Spring clean your finances

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A recent poll conducted by Scottish Friendly showed that 56% of respondents did the sensible thing and made no New Year resolutions!

For some it’s much better to wait until a less sentimental time of year to take stock and make some changes to those elements of life that matter whether it be nutrition, physical exercise or other lifestyle matters.

With the Spring Bank Holiday weekend ahead and the weather threatening to be dismal, what better opportunity is there for doing some spring cleaning – but this time your finances. That’s the promise I’ve made to myself.

A visit to the seaside or a country walk – even a trip to the Garden or DIY Centre – is undoubtedly more appealing but I know that if I devote even an hour to this oft-delayed task, I’ll be able to stop thinking “I must get around to looking at this” and instead fully enjoy what will hopefully be another scorcher of a summer.

So this Bank Holiday Monday, I’ll be making time to firstly see if I can put any more a month into my ISA or pensions savings. A bottle of wine less a month, a few more walks into work instead of paying £2 a time on bus fares and a few other money saving devices such as possibly changing energy supplier, and I reckon a tenner or hopefully fifteen pounds could be “in the bank”.

I’ll also be looking at the funds my stocks and shares, or investment, Isa invests in. Should I consider a switch to a different fund if I think it offers greater growth potential?

And what about my cash ISA? Cash ISA interest rates are extremely low at present – I better get round to checking what rate my bank is currently offering! I might even want to consider transferring it to a stocks and shares ISA – although of course unlike cash ISAs which are guaranteed not to go down in value, an investment in stocks and shares can go down as well as up and you are not guaranteed to get back what you invested.

Change isn’t generally something we like but as I’ve mentioned, I’ll finally take the plunge and really look into what my current energy provider is offering and check if I could get a better deal with another provider starting off with a comparison on uswitch.com.

Finally, there are pensions. The word alone can induce greater fear than if you were the “Get Me Out of Here” candidate selected to endure being locked up in a room full of rats and giant creepy crawlies. But saving for your “golden years” is so important these days. If I can put more into my ISA, this will certainly be a help. But a look at the paperwork showing how much my pension is projected to return might shock me into taking this topic more seriously!

How daunting does my finance Spring Clean seem? A review of my paperwork, a review of personal finance articles and I should be all set to make a few decisions, so I don’t think too much elbow grease will be necessary. If I’m unsure of anything, then I’ll consult an expert financial adviser.

No doubt there’s more financial spring cleaning I could do be doing but if I get through these tasks, I’ll have made a great start and good use of a wet Bank Holiday Monday!

No advice has been provided by Scottish Friendly. If you are in any doubt as to whether a savings or investment plan is suitable for you, you should contact a financial adviser for advice. If you do not have a financial adviser, you can get details of local financial advisers by visiting www.unbiased.co.uk. Advisers may charge for providing such advice and should confirm any cost beforehand.