Don’t take a bank holiday from your finances!

Traffic jams, screaming children and lost luggage are all as much a part of the great Bank Holiday tradition as bad weather. And it’s almost Bank Holiday time again with the first of the May breaks round the corner.

Millions of us will take to the roads in search of relaxation with many of us taking advantage of cheap flights in order to catch a few short hours of sun. But it’s not just sunburn you’ll have to be wary of this Bank Holiday. You need to keep an eye on your finances. MoneyExpert.com is here to show you how to steer clear of the pitfalls..

Cruise control on your finances

Tom Cruise has been know to enjoy a spot of wind surfing around the Pacific Island of Fiji, but if you’re one of the growing number of people who want to make the most of their breaks with a similarly adventurous activity then you’ll want to make sure you’re fully covered on the insurance side.

Search the market to find out what’s available as prices will vary. You’ll need a comprehensive policy that covers you for all your sporting needs. Be careful to read the terms and conditions to ensure your covered before doing anything potentially dangerous. It’s worth considering a specialist insurer like Sports Cover Direct.

If you happen to be doing something slightly less adventurous, and more family orientated then you’re more likely to need something that covers you comprehensively against theft or general mishaps. Primary Insurance and Simple Travel Insurance offer policies from £13 to £15, based on a family of four travelling for two weeks within Europe.

Compare travel insurance

Take control of your finances

If you don’t have anything planned for the Bank Holiday then perhaps it’s worth considering the possibility of taking on the unpleasant task of tackling your personal finances.

For some of us things might be a little out of control; a recent investigation revealed that Britney Spears could do with taking a look at her finances. In the last two years she’s managed to spend $21.5 million of her $32 million fortune, but things don’t have to be this out of control before you take a look at your out-goings.

Credit cards are a good place to start, as they’re a source of problems for many of us. If you’ve got one then the first thing to do is to check whether you’re still on the 0% introductory interest rate. If you’re not, either pay off the outstanding balance and switch, or take the hit of transferring the balance. The fee for balance transfers is usually around two or three per cent. It doesn’t make sense to continue using a card once you start having to pay rates of 15% or more when you can get a card interest free. Barclaycard for example offers a 0% rate until 1st July 2008 exculsively to MoneyExpert, while Virgin Money offer 0% for 13 months.

Compare 0% credit cards now

Take account of your finances

In the past it’s been the credit cards which have been deemed the rip-off product, but increasingly consumers have started to look at bank accounts and the value for money they offer.

Research by MoneyExpert.com revealed that two million people have switched current accounts in the last six months. In the vast majority of cases consumers have been angry with the level of charges they’re being made to pay for going into their overdraft or the extortionate fees charged if a transaction bounces.

If you’re thinking about switching your account then shop around for the best deals and bear in mind that the best value account might be an online account where there are lower administration costs. Compare current accounts now.

A bit of research reveals that the rates of interest you receive on your money vary widely between accounts. Alliance and Leicester will offer 6.5% on your money so long as you pay in £500 a month and Lloyds will offer 4.25% so long as you pay in £1,000 a month, but with Lloyds there are no fees for the basic administration of the account.

Become debt free

Whatever you do, think about your debts. If you’ve run up a few thousand worth of debt then consider taking out a personal loan in order to consolidate. There are some great rates available and if you have a decent credit rating then it shouldn’t be too hard to get your hands on the cash. If you have £5,000 worth of debt for example Stroud & Swindon Building Society will let you take out a three year loan where your APR is 6.9% making your monthly repayment £154.16. Northern Rock offers a rate of 6.2% for the same period. With interest rates on the rise it’s worth taking advantage of these deals sooner rather than later.

Compare low rate loans

If the barbeque weather does appear this Bank Holiday think about taking a look at your bank statements while the barbeque heats up, it only takes an hour or two, honest…

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