How to Spring Clean Your Bank Accounts
Happy first day of spring!
We just love spring - it’s a lovely time of the year, when the sun starts shining more (finger’s crossed here in northern England!), the flowers bloom and the grass gets greener, and dreams of summer holidays become more and more realistic.
Spring is also a time for one other important activity - spring cleaning!
It’s not just your closets, cupboards and living spaces that require a seasonal spruce-up, however. It’s just as important to spring clean your finances.
We asked Paul, our head of Financial Claims, to give his top tips for improving your financial situation this season. This is what he said…
1. Set a (realistic) budget
Ignorance may be bliss when it comes to some things, but this saying definitely doesn’t apply to your bank balance! It’s important to know exactly what money you’ve got coming in and going out each month, Paul says. This way you can make the most of your savings and be sure to always live within your means, so you’re never in debt (or can work towards paying off any current debt). A budget is obviously even more important if you’re saving for something significant such as purchasing a home. A budget lets you plan exactly how you want to spend your money and better track your spending habits. Make sure it’s realistic and focused on your overall financial goals (e.g. saving a certain amount of money monthly towards a house deposit or paying off a debt by a certain time).
2) Plan for the future
Take your budget to the next level by creating a financial plan for your future endeavours. Just as you may plan and begin to plant your garden for the next year the spring before, you should take some time to plan out your future, financially. Things our clients are often thinking about include: taking out early retirement, starting a family and upgrading to a larger home or downsizing the family home now the kids have left the nest. A good plan - which may include actions such as your monthly saving goals and retirement fund contributions - can help you take control of your financial future and be better prepared should anything unexpected happen (change in financial situation; job loss; illness; etc.).
3) Set up a home filing system
First thing’s first, make sure all your financial paperwork (documents related to your phone, internet, insurance, utility, rent, mortgage, loans, credit card and any other payments is stored and organised together - whether that’s in a (backed-up) folder on your computer or in a filing cabinet in your home office. Even better, keep both physical and electronic copies.
Having all your documentation together and your monthly and yearly payments organised (in a spreadsheet, written in a notebook or stored in a computer programme or phone app) will mean when it’s time to pay your bills, you will have everything you need right in front of you, and there will be less chance of you missing a payment and racking up any debt.
4) Pay off your debts
It’s never a good idea to be in debt. If you are, you must evaluate your situation and take action to pay off the debts as soon as possible. Debt payments should be included in your monthly budget - work out how much you need to pay monthly and for how long - and write this (in bold!) in your budget.
There are different ways to tackle debt repayment. You may have the option of consolidating your debts, so you pay them all off together. Alternatively, you could utilise the “avalanche” approach wherein you pay off debts with the highest interest rate first. It could be worth talking to a financial advisor if you are concerned about paying off your debts.
There are just six months left to claim back PPI that was mis-sold to you. Many people don’t even realise that they had PPI in the first place, so it’s absolutely worth checking if you were one of them!
PPI refunds can range from a few hundred pounds to thousands.
PPI was mis-sold to tens of thousands of consumers across the UK when they took out mortgages, loans, credit cards, store cards and other financial products. It was ‘mis-sold’ because many people did not understand the T&Cs, did not need it, and didn’t even know they had it. This is not appropriate behaviour from your bank or lender.
It’s important to complete your PPI check sooner rather than later, because as the claims deadline (29 August) quickly approaches. Banks are likely to be dealing with an increased number of cases and it will likely mean that cases are taking longer to resolve.
In fact, banks are getting slower and slower at checking these claims, with some taking 32 weeks or more. It’s possible then that consumers could miss out on their refund due to the approaching deadline.
That’s why we would advise everybody to enlist the assistance of a qualified financial claims solicitor to check for PPI on their behalf. This will maximise the chances of you receiving the refund you are entitled to.
For more information on PPI, read our article.
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