Your old man was too concerned with warning you about ladyboys and crack to tell you about the perils of monetary matters. So to make up for his shortcomings, we asked seven financial whizzes for their gold-plated tips of monetary wisdom…

1 Start a pension, now
Alastair Bruce, Editor of MSN Money, reckons pensions are essential. "The earlier you start the more you'll have when you retire. Twenty pounds a month 40 years before retirement is worth exponentially more than it is ten years before retirement, because over the years it will snowball thanks to interest. Contributing to a pension also gives you free cash. For lower rate taxpayers, every 78p you contribute, the government pays 22p."



2 Protect yourself from identity theft
One in ten people find themselves victims of identity fraud every year. Owen Roberts, identity fraud expert at Callcredit advises: "Regularly check your statements. You should watch out for any small, unrecognised transactions as these can be a precursor to serious spending by a fraudster. They may first test the water with something small to prove that the card details are still active and once the transaction goes through they go to town. Also, check your credit report once a month for any new accounts which have been opened in your name that you don't know about."



3 Check your credit rating
Says Jim Hodgkins, Managing Director of CreditExpert: "Your credit report offers a snapshot of what you owe and how well you are managing to pay your debts. Check it before submitting an application for a loan to ensure it is up to date and accurately reflects your circumstances. It is key to your credit rating, because lenders look at it when they decide whether to make you an offer and what interest rate to charge you. If the details are wrong you could be forced to pay out hundreds of pounds in unnecessary interest." Visit creditexpert.co.uk for a free report.



4 Plan your payments
Andy Davie, spokesperson for financial website iva.co.uk, advises: "Set up all your direct debits for bills and mortgage repayments to come out on payday. That way, you don't have to worry about them or risk forgetting them. Planning your payments can seem dull, but once you've set up your direct debits you're free for the rest of the month, and anything left is yours to either spend or save."


5 Boss your credit card
Ian Wright, managing director of debt solutions specialists newtomorrow.com says: "Don't just make the minimum payment when you get your credit card statement, think about what you've bought that month. You'll have spent any cash withdrawn on the card, so clear that first. Then any payments for petrol – pay off those, too. Always try and pay off clothes within three months, and bigger purchases like a TV within six. If you can't stick to these timescales, you need to reassess your spending."


6 Don't ignore your financial problems
Pat Boyden is bankruptcy expert and partner at Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP. He says: "If you're having problems managing your debts, don't stick your head in the sand. The companies you owe do not want people going bankrupt, so take advantage of that and try to negotiate on your payments. Bankruptcy and voluntary agreements can offer some relief, but they are by no means an easy option. They affect your credit rating for years to come."


7 Shop around
"People are reluctant to switch away from the big-name bank that there parents signed them up to when they were a child," says Steve Gracey, finance spokesman for Alliance & Leicester. "But you should look beyond the big names and consider 'challenger' banks if you want the best personal finance deals. You could find yourself a better current account or personal loan, which will give you a real financial boost. Check out the 'best buy' tables in your weekend newspaper for the top deals."