LONDON -- With Easter approaching, it's a short week this week, so we'll take an early look at companies going ex-dividend after the long weekend. Whether you want to buy in time to be eligible for a company's dividend payment or you're looking for a bargain share price when the time has passed, it pays to know your target dates.

The FTSE 100 is currently offering an average dividend yield of about 3.1%, so that provides something of a benchmark against which to evaluate individual company payments. Here are three of those companies going ex-dividend in the week commencing April 1:

RSA Insurance
RSA Insurance Group has its full-year ex-dividend date on the traditional Wednesday, April 3, and those on the company's share register when the market opens that day will be eligible to receive a final dividend payment of 3.9 pence per share. The payout was slashed by a third from the same period last year, with Aviva similarly cutting its dividend.


But last year's total of 7.3 pence per share still represents a yield of 6.2% on today's share price of 118 pence -- albeit a price that slumped after the cut was announced.

Standard Life
On the same day, Standard Life will go ex-dividend -- in this case, relating to a final dividend of 9.8 pence per share. Unlike RSA, Standard Life lifted its full-year payment to 14.7 pence per share, though the yield is lower, amounting to a more modest 4%.

For the year to December 2013, current forecasts suggest a total dividend of 15.7 pence per share from Standard Life, which would provide yield of 4.2% on the current share price of 372 pence.

Pearson
Moving away from the insurance sector, Pearson also has its final ex-dividend date on Wednesday. Again, it's a final dividend, this time amounting to 30 pence per share. The publisher of the Financial Times and owner of Penguin Books enjoyed a 5% rise in sales for the year to December 2012, enabling it to lift its total dividend for the year to 45 pence -- that's a yield of 3.8% at today's share price of 1,179 pence.

And even though earnings are forecast to fall slightly for this year, there's a rise in the dividend to 47 pence currently being forecast, taking the yield to 4% for December 2013.

Dividends like these can add nicely to your investment returns -- they can be spent or reinvested, according to your needs. Whether you're investing for income or growth, good old cash is always welcome. And that's why I recommend the brand-new Fool report "The Motley Fool's Top Income Share For 2013," in which our top analysts identify a share they believe will provide handsome dividend income for years to come. But it will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your copy today.

The article 3 FTSE 100 Shares Going Ex-Dividend Next Week originally appeared on Fool.com.

Alan Oscroft has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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