The official start of Spring is March 20th this year – so now could be the perfect time to take stock of your finances, especially with the new tax year starting on April 6th.
The great thing about a spring clean of your finances is that you don’t need to turn the heating down, or swap your relaxing hot baths for speedy showers, in order to improve your financial situation.
Follow our top ten tips to giving your finances a thorough spring clean and you could soon be reaping the financial rewards…
Work out your incomings and outgoings Let’s face it, we can’t identify where to make improvements unless we know exactly what is going in and out of our accounts. So start by digging out your bank and mortgage statements, phone bills, home, car, life and travel insurance policies, energy bills, gym memberships, charity direct debits etc. Make a list of how much each costs you and another showing how much you have coming in. Spend some time examining the list for things you don’t use anymore or don’t recognise.
Organise those documents in a filing system After spending all that time going through your papers, the trick now is to keep them filed and organised, ready for next time you need them. A simple filing folder can be purchased from any good stationary shop and will enable you to label each section for your separate documents.
Update your budget Now you know your incomings and outgoings, you can work out exactly how much you have to spend each month. Decide how much you need for groceries and other essentials, then give yourself a weekly budget. If you have less than you expected, you may need to cut back on non-essentials such as gym memberships or pricey TV packages. You may even find when you threaten to leave your TV package provider that they offer you a large discount to stay.
Mark your renewal dates in your diary Do not miss the opportunity to get a better deal by searching the market when any of your policies are due for renewal. Your energy deals, insurance policies, mobile contract and your mortgage renewal dates are all opportunities to save money. Too many people forget their renewal date is approaching and just allow their providers to renew them automatically.
Get switching! Ask your existing providers for renewal quotes ahead of your end dates and then challenge yourself to beat each of them when the time comes. You can save hundreds of pounds on your car / home insurance and energy bills by searching for a better deal every year. Comparison websites like GoCompare, Compare the Market and uSwitch are all great for this. Remember to go directly to insurers who aren’t on comparison sites too, like Direct Line.
Get hold of forgotten bank accounts If you think you may have money sitting in a long-lost account then do not worry, you can still get the money. Services such as mylostaccount.org.uk will help you find your account details and how to get hold of your cash.
Transfer balances on your credit cards If you are paying the full interest rate of around 17-18pc on your credit card (or more!) then you may benefit from doing a balance transfer to a 0 per cent card. All the money you pay on your card will reduce the balance, so you should clear the debt more quickly. Aim to clear your card or pay off as much as you can during your promotional period as the 0 per cent deals don’t last forever. Remember, there is usually a one-off balance transfer fee to be paid to your new provider.
Use your tax-free ISA allowance Now you have some extra money in your pocket, you should consider using it to improve your financial position. Make sure you use your individual savings account (ISA) allowance of £15,240 before April 5, 2016 because this is a “use it or lose it” allowance.
Consider putting extra money into your personal pension Not receiving your retirement income just yet? You could consider boosting your pension fund while you can and you could receive 20pc tax relief from the Government if you are a basic-rate taxpayer, 40pc if you are a higher rate or 45pc if you pay the additional rate of tax.
Review your bank account and savings No financial spring clean is complete without a review of your bank account. Some banks charge a premium in exchange for insurance deals and breakdown cover, but if you already pay for these separately then consider which is the best deal and cancel the other one.
Could a retirement income product improve your financial position?
Since the pension freedoms came into play, those of us approaching retirement can tap into our pension funds to unlock the money we need to boost our finances. The remaining money can be left to continue to grow, or can be taken as a regular income.
If you are over 55 and looking to boost your finances using your pension fund, either in the build-up to your retirement or as part of your longer-term retirement plan, then speak to one of our retirement income specialists today and discover what we could do for you.
Speak to one of our retirement income experts today and find out if we could get you a bigger income from your pension fund. Call 0800 652 1316.
Retirement Line work on a non-advised basis. Ifyou are at all unsure of which options suit you, you should seekregulated advice.
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*Equifax Touchstone pension income and annuity sales figures 2018 to 2020. Matrix Financial Solutions Inc annuity sales figures 2021 to 2022.