January – Stick to New Year resolutions to be debt free
"Write down what you owe on credit cards, loans and overdrafts and the interest rate and monthly repayments for each,” says Andrew Hagger from MoneyComms. Then focus your efforts on paying off the borrowing with the highest interest-rate first. Track your progress each month on a spreadsheet, handwritten record or use our Budget Planner. Seeing your debt decreasing will give you the encouragement to keep going!"
February – Love your finances
When did you and your partner last talk money? "Four in five couples discuss their future finances but only half turn conversations into concrete plans,” says Vince Smith-Hughes at Prudential. “To secure a target income in retirement, seek professional advice together from a financial advisor.”
- Tip: Write your will and arrange power of attorney using Yours Retirement Services via www.yours.co.uk/retirement-services or call 0808 156 9012.
March - Spring clean your savings!
March is a good time to research best ISA deals because April is the new ISA season. "You can now invest up to £15,000 in ISAs," says Rachel Springall at Moneyfacts.co.uk. "Some of the easiest to manage are Cash Isas which allow easy access or you can fix to gain a higher return. Remember to transfer an ISA if it’s no longer a good deal- don’t cash it in or you’ll lose its tax-free status."
- Tip: Find out why you should have an ISA here. Plus check the best buy cash ISA rates using Moneyfacts.
April - Get tax savvy
The new tax years starts on April 5th. "Use your annual allowances including your ISA allowance, as early as you can in the tax year to benefit from a whole year’s tax savings,” says Danny Cox at Hargreaves Lansdown. “Married couples (or civil partners) should hold cash in the name of the person who pays the lowest rate of tax."
- Tip: Want to keep more of your hard-earned cash away from the taxman? Check out our top tax tips here!
May - Perfect your pension
Saving into a personal pension benefits from a Government tax relief boost, adding £200 for every £1,000 saved. “With the new pension freedoms, they've got even better!" says Danny Cox. “From age 55, investors can take all their money out of their pension in one go. The majority of withdrawals are taxable but 25% is tax-free," says Danny. Virtually everyone under age 75 can save into a pension and get the tax kicker, even non-taxpayers.”
- Tip: Find out about the new pension changes here.
June - Get ready for your hols
Use Top10 to search hotel prices from sites including LateRooms and Expedia. Get good flight deals using Skyscanner. Take out holiday insurance as soon as your trip is booked. Beat exchange rates using a Caxton FX currency card. Get competitive rates on airport car-parking using JustPark. If you're holidaying in the EU, get a free EHIC to gain access to local health care here.
- Tip: Fancy a cruise? Find out how to save when you set sail here.
July - Check your credit report
Need a loan for holiday or home improvements? Check your credit rating is up to scratch by registering with one of the credit report agencies – Experian, Callcredit or Equifax. For just £2 you can get a paper copy of your credit check in the post.
- Tip: Alternatively, CreditExpert (from Experian) costs £14.99 a month, but you get the first 30 days free with no obligation to remain a subscriber.
August - Ditch pricey insurance renewals
Never accept your insurer's renewal quote - it won't be the best price they can offer. Instead collect better quotes from other insurers then ask your provider if it can match or beat it. Find ways to cut premiums further. For instance, Lucy Burnford of Motoriety.co.uk suggests keeping car insurance down by adding a low-risk driver to your policy and not overestimating annual mileage.
- Tip: Compare the cheapest quotes and earn cashback and voucher rewards when you buy via TopCashBack.
September - Get ready for winter bills
"Many people are still paying sky-high rates for gas and electricity, so this time of the year can cause concern,” says Matt Ridout at Energyhelpline.com. “By changing energy supplier, many households could cut hundreds of pounds from their annual bills."
- Tip: Switching with Yours Switching Energy 0800 008 777 or www.energyhelpline.com/yours - it's free, impartial and takes a few minutes and could make a massive difference to your finances for the year ahead.
October - Get a better mortgage
“The savings from changing a small mortgage – up to £25,000 - are unlikely to be worthwhile but with a larger mortgage, even if it only has a few years remaining, significant savings are made by switching to a new rate if the mortgage is on the standard variable rate,” says Ray Boulger at Charcol.co.uk. “Ask your lender what it can offer. Also take advantage of current low rates to overpay each month if possible.”
- Tip: Compare best buy mortgage deals using independent mortgage experts Charcol.co.uk.
November - Remember, remember to get ready for December!
Cut back on spending to free up cash for costly December. Use a budget planner to jot down how much you pay out each month and how much comes in. Next, cancel what you don’t need or switch to lower-cost alternatives.
- Tip: A quick win is to cut back on non-essentials like takeaways - and ditch unused direct debits.
December - Be a wise shopper
"Look in charity shops for items that can be turned into presents,” says Jasmine Birtles at Moneymagpie.com. “Add Christmas non-perishables to your weekly shop and use your store card vouchers or points to buy gifts for others. Spread the cost of get-togethers by splitting food and drink costs with those you're sharing with. Give a gift IOU so you can buy bigger presents in the sales!"
- Tip: Use our Christmas Money Planner to budget for the festivities.
There's more money advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.