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Holly's Blog: Self-improvement frenzies

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Yes buckle up folks, because it’s that time of year when we’re all going to become teetotal, socially aware, tight-butted, planet-saving legends with kitchens manically sorted into coloured-coded Tupperware. And of course it’s also time to become the Wolf of Wall Street and brush up on that perfect Excel spreadsheet with all your wonderful insurance/mortgage/savings accounts beautifully itemised too.

[Pause to feel exhausted]. Meanwhile, back in the real world, there are gentler things that everyone can do to get things looking a little sharper on the money front. Here are some examples:

  1. Are you self-employed and a bit stuffed on the pension front? Could you set up an account and stick £25 a month into it? You can do this online and it’s not that hard or time consuming. See who we rate.
  2. Are you the money delegator in your household and oblivious to what you have and where it is? Take an hour to run through everything with the Money Wallah Designate. At least get your head around what you have and where.
  3. Have you got some money sitting limply in a current account which could be saved into a longer-term Stocks and Shares ISA? Or if you want cash at least make sure it’s working – the best easy access accounts are paying 1.5%. For example, Goldman Sachs’ new Marcus service is having a big push and pays 1.49% (which includes a bonus rate of 0.15% for the first 12 months).
  4. Is 2019 the year to put your money where your mouth is and add a socially responsible fund or portfolio to your investments? Maybe it’s time to ditch those preconceptions that ethical = lower returns too…
  5. When was the last time you switched energy providers – you could take 10 minutes this weekend and get a better deal. I look at USwitch every 6 – 12 months and it doesn’t take long to do.
  6. If you are one of the millions of Brits without a will, even doing one online is better than nowt. Especially if you have divorced, married, had kids or changed circumstances. Some solicitors offer a service online which they also check over from about £145 per will.

Our financial fitness quiz walks you through 6 core questions and delivers a tailored action plan with links, tips and ideas – you can access it here or share with a friend.

Finally, great excitement at Boring HQ today as we check in on our test accounts. At the beginning of last January we put £500 into similar portfolios with over 25 different providers – now it’s time to see how they’ve done over the last year.

In 2018, total returns (which means the change in share prices plus any cash dividends paid out) of the FTSE 100 shares were a gloomy -8.7%. At a first glance it looks as though our mid-range risk portfolios ( a mix of shares, bonds and cash) have fallen from £500 to a range of about £455 to £480 after fees. We’ll report back next week and show you the scores on the doors.

Have a great weekend everyone. Day 4 into dry(er) January… will we make it?!

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