February Financial To-Do List

VIDEO: Our monthly to-do list helps you decide which areas of your finances to focus on. In Feburary, we look at switching

Holly Black 1 February, 2021 | 10:06AM
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Holly Black: Welcome to Morningstar. I'm Holly Black. This is your February financial To-Do List. Each month, we're helping you decide which areas of your finances to focus on.

So, if you've had the heating cranked up to 11 for the past few weeks, now might be the time to start thinking about switching energy supplier. If you are, and you are provided a standard variable tariff, you could be overpaying by more than £300 a year. So, to do this, start by grabbing a recent energy bill that would tell you the name of your provider, your tariff, how much energy you are using and how much you're spending. So, you can shop around using comparison sites like Uswitch or MoneySuperMarket. If you put your post code in, they'll tell you what deals are available at your address.

You need to do a little bit of reading up because there are lots of different tariffs. There are economy that have cheaper rates for energy use between midnight and 7:00 AM, fixed rates or perhaps green rates, if that's important to you. Things to check – find out whether the new supplier requires a smart meter or if there's an upfront cost. And find out if there's an exit fee for leaving your old supplier. You'll also want to find out the balance on your old supplier's account in case you're in credit and due a refund. If you select your new supplier and they are a member of the Energy Switch Guarantee, they'll do all the legwork for you. They'll make sure the switch happens within 21 days and they'll speak to your old provider so that you're not double charged in the month you switch.

So, while we're on the subject of switching, let's talk bank accounts because us Brits are notoriously bad at switching here. A lot of us stick with the same bank our whole life. In fact, we're more likely to get divorced than change our current account. But have you ever stopped to ask, could you be getting a better service or a better deal elsewhere? So, depending on what's important to you, that will influence which bank you choose. You might want a whizzy app, so you don't have to go in branch and fill out forms. You might want the bank with the best savings accounts out there. Other banks offer rewards or incentives for switching. There might be cash back on the account or there are packaged accounts where you pay a monthly fee and you can get things like travel insurance or gym membership.

Switching here again super easy, but since the current account switching service came in, the whole thing should only take about 7 days. You just need to open the account with your new provider and again, they do the hard work and they'll even get your direct debit switched over, so you don't have to deal with all that admin, too.

So, February's financial To-Do List – one, switch your energy provider; two, switch your bank account, might all sound a bit admin heavy, but in the long run could save you a lot of money and get you a better service or a better deal. We will see you next month.

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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About Author

Holly Black  is Senior Editor, Morningstar.co.uk


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