Festival of finance

It’s less than a month to go until one of the greatest sporting spectacles on the planet, the Olympic Games gets under way and at the time of writing much of the nation’s media coverage is focused on two athletes, the serious, but injured contender Paula Radcliffe and controversial former drug cheat, sprinter Dwain Chambers.

These two are linked to a phrase much loved by personal finance commentators, "it’s a marathon not a sprint," but is this really true? When it comes to our finances sometimes it’s best to be quick out of the blocks.

Join the mortgage sprint

If your current mortgage deal expired in the last six months then the chances are you’ve noticed something about the mortgage market, deals aren’t available for long. With lending in scarce supply those lenders which have put competitive deals into the market have often had to withdraw them quickly after being inundated by borrower applications. If you’re looking to snap up a market leading offer then the chances are that you’ll need to move fast.

Regularity wins the race

When it comes to mortgages it’s certainly true that it pays to act fast, but if you’re interested in building a nest egg then the phrase slow and steady wins the race has never been more true. Saving is all about regularity and volume and in the same way that Radcliffe will be putting in mile after mile, day after day in order to make her goal of marathon gold, you will want to be putting away as much as you can and as regularly as possible.

Make the most of the effort

If you’re on a savings drive then it’s important to make your money work as hard as possible. With rates ranging from not much more than 1% AER all the way up to 12%, it will pay to choose the right account. Alliance and Leicester, Abbey, HBOS and Halifax lead the way here all offering rates of 10% or more. The rates on regular savers are higher than those on standard savings accounts although these will drop if you make more than the allocated number of withdrawals.

Take the leap

Planning your finances can be a daunting task, but it’s certainly nothing compared to that facing Britain’s athletes this August. All you need to do is spend time looking to see what’s available on the market and you’ll be in a better position to take out the right products for you. It’s also worth remembering that across almost all products there are benefits for either applying online or taking an online product. Insurers for example often provide discounts of 10% or more for buying online while rates on e-saver products are frequently better than their high street competitors, get financially savvy and you’ll stay financially fit.

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