JEFF PRESTRIDGE: These are the New Year's resolutions I'm planning to keep

27 December 2019

There are several financial bits and pieces I am determined to tidy up in the weeks ahead


I enjoy this time of the year. A period to plan for the future and be positive. To think about summer holidays, maybe plan a few home improvements.

I am already looking forward to resurrecting the cruise trip I was going on with mother before breast cancer got in the ugly way. Although Mum won’t admit it, she has made a remarkable recovery from her operation and is as feisty as she has ever been. A bit of early summer sun will do her the world of good. Valletta, Athens and Santorini, here we come. Deckchairs, calm seas and the occasional glass of bubbles.

I am also keen to up the ante on the running front. I met a remarkable man the other day who has lost a couple of stone by running every day. I hadn’t seen him for a while and was blown away by how lean and mean he has become. I am determined to follow in his footsteps. No more excuses for not going for a gentle jog in between work deadlines. I will get outside and clear my head. Work hard, play hard.

I will also take time out to think about money issues and ask myself: “Am I doing all the right personal finance things in my life or could I be improving my money strategy?” The respective answers I know already – no and yes.

On a positive note, I have just fixed the payment rate on my Santander home loan for the next two years – a step that buys me short-term payment certainty. I have also been making small, regular overpayments by popping into my local Santander branch whenever I am nearby. The odd £100 here, the occasional £150 there. By the time the end of 2021 arrives, I want to be in a position to be shot of the mortgage. It would feel as if a yoke had been removed from my neck.

I’ve also been adopting the same approach towards my Cash ISA. Although savings rates remain painfully unattractive, I still like the financial comfort that it brings. So whenever I’m near a Metro Bank branch, I think about depositing another £50 – or £100 if I feel flush (which is not often). Indeed, I’ve got to know the staff at one branch quite well. They know what I am going to do before I hand over my cash.

I see my Cash ISA as an emergency fund – a financial tank to draw water from if a tax bill needs to be paid, odd teeth need to be filled, or I tread on my spectacles and need a new pair.  It is flexible and money that I can access on demand. It is also the closest I will get in terms of creating my own mini tax haven – a fund that no Chancellor of the Exchequer can get their greedy hands on.

If I could just be a little more committed on the mortgage overpayment and Cash ISA topping up fronts – for example, never walking past Santander and Metro branches without going in – I would feel a lot happier financially.

The same goes for my Investment ISA. For a while, I haven’t been making regular monthly payments into it – for all kinds of reasons: political uncertainty, other financial priorities and the fact that every time I try to reinstate my direct debit payment with the platform provider I have my ISA with, it hasn’t kicked into action. Maybe I should have ironed out the problem earlier, but I will put my Investment ISA back on track.

Nothing too sexy, nothing too adventurous. Just regular monthly contributions into a spread of global investment trusts renowned for their ability to increase their dividend payments every year by investing in an international spread of companies.

For choice, I won’t look beyond the ‘dividend heroes’ list that the investment trust trade organisation – the Association of Investment Companies – publishes on its website ( These are trusts that all have delivered at least 20 years of consecutive annual increases in dividend payments to investors.

There are other financial bits and pieces I am determined to tidy up in the weeks ahead. I have clung on to the supplier of my home electricity (British Gas) for far too long on the basis of convenience when logic tells me I should shop around for a cheaper provider. Loyalty never pays – an argument that also applies to motor and home insurance.

I will be reviewing all my direct debit payments to ensure I really need them. Last year’s direct debit audit resulted in the culling of a subscription for a gym that I rarely used. A monthly saving of £100. No doubt, there will be something I can cull this time around too. 

Jeff Prestridge is the personal finance editor of The Mail on Sunday.