Money dates for your 2014 diary

Forewarned is forearmed, as they say, so grab a pen and your new diary as we run through the most important dates for your finances in the coming year.

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When: January 31
What: Online tax return

Those who file a self-assessment tax return (and if you do, you’ll know about it by now) have until January 31 to file it, or face a penalty.

When: March to April
What: Watch out for fixed rate energy tariffs ending

Fixed your energy prices and dodged the ‘Big Six’ price hikes in 2013? You’ll still need to make a note of when your fixed deal ends if you want to stay ahead of the game.

Several fixes come to an end over the next few weeks and months, such as the British Gas Fix and Fall March 2014, EDF Energy Blue +Price Promise April 2014 and the Scottish Power Fixed Price Energy April 2014 tariffs – although other deals expire the whole year round.  And if you don’t take action in time, you’ll most likely be shunted onto your supplier’s standard tariff, which can be the most expensive option.

Mark the tariff end date in your diary and return to our energy comparison channel to find the best new deal. In fact, you needn’t wait until your fix ends - if your tariff has no charges for leaving early, you should regularly shop around to check you’re still on the cheapest tariff. Switching is simple (read my guide for proof) and could save you up to £240 a year.

When: March 19
What: The Budget

The 2014 Budget is the last big one before the General Election in May 2015, so there’s a chance we’ll get some vote-baiting giveaways. For example, following his recent Autumn Statement, the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced that parents who opened Child Trust Funds (CTFs) would be able to transfer them across to a Junior ISA (probably from April 2015) which you can read more about here. He also said, however, that austerity measures will have to continue in order to cut the deficit. Either way, it pays to keep abreast of Budget plans and how they could affect your finances.

When: Check your paperwork
What: 0% deal on credit card expires

If you’ve used a 0% purchase credit card to help you spread the cost of a large purchase over several months interest-free, or a 0% balance transfer credit card to give you some breathing space and pay down an outstanding debt, it’s important to make a note of when the 0% deal ends. If you let a balance linger on after this time, borrowing suddenly becomes very expensive, with the average annual percentage rate (APR) currently sitting at 17.89%.

So mark the 0% end date in your diary and either ensure you have cleared your balance before then, or transfer it onto another card.

When: April 5
What: Deadline to use up ISA allowance

The new tax year starts on April 6, so you have until April 5 to use up your ISA allowance for the current tax year, if you haven’t already.

You can currently invest £11,280 into an ISA - £5,640 of which can be saved in a cash ISA. The other £5,640, or the full £11,280, can be invested in a stocks and shares ISA. Be aware that some providers start closing their doors to applications before the April 5 deadline – so if you want to take advantage of the tax-free wrapper, you’ll need to keep your eyes on the ball to get the best deal.

And remember, as of April 6, you’ll have your new ISA allowance of £11,880 to take advantage of – up to half of which can be saved in a cash ISA.

When: May/June/July – but check your policy documents
What: Shop around for new travel insurance

Looking forward to a summer getaway in 2014? If you bought an annual travel insurance policy in 2013, make a note of when it expires so that you can shop around for the best price come renewal time. While you’re at it, check the expiry date on your passport and apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you don’t already have one and are heading to Europe.

When: Check your policy documents
What: Shop around for new car insurance

Your car insurance will expire at some point in 2014, and the last thing you should do is let the renewal date go by as your insurer gleefully renews your policy automatically.

Make a note of your current policy end date and keep an eye out for your renewal letter, which should arrive within a month of then. When the time comes, head over to our car insurance channel and find the best possible price for the cover you need.

When: August 20
What: Start saving for Christmas

With the cost of the summer holidays almost behind you, it’s not too early to turn your attentions to Christmas. Opening an easy access savings account now, if you haven’t already, will give you four clear months to save for the 2014 festive period which could make it a lot less stressful than last year’s.

When: September 
What: Back to school

If you’ve got kids to kit out for school this year, don’t overlook the whole raft of deals and discounts you can get online which, of course, apply all year round.

When: October 1
What: Pay car tax by monthly instalments

From October 1, you’ll be able to pay for your car tax in monthly instalments via direct debit, and won’t have to display a tax disc on your vehicle.

When: Check your paperwork
What: Savings account bonus ends

Some of the best savings rates of 2013 were inflated by temporary bonus rates due to expire this year. If you opened a savings account with a bonus, you should make a note of when it ends and be sure to move your money to a more competitive account.

For example, Derbyshire Building Society’s NetSaver Issue 8 account paid an annual equivalent rate (AER) of 2.20% which included a 1.20% bonus until the end of February 2014. After this point, the rate sinks to just 1.00%, so it’s time to move your money.

It’s well worth bookmarking our savings channel for future reference.

When: November 1
What: Make a will

More than half of UK adults do not have a valid and up-to-date will, according to figures. But while will-writing may not feel like a priority, it’s something that will have to be done if you want to ensure your cash, home and belongings go to the right place in the event of your death.

As always, it’s a case of the sooner the better when it comes to writing a will, but if it gets to November and you still haven’t managed it, keep an eye out for Will Aid – a registered charity that allows you to make or update a will free of charge during the whole of the month (though a contribution to a listed charity of your choice is welcomed).You can read more about the 2013 Will Aid event in Rachel Wait’s article.

When: December 1
What: Final planning date for Christmas

If you found Christmas stressful and expensive in 2013, don’t make the same mistakes in 2014. Start planning and saving well before December if you can but, failing that, make December 1 your final planning date. This way, you will still have time to scour the cheapest deals on your Christmas shopping. You may also still be in time to get a 0% purchase credit card which will spread your costs and provide protection on what you buy.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct

 

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