While the festive season is a busy time of year – a revolving door of relatives and friends coming to visit – it’s also a period when you might finally get a little bit of downtime.
Over the next few weeks, you might find yourself with a couple of hours to kill, and so you may finally get around to all those little pieces of life admin you have been putting off for months.
If you do free up some spare time, here are 10 small but vital pieces of financial admin you could tackle that will stand you in good stead for the year ahead.
1. Review your bank statements and budget
When was the last time you forensically went through your bank statements?
Interrogating your outgoings can help you to find savings. Perhaps there are subscriptions you never use, payments for a gym you rarely visit, or insurances you can find more cheaply elsewhere?
Finding savings can free up cash to boost your savings or pension contributions, and help you to reach your longer term goals more quickly.
2. Shop around for a better savings rate
Recent research reported by FTAdviser found that almost a third (32%) of people do not know what interest rates they are getting on their savings.
While interest rates have risen over the last couple of years, many high street institutions have been criticised for failing to pass on the full benefit to savers. So, now’s the time to establish what rate you are getting and whether there may be a better alternative.
Even securing a 1% better rate on £50,000 of savings will boost your returns by £500, so it’s worth a few minutes of your time to shop around for a better deal.
3. Top up your ISA
Profits made using an ISA are paid free of Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax. So, it’s worth making the most of your annual allowance (£20,000 in 2023/24) as you cannot carry any unused allowance over to the next tax year.
4. Update your will
It’s important to regularly update your will to ensure that it continues to reflect your assets. If it’s been a while since you last reviewed your estate plan, check it’s still appropriate for your needs.
If children or grandchildren have been born since you wrote your will, your personal circumstances have changed, or you have acquired additional assets, you may need to account for these in an updated document.
5. Complete or update your ICE document
An “in case of emergency” (ICE) document can be invaluable if your loved ones ever need to access your financial information.
It contains details of all your savings, investments, pensions, bank accounts, and insurance policies, along with passwords, details of trusted professionals, and information that will help your loved ones to find paperwork if you’re not around.
If you don’t have either a paper or digital ICE document, spending the time to build one can provide your family with all the information they need to deal with your affairs if, for example, you have to spend a period in hospital.
6. File your paperwork
It’s easy to let your bank statements, policy renewals, and investment updates pile up over time. So, over the festive season, make time to file all your paperwork away. Future-you will thank you for being so organised!
7. Update your “expression of wish” forms
Your pensions will not normally form part of your estate, and so are not covered by instructions in your will.
Instead, you’ll normally need to complete an “expression of wish” firm for every pension you hold to inform the trustees about who you’d like to receive your pension benefits on your death.
Again, if your circumstances have changed, or you have started contributing to a new scheme, make sure you have an expression of wish form in place for each fund.
8. File your tax return
Failing to submit your self-assessment return and pay any tax that is due by 31 January can result in a £100 penalty and interest charges on any outstanding amount.
So, find time over the festive period to submit your 2022/23 return. HMRC report that 3,275 people filed their tax returns on Christmas Day in 2022!
9. Update your Lasting Power of Attorney
Your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) outlines the person (or people) who you want to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able.
Just as you should update your will, ensure that your nominated attorney(s) remain appropriate, and that you’re happy with the decisions they are able to make.
10. Review your goals for the year ahead
The new year is a great time to think about your plans and goals for the year ahead.
While your financial plan may be focused on longer-term aims, such as your retirement, there may be shorter-term goals you’d like to achieve in 2024. So, take time to set yourself some targets for the year ahead – perhaps saving a certain amount or increasing your pension contributions – and monitor your progress throughout the year to see if you can meet them.
Get in touch
If it’s time for you to review your financial plan, or you want to start 2024 on the right financial footing, please get in touch.
Contact us by email at info@BlueSKYifas.co.uk or call us on 01189 876655.
This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.