2017’s most popular New Year Resolutions (at least according to Twitter) were all about diets and exercise – almost inevitable after the surfeit of indulgence over the festive season. Next on the people’s list of to-dos were to read more and to try to learn to do something new such as learn a language.
A survey in December 2016 by the Dutch ING Bank, however, asked whether New Year Resolutions might be linked to financial goals. Here in the UK, according to the research findings, just 27% were planning a financial resolution. This compares to 30% of Germans, 44% of Spaniards, 49% of Italians and 50% of the French. Turks came top of those surveyed with an estimated 69% including financial goals in their 2017 planning.
Meanwhile, only 3% of our fellow Brits are estimated to keep their resolution for the full 12 months, with the vast majority having abandoned any good intentions on or before Fail Friday – the name coined for the third Friday each January. So, we have proposed seven financial goals to choose from. Follow up on any of these and you can be one of that 3%.
Diarise your deadlines
From 31 January’s deadline to file your online tax self assessment, to 5 April to get your latest ISA set up, to insurance renewal dates, through to the variable dates for any VAT and Corporation Tax filings you may need to lodge. Just putting them in your diary with a nice long reminder timeline will help you start to get organised.
Spring clean your paperwork
From the ancient share certificates you’ve inherited to forgotten childhood bank accounts, chances are that there is a small savings pot that is out of sight and therefore out of mind.
Track your cashflow
In my latte pension video [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3x97Eqhza8], we show how saving a small amount regularly over a long period of time compounds to quite an incredible sum. Now is a great time to work out what you spend all those small payments on – from Amazon Prime to Netflix to magazine subscriptions – that together could tally to a whole lot more than you might have imagined.
Cut up the credit cards
The Bank of England’s Governor is on the record saying that the Bank of England may finally raise rates. With inflation spiking to 1.6% year-on-year in December, and that level set to rise further, rates may well rise. This means any credit card bills you haven’t fully paid off could lead to costs increasing exponentially.
Switch where necessary
Aggregator sites now compile the best options for everything from energy bills and mortgage providers to insurance bills and credit card cashback percentages. Now is the time to see how much you and your family could save.
Make a will
According to research by the cancer charity Macmillan, only 40% of Brits have a will. 89% of 18 to 34 year olds do not have a will versus 32% of the over 55s. One of the reasons is no doubt the emotional choices you have to make, but at least plan to do this by November when Will Aid 2017 goes live (again) and lists 900 odd solicitors who will help you in return for a charitable donation.
Review your pension
Successive governmental budgets since 2010 have reduced both the lifetime and annual allowances for pensions. It may be necessary to take your pension early or stop contributing to your scheme, even if you haven’t retired, to avoid the benefits exceeding those allowances. Perhaps it’s time to start using another tax wrapper or at least making sure that you are using your other tax allowances, such as the annual capital gains tax, properly.
All just common sense really – nothing even vaguely radical!
Justin Urquhart Stewart
Co-founder and Head of Corporate Development
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