Many people see the new year as an opportunity to reflect on themselves. You may look at your successes and failures from the year now behind you, and what you can learn from any new experiences you encountered.
You may also be looking to the future with new year resolutions in mind and goals for 2022. So, the new year serves as a perfect opportunity to review your finances, and to tackle any jobs you may have been putting off.
So read on for seven financial jobs you could undertake this new year to help keep your finances in order.
1. Review your bills
You probably pay multiple bills each month, but are you sure you’re getting the best deal? It might be worth researching how much you’re paying for your energy bills, car insurance, and even your mortgage, as you might be able to find them cheaper elsewhere.
It only takes a few minutes to compare the cost of insurance online, and you could save yourself a substantial sum that you could redirect to your savings or pension.
2. Switch banks or bank accounts
How happy are you with the service you’re receiving from your bank? If the answer is “very unhappy”, you’re not alone.
In the most recent satisfaction survey, fewer than 3 in 5 customers of popular banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, TSB, Santander, and NatWest were satisfied with the service they received from their current account provider.
So, this new year, if you’re unhappy then it could be time to finally get around to switching banks. The process has never been easier, with many banks offering to switch your direct debits and to have your new account up and running in just seven days.
Some banks offer incentives for you to join, too. These can be in the form of a cash payment, gift vouchers, or exclusive saving rates on certain accounts, usually for a limited time.
3. Write or update your will and Lasting Power of Attorney
There are few things more important than ensuring that someone trustworthy can manage your finances when you can no longer look after them. Whether through death or a loss of mental capacity, it can never hurt to be prepared for the worst.
- A will expresses what you want to happen to your estate once you pass, detailing who you’d like to give different parts of your estate to.
- A Lasting Power of Attorney gives control of your finances to someone else if you lose the mental capacity to manage your money yourself or decide you no longer want to. This could be useful if you are in a coma or start suffering from a debilitating mental illness such as dementia.
These documents should always be updated to reflect your personal circumstances. If you do not have either, and the worst happens, you may leave your family in a difficult financial and emotional situation. So, make the new year the time you finally get around to putting these important documents in place.
If you have them already, it is worth checking through them and updating any outdated information. You don’t want to leave nothing to your new grandchild or give control of your wealth over to someone who you no longer associate with.
4. Check you have nominated the right people in your expression of wish
Your pensions do not normally form part of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes. So, your will won’t dictate what happens to them when you pass away.
To specify who you would like to receive your pension on death, you need to complete a pension death benefit nomination form (sometimes called an “expression of wish”). This gives the pension trustees guidance when it comes to distributing the proceeds of your pension on death.
It’s sensible to regularly check your nomination forms to ensure they are up to date. For example, if your circumstances have changed since you started contributing to your pension (perhaps you have married or divorced) then you may need to review your arrangements.
Contact the pension provider or administrator, obtain the relevant nomination form, and make sure your beneficiaries are up to date.
5. Go through your direct debits
There’s a popular saying that usually crops up around this time of year: “new year, new you”. It is the perfect motto to help get rid of every direct debit the “new you” no longer needs. There are several things you could be paying for each month despite not using them:
- Subscription services that deliver to your door
- Streaming services like Netflix or Disney+
- Gym memberships you no longer have the time for
- Free trials that have ended and now charge you monthly.
Cancelling those which you no longer use could save you a significant amount of money each month, enabling you to redirect these funds towards your savings or pension.
6. Fill in your tax return
If you haven’t managed to do it already, the new year is the perfect time to fill in your self-assessment tax return, especially as the deadline is on 31 January.
If you are a higher- or additional-rate taxpayer, you will likely need to fill in your tax return to claim any extra pension tax relief that you are entitled to.
7. Book your annual financial planning review
There’s no better way to get your finances in order for the year ahead than to book a financial planning review. A financial planner is there to help you achieve your financial goals and will work with you to put a robust plan in place.
Before making any significant changes to your finances, consider checking in with a professional. We can act as a sounding board for any decisions you want to make and give an expert opinion including any potential risks.
Annual reviews help us to check your progress and ensure that you remain on course to achieve any financial goals you are working towards.
Get in touch
To book a financial planning meeting or review for the year ahead, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 933 8433.
Please note the Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Will Writing or Tax Planning.