Food for thought

476219219Are you a tail-end Charlie or the first in line when it comes to using up your tax breaks? I only ask because Danny Cox from investment management company Hargreaves Lansdown has sent me a little note reminding me that, if I haven’t already topped up my ISA, I have until midnight on Saturday to do it ( Midnight? I know I am the queen of the procrastinators but how many people need to inject such needless drama into their lives that they feel compelled to buy an ISA at ten minutes to midnight on a Saturday night? Plenty apparently because the brokers at Hargreaves Lansdown completed their last ISA at 23.59 and 49 seconds in the 2012/13 tax year – the last of six people who bought ISAs in the last two minutes before the deadline.

What is it that compels us to put ourselves through such needless stress and pressure? I think it’s a combination of panic and personality – mixed in with a good dollop of self-delusion and arrogance.

People who avoid deadlines and dealing with money issues – and I put myself at the top of the queue here – somehow feel that to be seen to care about things like interest rates and tax bills makes you a teensy bit dull, so we avoid it like the plague, until we have to.

What we forget is that by not tackling the mundane things in life, like the bills, the savings accounts and the tax returns, we are actually throwing money away. The people who get these things under control and started saving money early are the ones who will have money to burn when they are older.

The other thing Danny warned me not to forget was to top up my pension – and before you drift off at the back – you do realise that for every £1000 a year you put into a pension the Government will contribute another £250 in tax relief? And if you’ve got a work pension you could save even more because your employer will contribute too. I’m not nagging – I’m just saying.

The upshot is that instead of spending yet another Saturday night out with the girls, or the boys, you could invest the time and money you are about to blow on a bottle of Prosecco and a pizza into planning, and paying for your future. To put that into context – if I put the price of a £30 weekly pizza night out or a family takeaway night in into a pension for 30 years, it would be worth a whopping £120,541.81 – that’s enough to pay for about 40 holidays in Italy – AND, without all those pizzas inside me I’d be thin enough to brave the beach.

Food for thought indeed!

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