Week three in Lockdown: time for a “Financial Spring Clean”?

So, here we are into week three of “official lockdown”. Just over two weeks since Boris Johnson announced that we should “stay at home”. Some of you will be balancing working from home with educating your children. Others will have been furloughed. And we know that for some of you, those of you in high risk groups or over 70, have actually been at home longer. It’s certainly challenging times, and seeing our Prime Minister now in intensive care makes us realise just how serious a situation we’re all in. We need to do all we can to support the efforts, particularly focusing our attention on staying at home.

Markets are less volatile

On a more positive note, the markets have been a little less volatile over the last week or so. Our advice remains that in most circumstances, big changes would not be advisable. With the start of the new tax year, we’ll be in touch with some of you that will be transferring monies from taxable portfolios to ISA and/or pensions. Timing may prove difficult, and there is always the risk that whilst out of the market for a short period of time, you could miss out on part of a recovery in the markets.  However, in the main, we believe that clients will generally benefit from improved tax efficiency.

Time on your hands?

This might continue to be an extremely busy time for many of you. However, for others, not being able to go about your normal way of life may have freed up a lot of time. So, perhaps now might be a good opportunity to do some “financial spring cleaning”!

You might want to:

  • Dig out those action lists that we keep reminding you about, maybe ticking off some of the things you haven’t had chance to get to before. If you need a reminder, we’re more than happy to provide it!
  • Why not take the opportunity to clear out your paperwork? When the office is back up and running, we’d be happy to do any shredding that’s needed – it will be nice to see you. As a guide, I’d suggest:
    • Retaining the latest statements for each of your investments and pensions
    • Keep 12 months’ bank statements
    • Keep 12 months’ utility bills
    • Keep six years tax records, including P60s, P11Ds, tax certificates etc
    • For any closed accounts, just keep the final statement with a big note across the front “CLOSED” – it may help someone at a later date to know this, if they’re going through your paperwork, trying to work out what’s what
  • You could look to consolidate savings accounts. There’s plenty of “best buy” lists out there, but watch out for restrictions on withdrawals, bonus periods etc and always make sure that any balances remain within the Financial Services Compensation Scheme limits. If you would like to run anything past me, please just ask.
  • You might want to review your utility bills. Of course, there are comparison sites out there, but it’s not easy and can prove confusing. Instead, you could use one of the many services that does all the hard work for you, and then auto switches you in the future. Here’s a couple:

So, if you needed something to keep you busy, hopefully that gives you some ideas!

As always, we’re here to answer questions you might have, so do call if you need anything.

Otherwise, stay safe, stay healthy and stay at home.

Best wishes

Nicola and all the Jane Smith Financial Planning team

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