After experiencing the disparity of the times taken for the transfer of personal pensions funds to an annuity provider, I think that there’s a case for the introduction of a mandatory maximum transfer time for open market options (when you don’t buy your annuity from the company with whom you hold your personal pension pot).
I had personal pension posts with two companies. My annuity broker, Annuity Line, sent out transfer request forms to Standard Life and Aviva, received by both firms on 29 April 2014. My annuity provider, Partnership Assurance, had received the funds from Standard Life on 2 May. However, it took until 13 May for the funds to arrive from Aviva.
The 13 May was the day before the rate guarantee from Partnership Assurance expired.
I suffered from some rather intense bouts of hay fever in late June and early July 2014. I found that the usual one a day antihistamine tablet wasn’t having the desired effect. This, in addition to the fact that even an anti-drowsiness antihistamine makes me feel dopey, prompted me into looking at other possible remedies.
I read up on light therapy, where a low-level red light is emitted to reduce the sensitivity of the nose. At first, I was rather sceptical. However, the Boots Electronic Allergy Relief Device scored 3.8 out of 5 in reviews, it cost £15 and had a two-year guarantee.
I had a ‘£1 off when you spend £5 on healthcare vouchers’, one of the offers when I scanned my Boots Loyalty Card at the in-store kiosk, which reduced the price for the device to £14.
Online peer-to-peer lender Zopa have produced a useful guide about Peer-To-Peer NISAs.
Earlier this year, the UK Chancellor announced a big shake up to the tax-free ISAs regime, dubbed New ISAs (NISAs).
From July 2014, the annual subscription limit was increased to £15,000 and transfers either way between Cash and Stocks ISAs were permitted. Another change, due to be implemented in early 2015, was the inclusion of peer-to-peer lending into NISAs.
When I was researching the Newcastle Building Society Big Home Saver Account, I noticed that the Newcastle offer a ‘MaximISA’ which allows you to split your annual New Individual Savings Accounts (NISA) allowance between different Newcastle accounts. As an example, you could split your annual £15,000 allowance, putting £5,000 into an instant access account, £4,000 into a fixed rate account and deposit £500 a month (totalling £6,000) into a monthly saver account.
Under Her Majesty’s Customs & Revenue (HMRC) regulations you can only open one Cash NISA in each tax year. However as long as you split your allowance between accounts with the same provider, HMRC consider this to be one Cash NISA.
Despite the forthcoming changes to UK pensions which will allow you to take your whole pension pot as cash (subject to income tax after the 25% tax-free lump sum has been taken), I used my personal pension pot to buy an annuity (an income for life) as soon as I was 55 earlier this year. As it’s a big decision to take, which can’t be reversed, I did a lot of research and consulted an online independent financial adviser. I’m happy with my decision, below are the reasons why.
It’s Great to Have a Guaranteed Income for Life
Being self-employed, my earnings can fluctuate, so it’s great to know that I have a guaranteed income for the rest of my life. I bought an index-linked annuity, which means that my income will go up by the rate of inflation (RPI) every year. It was very tempting to go for a level annuity, which pays out the same amount every year, as the initial payment was more than 60% higher. But then I thought what if inflation is high, the income from the annuity could be almost worthless in thirty years time, when I may not be able to work to top up my income.
For me, saving into a pension was about securing a steady income which will maintain its spending power throughout the remainder of my life.
You can save money by being on the lookout for deals and axing services that you no longer use or need. With so many household bills now being paperless and paid by direct debit and auto-renewals on insurance policies, it’s all too easy to keep paying too much for your living expenses. I’ll illustrate how being on the ball can reduce your living costs with a few recent personal experiences.
I’d been paying £3.50 a month for BT Call Sign. This service gives you an additional phone number. When this number if called,, there’s a different ring tome. I used this to give me a separate business phone number. However, as I’m an online publisher most of my communication is carried out through emails. As I have a mobile phone, I decided to give that as a my business number.
I took up the offer of three month’s free membership of the Gourmet Society available through Nationwide’s ‘Simply Rewards‘. I really liked the fact that you don’t need to give any bank account or card details to sign up for the trial.
I received my membership pack through the post around one week after signing up online. If you want to use the app, you’re given an activation code as soon as you’ve signed up.
Included in the pack was a print out of the participating restaurants within striking distance of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
We’ve had our home buildings and contents insurance with Direct Line for a few years. Their ‘Home Insurance Plus’ includes cover, such as accidental damage, contents away from home, home emergency and legal protection, which incur additional charges with many standard home insurance policies. Direct Line ‘Home Insurance Plus’ also includes annual worldwide travel insurance.
The Direct Line renewal price was £253, £30 more than last year’s price of £223. I was able to reduce that price to £219, a saving of £34, by getting a new online quote instead of accepting the renewal price.
I did some shopping around to check out home insurance prices from other providers. Initially, I thought that the £157 quoted by esure which appeared to offer similar cover to the Direct Line, apart from the annual travel insurance, sounded good. On closer inspection, the esure contents cover was for £30,000 compared to £100,000, the contents away from home cover was for a maximum of £3,000 compared to £5,000 and the excess was £200 compared to the £50 on the Direct Line policy. I upped the home contents cover to £50,000 and lowered the excess to £50, which increased the esure price to £166.
In the past we had telephone answering machines, but they’d always been problematic. Therefore we decided to use the free BT 1571 voicemail service. The disadvantage of 1571 was that the only way you were alerted to messages was by a different dialling tone when you lifted the phone. Whereas most answering machine emit a bleep when there are messages.
We recently bought our first digital cordless phone, a BT 6500 which incorporated an answering machine, so we decided that we give it a try. I decided to cancel the 1571 service, so that it didn’t cut in before our own answering machine could take the call.
I logged into my BT account to try to cancel 1571. However, to my surprise, the following month a £1.75 charge for BT 1571 appeared on our bill.