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Spring clean your finances

Spring clean your finances
Our money columnist Isobel Lawrance is bringing you ways to get your money ready for Spring; just as you’d spring clean your home, you should do the same to your finances
When people ask me where to begin when sorting their money, I tell them to go right back to basics. The best way is to look at your bank statements. Print out three to six months of statements, and grab some coloured pens.
"When people ask me where to begin when sorting their money, I tell them to go right back to basics"
Go through your bank statements carefully, transaction by transaction. With one colour, highlight your "needs". This includes rent and mortgage payments, utility bills, food and fuel. Things you genuinely need to pay for to live.
Next, highlight your "wants". These are payments for subscription services, clothes, takeaways and dinners out. This may include coffee on your way to work, grabbing lunch on your break or even a gym membership.
You’ll be surprised how much money goes out every month on your "wants". Of course, you’re allowed to spend on the occasional takeaway, and if you’re an avid gym goer, spend on a membership. However, you may be shocked at just how much of your cash is going on things you don’t necessarily need. 
"You’ll be surprised how much money goes out every month on your "wants""
After you’ve worked out your monthly income, outgoings and where to cut back, you can create yourself a budget. Make sure you factor in any debt or credit repayments you may have.
I also recommend an app I recently discovered called Little Birdie. It’s a new, free and easy-to-use app that helps you manage bills and regular payments in one place. I found out I was paying for Amazon Music—something I don’t think I’ve ever used! This was setting me back £8.99 a month without me realising. 

Be savvy this spring

Spring not only brings warmer weather, but a multitude of opportunities to make and save money. The end of the tax year is approaching (April 5th), and there are many things you can do before this to make the most of your money.

1. Use up your ISA allowance

There’s an annual limit on how much you can save in your ISA. This resets at the end of the tax year, so make sure to put away all you can to take advantage of tax-free savings. If you have kids, consider opening and putting money into a Junior ISA.

2. Top up your pension

You get tax relief on pension contributions up to £40,000 per year. If you have some savings, consider putting a small amount in your pension. You’ll thank yourself later!

3. Consider inheritance tax

If you are thinking about your inheritors, now is a good time to make sure you max out the amount you can give away each tax year without it being taken as part of your estate.

Freebies and deals

  • Get paid to read: Would you like to earn £1,000 to read for 30 minutes before bed? Get Laid Beds are on the hunt for someone to report how books improved or diminished their sleep. Find out more here.
  • Free beauty products: Become a Boots volunteer and get sent free beauty products. If you are chosen to come along to the centre to try products in person, you can earn up to £125. Find out more here.
  • Free dry cleaning: Unemployed and going for a job interview? At Timpsons, you can get your outfit cleaned free of charge. Pop into your local Timpsons and chat with your colleagues so they can ensure you’re off to a genuine interview. They’ll do the rest so you can look your best!
Written by Isobel Lawrance, money content writer at MoneyMagpie.com 
Image of Money Magpie money content writer Isobel Lawrence