Make your months pay

20th April 2007 at 01:00
So you're done with the new year's resolutions: the gym membership is looking like a waste of money and chocolate is back on the shopping list.

But when it comes to your finances, you've still got a chance to make a clean sweep.

With April being the start of the financial year, now is the time you need to make your money resolutions - and stick to them.

So here, with the help of Moneyfacts, the financial experts, is your cut-out-and-keep financial calendar. Pop it on your fridge door, or even on the staffroom noticeboard, and check it every month. Make sure you include dates that are specific to you, like when a 0 per cent credit card deal runs out, when a hire purchase agreement ends or when the direct debit payments from your bank account stop. Simple steps, but they could save you a lot

April

Start the financial year with a clean sweep - file statements and essential documents and shred what is no longer needed. If you are running a business as well as teaching, keep statements for six years. Otherwise, you just need to keep them for two.

May

If you haven't already started, put money aside for your summer break.

Estimate how much you will need and how much you need to save between now and going away. Check out www.moneyfacts.co.uk to see which savings account gives the best interest.

June

Peak season for home buying so make sure you are on the best mortgage deal.

Check when your current arrangement ends. If you are on a standard variable rate, you could be paying far more than you need. Look for the best fixed rate deals on www.moneyfacts.co.uk or www.fool.co.uk.

July

Set up direct debits to pay your bills while you're away on holiday to avoid late payment penalties. Check you've got adequate buildings and contents insurance to cover your home while you're away. Have you bought expensive jewellery or furniture since you last reviewed it? See also www.moneysupermarket.com to make sure you're not paying over the odds.

Signing up online could save you more.

August

Is your child about to start at university? If so, you're about to become the Bank of Mum and Dad. Make sure you have planned for the years ahead and check your child gets the best bank account. If you need help check www.unbiased.co.uk, the official website for IFA Promotion, the industry body responsible for promoting independent financial advisers.

September

A new school year, and the chance to reassess your finances. Use any "spare" money to pay off credit card debts, or overpay on your mortage.

Make your money work harder for you in a high-interest savings account.

Visit www.moneyfacts.co.uk for the best deals. Don't forget to submit your tax form by the end of this month if you want HM Revenue and Customs to calculate your tax.

October

The nights are drawing in and the heating and lighting bills start to go up. Check you are getting the best deal from your supplier. See www.uswitch.com or www.energywatch.org.uk. Also check your pet insurance, even furry friends get the sniffles at this time of year.

November

Christmas is getting closer. How are those savings accounts doing? Check what you've got and plan your shopping list before you hit the shops. It can be easier to budget if you shop online - just make sure you keep a careful record of your purchases.

December

So, OK, we all get carried away. But if you must spend, at least get a 0 per cent credit card and work out exactly what you can afford to spend on the card - and pay off within the 0 per cent period.

January

Batten down the hatches and work out exactly what your monthly outgoings are - including any credit card debt and one-off payments such as servicing the boiler or burglar alarm. Work out what you've got left and start saving again. If you are a self-assessment taxpayer, make sure you file before January 31 or you face a pound;100 fine. See www.hmrc.co.uk to register and file online.

February

Thinking of buying a new car? Buy now, just before the registration plate change in March, and you could get yourself a great deal. Don't opt for forecourt finance unless it's 0 per cent.

March

Make sure you have made the most of your tax-free savings for this tax year. You have until April 5 to open an ISA. If you're planning more than one trip abroad this year, organise your travel insurance ahead of the summer rush and get the best deals. See www.moneysupermarket.com. Also visit www.hmrc.gov.uk to see whether you're missing out on any tax credits - pound;2.6 billion go unclaimed each year - or if you've paid too much tax this year.

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