ACCA - The global body for professional accountants
'After the festive season money may be tight and people are no doubt going to be feeling the pinch even more. So understanding how your finances and taxes work, and understanding what is coming out of your hard earned cash is essential, particularly now.
—Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of tax

Personal finance top of the agenda for 2012

The global body for professional accountants, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), is suggesting simple ways to keep track of personal finances and taxes in the New Year.

Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at ACCA, said: “After the festive season money may be tight and people are no doubt going to be feeling the pinch even more. So understanding how your finances and taxes work, and understanding what is coming out of your hard earned cash is essential, particularly now.

'People should take a look at their incomes and outgoing expenditure and make a list of it. They should also take an interest in the amount of tax and other deductions from their wages, especially when there are changes to salaries or financial circumstances. Not knowing the ins and outs of your own cash flow can catch people out when they are expecting more money to be in their bank accounts than there actually will be and that leads to debts occurring.'

ACCA advises that people should:

  1. Ensure they are paying the right amount of tax
  2. Check their tax code and phone the taxman if they think it is wrong
  3. Shop around for better interest rates on savings
  4. Shop around for better rates with credit cards and loans
  5. Consolidate debts as much as possible
  6. Pay off debts as soon as possible
  7. Look for finance deals using websites such as www.moneysavingexpert.com 
  8. Always alert the bank if they think they are going overdrawn to avoid incurring extra charges
  9. Always seek independent advice  if finances are causing stress.

ACCA's New Year advice coincides with MoneySavingExpert.com’s Martin Lewis and his petition to Parliament to make teaching finances part of the National Curriculum.

The petition wants young people to be taught at school how best to look after their money and not fall into debt unnecessarily, to prepare them for adulthood.

Chas Roy Chowdhury adds: 'Debt is clearly an issue at the moment, and financial literacy is something that everyone can benefit from. The petition for financial education to start early is a great way to galvanise support – but financial education is not just for school – financial knowhow can grow in the home too.'