Finances starting to look a bit scary?
VICKY SHAW has a few suggestions about ways to protect yourself and your money
HALLOWEEN is upon us – and if your finances are giving you nightmares, now might be the time to get to grips with any money horrors lurking around the corner. In many cases, there may be simple steps you can take to spirit some of these problems away. Here are six money horrors and the action to take to address them...
FAILING TO GET YOUR TAX RETURN IN ON TIME
FOR people who need to fill in self-assessment tax returns, the deadline for getting paper returns in is midnight on October 31, 2018. Many people nowadays fill in their tax return online, and the deadline for this is midnight on January 31, 2019. You’ll usually pay a penalty if you’re late. Figures from the taxman show some people end up filling their tax returns over Christmas and New Year – so if you don’t want this to get in the way of the festivities you may want to plan ahead.
PAYING MORE THAN YOU NEED TO FOR YOUR CAR INSURANCE
ACCORDING to comparison site Comparethemarket.com, 62% of drivers don’t switch provider – meaning they could be missing out on a cheaper deal elsewhere. It says the average saving for switching stands at £113.09.
Simon McCulloch, a director at comparethemarket.com, says: “If shopping around became the norm for the majority of drivers, the increased competition would help drive prices down.”
STANDING BY WHILE YOUR SAVINGS SUFFER
TOM ADAMS, head of research at savingschampion.co.uk says it’s worth seeking out the best returns available for your rainy day pot of cash savings.
“If you don’t take any action, providers will not necessarily be tripping over themselves to help improve your return. Even with the base rate going up in August 2018, many providers did not increase all of their savings interest rates and of those that were increased, not all have been raised by the full 0.25%,” he says.
“Don’t dismiss a provider because you haven’t come across it before, make sure that funds deposited with them are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and, if you have any doubts, sticking to the £85,000 limit per person, per banking licence should cover you should the worst happen.
In order to improve your savings returns, you may need to take a well-informed leap of faith and consider a name you are less familiar with.
“Certainly, the worst thing you can do is accept poor-paying accounts as, with a little effort, your pocket stands to gain by being active.”
STAYING ON A MORTGAGE LENDER’S STANDARD VARIABLE RATE (SVR)
HOME-OWNERS whose initial mortgage deal comes to an end may find themselves on their lenders’ SVR – when they could potentially be better off switching. The average two-year fixed mortgage rate on the market fell to 2.49% in October, from 2.53% in September, according to Moneyfacts.co.uk, so now could be a good time to shop around.
PAYING THE LOYALTY PENALTY WITH YOUR ENERGY BILLS
A STRING of energy providers have recently announced bill hikes – so if you’re worried about the chill on your wallet this winter then it’s worth having a look around and asking your current provider about other tariffs as well as seeing what other suppliers are offering.
As well as switching provider, there may be other ways to see if you could save, such as checking if you are eligible for any rebates or discounts, which may be available if you’re a pensioner or on a low income, for example.
Also make sure you’re not wasting energy. Making sure appliances aren’t left on standby and only boiling the amount of water you need in the kettle could help. Energy watchdog Ofgem has further tips on their website which could help (ofgem.gov.uk).
PAYING MORE THAN YOU NEED TO FOR YOUR BORROWING
IT may be possible to cut the cost of your borrowing by shifting the balance to a credit card which has a 0% initial interest-free period. But there are some factors to consider in weighing up whether it’s worthwhile, such as any fees for moving to the new card, and whether you can afford to clear the balance at the end of the zero interest period, after which the interest could surge.
Don’t be afraid of addressing your money issues. Hiding from them won’t help
Is it frightful when you check your bank accounts?