Ten Steps to Financial Freedom

Learn The Rules Of The Money Game

Banks and other financial companies are often portrayed as big, ugly beasts that have no interest other than ripping people off. This may be partially true, but don't forget that in comparison you are small, nimble, and perfectly formed. All you need is a little insight into the nature of the beast. Learn what to look for and what to watch out for to ensure you trust your money to only the most respectful of financial partners.

Fair and friendly financial behaviour

  • Flexibility
    Avoid any loan products that impinge on your financial freedom by tying you in for any amount of time with early repayment charges. The only exceptions to the flexibility rule are products like bonds, which offer you a higher-than-usual rate of return in exchange for locking your money in for a set time.
  • Low-cost
    With financial products, less money for the bank means more money in your pocket. The best way to find the lowest-cost products is to shop around online, but beware of hidden costs: a better rate could end up costing you more if it includes high charges or - heaven forbid! - commission.

Keep an eye out

  • Best buys
    Banks often reserve their best deals for new customers, so the deal that got you in the door may fade over time. Banks expect you to put up with this - don't. Keep tabs on your money and move it elsewhere if you can get a better deal.

Stop, turn, and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction

  • Complexities
    If you don't understand how a financial product works, don't touch it.
  • Bundles
    If a company tries to sell you a combination of products in one go, chances are most of the add-ons are overpriced, unnecessary, and only serve to make them money. Don’t bother!
  • Cross-sells
    Many companies grab you with a winning product and then try to sell you a load of tat. Few banks excel across the board; if you need a new product, be prepared to shop around.
  • Commission
    Salespeople often recommend a product because they earn more commission on it. Whenever someone tries to sell you a particular financial product, ask what's in it for them.
  • Scams
    From dubious emails asking for your bank details, to endowments, to pyramid schemes, the cliché stands: if it sounds too be good to be true, it probably is.
Go to step four

Next step to financial freedom: dump the debts. There's no point making small gains at the cost of ignoring the huge losses incurred by debt. Free yourself of debt and get compound interest on your side.

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