Take full advantage of tax relief
THE Olympics has inspired many of us to make the most of our spare time by taking up volunteering.
Financial advisers say it is important to capitalise on our spare cash too, by making sure you are getting a competitive rate on your savings.
Notthingham CVS, which works to link city charities with new volunteers, saw a 17 per cent increase in inquiries over the summer compared with last year.
External services director Jo Dean said "The 2012 Olympic games have been inspirational. There were 70,000 Games Makers who gave their time to make the Olympics so successful and now we're seeing more of Nottingham's citizens offering their time as a result."
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Nottingham CVS had its own Games Maker, Susan, who volunteered in the Olympic Park.
Her day job is to advise local charities on how to get funding to run the services they want to offer.
But for Olympic fortnight, she took unpaid leave to be one of the welcoming faces at the Olympic Park.
The Games might be over but you could do something equally worthwhile. Visit www.do-it.co.uk or www.nottinghamcvs.co.uk. Or you could drop in and see an adviser at Nottingham CVS at 7 Mansfield Road.
The UK’s biggest day of volunteering – CSV Make a Difference Day - takes place this year on Saturday October 2012. To find out how to get involved visit http://www.csv.org.uk
Meanwhile, when it comes to savings, you need to ensure that you take full advantage of tax relief and make your money work for you.
Each person can invest a maximum of £5,640 a year in a tax-free cash ISA, so that is your first move.
But as the years go by, don't automatically leave the money where it is, Check that you are still getting a competitive rate of interest.
If you are not, look as the possibility of transferring to a deal that pays more.
An example is the West Brom WebSave ISA 6 account, which pays an impressive 3.18% annual interest on a minimum investment of £1,000. This rate includes a 1.66% bonus which is payable until the end of September, 2013.
The 3.18% rate is the Annual Equivalent Rate (AER) and is slightly higher than the account's quoted 3.16% tax-free rate. This is because the AER reflects the fact that interest is credited to the account on April 5, 2013, meaning interest is then paid on interest until the end of the bonus period.
The maximum you can invest in the account this tax year is the annual cash ISA allowance of £5,640, but you can also move any additional funds held in existing cash ISAs into the account, up to a maximum of £75,000.
You can make withdrawals whenever you want, but you must give 60 days' notice each time or lose 60 days' interest.
This account can only be opened and operated online.
The Coventry 60-Day Notice ISA pays a higher rate of 3.25% tax-free, but it does not accept transfers-in from existing ISAs. That means the maximum you can invest this tax year is £5,640. You can open the account with a minimum investment of £1.
The rate includes a 0.50% bonus paid for the first year the account is open. Again, you must give 60 days' notice if you want to make a withdrawal.
If you need urgent access to your money then, you can make a withdrawal without giving notice, but you will be charged 60 days' interest on the amount withdrawn.
The Coventry account is operated by telephone, but can also be operated in branches, by post or online.
Neither account will suit savers who need regular access to their cash, as you have to give notice before you make a withdrawal.
Remember too that both accounts' rates include a bonus, which means that you may want to move your money once the bonus period ends.
With any account that includes a bonus in the rate, always make a note of when the bonus disappears, as you will need to move your money at that point if the rate is no longer competitive.
If you don't want to keep moving your money, then your best bet may be to go for a 'clean rate' account, with a rate that doesn't include a short-term bonus.
Virgin's offering of 2.85% makes its easy access ISA he best 'clean' rate ISA on the market, both for transfers and new ISA money.
The account permits savers to make unlimited withdrawals without notice and allows transfers-in from other ISAs.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.