BANKING

 

Tempted to switch current account but unsure of what to expect? Find out more about the Current Account Switch Service.

 

Be aware that if you open a joint bank account with someone, THEIR credit history will then have an impact on YOUR credit rating, as you will be viewed as financially linked to that person.

 

If you’re lucky enough to save each month but also have a mortgage to pay, it could be advantageous to overpay your mortgage rather than pay into a savings account, assuming your mortgage interest rate is higher than your savings rate after tax (some mortgages have overpayment penalties, so discuss with your lender before you increase your payments). Click to MSE's overpayment calculator to get an idea.

 

When you see a credit card or loan ad stating the ‘Representative APR’, it's worth knowing that the interest rate they’re promoting only has to be offered to a ‘representative’ 51% of customers, so be aware the interest rate they offer you could be more than you expect.

 

Have you ever considered a packaged bank account (a current account with a monthly fee which includes benefits such as travel insurance policies, breakdown cover etc.), but are not sure it covers the cost of the services you require that are packaged within it? Or do you pay for a packaged bank account but don’t make use of its features to make it cost-effective? These accounts benefit some consumers greatly (me for one!), though others may have been mis-sold an account that provides benefits they don’t actually need (in which case, it would be worth contacting the Financial Ombudsman to see if you have a mis-selling case to bring against the bank). If you want to know more, please contact me and I’ll do my best to answer your questions.

 

If you cannot pay your credit card bill in full, thus incurring interest, consider opening an alternative credit card offering a 0% balance transfer.  There’s usually a small percentage fee to transfer, it’s advisable to use the card to only pay off the transferred balance, i.e. not for other purchases as they would not usually be at the cheap rate, and it’s advisable to pay off the balance in full before the 0% deal ends as the APR would be likely to rise dramatically.

 

If you have a savings account, ensure you change it every year to ensure you receive as much interest as possible to suit your needs. Banks & building societies offer 'bonus' rates to entice customers to open new savings accounts, which revert to the base rate after 12 months. It's a simple switch, especially if you bank online - you may as well have the money in your pocket rather than theirs!

 

EXPENDITURE

 

If you need more than 13 NHS prescriptions per year, you’ll be better off buying a ‘Prescription Prepayment Certificate’. At £104 a year, you can pay by 10 direct debit instalments of £10.40 per month. It’s simple to arrange!

 

If you'd like to know how much you actually spend on energy over a particular time period, you can work it out using the Smart Meter Calculator from ukpower.co.uk. All you need is a start meter read, an end meter read and to know your supplier and tariff.

 

DEBT

 

For free debt advice, contact StepChange Debt Charity.

 

Debt on more than one card? Take some time to do the 'Credit Card Shuffle', you could reduce your debt significantly.

 

If you, or anyone you know, are worried about debt, however big or small, I'd recommend using Stepchange Debt Charity's 'Debt Remedy' tool to begin getting your finances back on track with free, professional help.

 

Be aware that if you have credit card debt & a bank account with the same institution, they are within their rights to retrieve the debt from your account without your permission.

 

New laws regarding bailiffs (now named ‘Enforcement Agents’) come into force in April – click here if you want to know more about what the new bailiff/enforcement agent laws mean.

 

If you’re concerned you may not be able to pay any tax owed to HMRC all in one go, be sure to speak to the HMRC before your tax bill is due with a view to spreading the payments with minimum interest applied – a better option than waiting until it’s too late!

 

PENSIONS

 

If you have a pension, did you know that you don’t have to buy the annuity from your pension provider? Advice is to shop around and go with the company that gives you the best rate. Click to this Annuity Calculator for more information.

 

If you have a large pension pot, don’t be fooled into cashing it in early – if you’re under 55, the HMRC will take 55% of that pot and the person that fooled you into it would take a percentage in fees. Read Which's 60-second guide to pension unlocking scams for more information.

 

MISCELLANEOUS MONEY TITBITS

 

If you’re owed money and you don’t think you’ll get it back without going to court, you can take court action online quicker and cheaper than using the usual methods. For example, for monies owed up to £300, it’s £25 to make a claim online, as opposed to £35 by post.

 

It's been reported that as much as 3% of all £1 coins in circulation are in fact counterfeit! Here's advice on how to spot the signs.

 

If you spot excessive credit card charges, i.e. more than 50p to pay by debit card or 2% by credit card, report rip-off charges to Which.

 

If you wear, or have worn, a uniform for work – i.e. branded T-shirt, overalls, nurses uniform – look after it yourself and use it solely for work purposes, did you know you're entitled to a tax rebate each year? Claims can be backdated 4 years.  Read MSE’s guide to uniform tax rebates.

 

With the recent announcement that the new £5 & £10 notes are to be printed on polymer (a thin & flexible plastic film), read these 10 interesting facts about Bank of England banknotes.

 

If money is short make sure you differentiate between want and need. You may want a new TV but you need to pay the mortgage!

 

If you have a poor credit rating, applying for a credit-building credit card could have a positive impact in as little as a year - just ensure that you always pay your account IN FULL every month!

 

If you give to charity at any point throughout the year and have to complete a tax return each year, declaring any donations you make will save you paying tax on the same amount earned, as charity donations are tax deductible. Similarly, if you’re a higher rate tax payer, charities will only be awarded 20% in Gift Aid, so you are eligible to reclaim the difference through Self Assessment, or ask HMRC to amend your tax code accordingly. I’d advise keeping a record of any charity donations you make – it really can add up over the year and you can choose to keep any tax saved yourself or donate it to a charity.

 

Back in the day, if you lived with someone who had a negative credit record, your credit rating was likely to also be affected, but that is thankfully no longer the case. Your credit history only affects your credit record, although the exceptions to this rule are if you have an account in joint names with someone who has a negative credit record, or you are someone who has signed as a guarantor on a debt.

 

Around 25% of the UK population have apparently never put a budget together – read 10 things you need to budget for if you need to manage your money better.

MONEY

© 2018 by Jo Stacey.  All rights reserved.

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Tel: 01634379272
Mob: 07515917223
 

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Based in Hempstead, Kent