All Blog posts

  • Money Doctor Fergus Muirhead answers your questions

    Credit unions
    Watch Money Doctor, Fergus Muirhead answer your question here.
    Joining your local credit union branch could give you access to competitive loans, insurance and services and help you save and borrow safely, says Money Doctor Fergus Muirhead.

    More information can also be found on credit unions on this website and use our interactive map to find your local credit union.


  • Find out if you're eligible


    The Help to Buy (Scotland) Affordable New Build Scheme opened to applications on 1 March 2016.

    The scheme offers interest-free equity loans to those buying a new build home from participating home builders.

    The Scottish Government will help buyers to purchase the property by taking an equity stake of up to a maximum 15% of the value of the property.

    Find out more about the scheme here.

  • Fergus Muirhead provides his advice

    Debt advice

    Money Doctor Fergus Muirhead answers your money questions.

    This week he gives his advice on how to prevent getting into debt.

    Watch the video on our Twitter feed

    And if you are already in debt and struggling read his five emergency steps to help you now.


    Look out for more money advice videos answering your questions in the coming weeks



  • How do they work?

    If you're saving to buy your first home, save money into a Help to Buy ISA and the UK government will boost your savings by 25%.

    So, for every £200 you save, receive a government bonus of £50. The maximum government bonus you can receive is £3,000.

    To qualify for a Help to Buy ISA you must:

    • be 16 or over
    • have a valid National Insurance number
    • be a UK resident
    • be a first time buyer, and not own a property anywhere in the world
    • not have another active cash ISA in the same tax year: If you have opened a cash ISA this tax year, you can open a Help to Buy ISA but will have to take additional steps.

    Find out more about Help to Buy ISAs here.

  • Fergus Muirhead gives you his advice on finance, savings and debt

    Money Doctor Fergus Muirhead

    Scotland's Financial Health Service has teamed up with The Daily Record's Money Doctor, Fergus Muirhead to answer your questions on money, savings and debt.

    Watch the preview on our Twitter feed or on The Daily Record's Facebook page and look out in the coming weeks for the answers to your questions.









  • Elaine Colliar talks you through the best places to seek advice.

    If you have reached the point that you don’t know where to turn then maybe you need to talk to someone directly. But who can you trust?

    A lot of online companies offer to “write off your debts” or do some magic voodoo if you can just find your way to giving them a big chunk of your money every month.

    There are perfectly legitimate agencies out there who will help you to do this, making sure that every penny that is being used to pay off your debt actually goes to your creditors.

    Even better, when you use these agencies, you will find that the people you owe money to will step back and stop hassling you. Fewer phone calls, red letters and stressful demands on the doorstep – that has got to be worth considering, right?

    Who do I recommend? Well, for all forms of debt, whether it’s council tax or credit card bills, you can contact Citizens Advice, the StepChange Debt Charity or a free independent adviser who can negotiate payment plans at an affordable rate.

    Christians Against Poverty (you don’t have to be religious) and the National Debtline can also help. If you are feeling under pressure from your creditors, these guys will help you prioritise your debts, set up a budget that works for your family and support you.

    If your problem turns out to be much more severe, then there are agencies to help you access other options like the Debt Arrangement Scheme and even bankruptcy as an absolute last resort. So stop fretting and make that call.

    Contact these organisations for advice:




  • The must-know facts behind quick borrowing

    Financial expert Fergus Muirhead explores the must-know facts behind quick borrowing.

    Our TV screens are full of adverts for companies offering to lend us money very quickly – so quickly in fact that it sounds too good to be true.

    And you know what they say? If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And the reason in these cases is often the huge rates of interest charged for the loans

    Here, your questions around payday lending are answered.

    What do you mean by short-term lending?

    Payday loans are typically arranged over a period of a month or so and were originally designed to help people out with very short-term money issues, often until they received their next pay packet.

    Is it easy to get a payday loan?

    The general answer to this is yes, and therein lies the problem.

    These loans should be seen as an absolute last resort for most people but they are, in many cases, available at the other end of a phone, often in a matter of minutes, and so they can seem very convenient.

    What’s the APR?

    For a standard loan the APR represents the Annual Percentage Rate, or the cost of borrowing over a year. With payday loans this figure is often up over 1000 per cent.

    But it doesn’t tell the full story since payday loans are designed to be short term, and so an annual rate isn’t the real issue. It should act as a warning though.

    What happens if I can’t repay on time?

    You may be offered an extension on the term of the loan, but this will greatly increase the cost. So you need to make sure that if you’re desperate enough to look at a payday loan, you’re going to have sufficient funds to repay it on time.

    What are the alternatives?

    Don’t borrow! This is much more difficult for many of us since payday loans seem so easy, but it’s far better to sit down and work on your budget so that you can manage your money and get from one month to the next without resorting to short term borrowing.

    If you do have to borrow then look at mainstream lenders first – try your own bank and see if they can help if it’s a genuine short-term problem that you are facing.

    Becoming a member of your local credit union will also give you access to money education and advice as well as favourable lending rates.

    Find out more about credit unions on our site here.

    More information on payday lending can be found here.

  • Five easy steps to build your credit rating

    credit score

    Although many of us don’t know what our credit score is, it’s actually one of our most important numbers.

    A high credit score could mean better deals for credit cards, loans, mortgages and mobile phone contracts.

    So knowing your score, and ways to improve it, can increase your choice and save you a bundle in interest payments.

    More details on how and when you should check your credit score can be found on the Money Advice Service pages here.

    5 easy steps to boost your credit score

    • Check your report and fix any mistakes
    • Keep your credit utilisation low
    • Get organised
    • Get on the Electoral Roll
    • Build your score – use a credit card little and often

    Read more about boosting your credit score here


  • Why it’s already time to start thinking about next Christmas

    Financial expert Fergus Muirhead shares his advice for keeping your finances in check this year.

    Last year’s Christmas tree will hardly be in its box and already we’re telling you to start planning for Christmas 2016.

    What’s that all about?

    Well, it’s about avoiding the problems that some of us may have fallen into this year because we didn't give ourselves enough time to plan and pay for Christmas celebrations last year.

    So here are just a few of the benefits of starting now.

    • You can spread the cost over a year rather than one month
    • Enjoy greater choice, more leisurely ways to shop and find the best prices on the items you're after
    • Find the best credit deals if you have to borrow
    • Ease the stress by not leaving it all to the last minute




  • Expert advice on dealing with debt, budgeting, saving and borrowing

    Our 16 page guide to your financial health. Includes info on facing up to date, budgeting guide, five questions every borrower should ask, ask the money doctor, recovering from debt and how to handle financial life stages.

    Link opens in another browser. Click on the guide to open.