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Snow day! Time for a financial check-up?

Snow day! Time for a financial check-up?

Category: Money
Author: Lieke Braadbaart
Date: 10/08/2018

MONEYFACTS ARCHIVE
This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

As millions of Brits are struggling to get to work today, or may have already given up on getting there, you may find yourself with some unexpected free time. While it's tempting to go out and build a snowperson, if you're looking at finance news you may be inclined to do a quick check on your finances. We're here to help.

Current account

First, take a look at your current account. Are you happy with your provider? Are you getting any extras, such as interest, complimentary travel insurance or cashback on your spending? Are you paying for the privilege of having a bank account?

If you're not getting any extras, you shouldn't need to pay for doing your everyday banking. See if you can switch to a free bank account instead to save some money, or find yourself a high interest paying account to get something back.

Savings

Do you currently own a savings account, and do you know how much interest you're getting? Have a look through your paperwork, then check the rates available in the Best Buys. If you're not in the middle of a fixed rate term, you could easily switch online today and up your savings interest.

Those who currently have a Help to Buy ISA should be especially alarmed, as the deadline to switch their entire savings pot over to a lifetime ISA is rapidly approaching. If you wait until after 5 April to transfer your Help to Buy funds to a lifetime ISA, you won't be able to switch more than the maximum £4,000 allowed to be saved in the latter. As Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, puts it: "if you miss this deadline, there are three benefits you'll miss out on: you won't get up to £1,100 in bonuses; you'll use up your allowance for 2018/19; and you may be left with more HTB cash to switch next year."

Given the higher Government bonus you might be able to get with a lifetime ISA, think carefully before you miss out. Of course, most lifetime ISAs are of the stocks and shares variety, so they come with more risk than the cash-based Help to Buy ISAs. That said, there's nothing stopping you from having some long-term savings in an investment account while keeping other funds in cash. And it's always a good idea to have an easy access emergency pot anyway – with a top-10 rate, preferably.

Utilities

The experts at Energyhelpline have calculated that the 'Beast from the East' will add £26.6 million to our collective heating bill this week. To keep some of this cost in check, you may want to have a look at your energy provider and see if you could benefit from switching.

Less relevant, but equally as potentially cost-saving, could be switching to a better broadband provider or seeing what you could save on insurance. Over the course of a year, these costs can really add up.

Mortgages

Last, but certainly not least, we once again warn you that mortgage rates are going up. While you won't be able to switch your mortgage over the course of a snowy afternoon, it could be worth having a look to see what you could save by switching over to a top fixed rate mortgage deal.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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