3 new year’s resolutions for your finances (that you can actually keep) in 2017

 

Whilst New Year’s resolutions are always made with the best of intentions, the truth is that they often prove difficult to keep beyond the first few weeks in January. The main reason for this is that the goals we set ourselves are admirable but simply too lofty to achieve. It’s far better to choose a few small but achievable goals that offer incremental positive changes over time.

It’s the same with your finances, and what better time to resolve to sort out how you manage your money than straight after the indulgences of Christmas. Below are three financial New Year’s resolutions that are simple enough to keep up well into 2017, whilst also offering some real benefits for your bank balance.

  • Change your money mindset – this may sound like a big change, but it can be achieved over time through hitting one or two small goals. That £3 coffee you buy every morning before work might seem like a treat you can allow yourself, but if you can cut it out, that’s £15 a week saved, which means at least £60 a month you could put towards your savings for a long term goal.
  • Clear your credit card debt – if you can manage to keep the first resolution, then this one should be that much easier. Every penny you have on a credit card increases the interest you owe, so if you can concentrate your efforts on clearing your balance you’ll have more of your own money to spend, save or invest how you want. Paying a set amount each month that’s more than the minimum payment makes it more manageable, as well as reaching a balance of zero that much quicker.

Save for a rainy day – if you already save, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’re doing okay at managing your finances. But challenge yourself to do even better. Setting up a second savings account and ensuring you only use it for emergencies will protect you from any unexpected expenditure. Even if you’re only paying in a very small amount each month, if you don’t touch it until you absolutely have to, it will grow and grow.

New Year, New Start…Try something new?

http://news-view.co.uk/new-year-new-start-try-something-new/

Our children’s need for planning may be even greater than our own

Research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) surrounding wealth in the UK has been making headlines in recent months. The study has found that people born during the 1980s are now half as wealthy as those born in the 1970s were at the same stage in their lives. This makes children born during the Thatcher era the first generation since the Second World War to earn a smaller income when they reach their thirties than people born ten years before them.

The current average household wealth of people in their thirties is £27,000, a figure dwarfed by that of those in the same age bracket ten years ago, which was £53,000, on average. The IFS suggests that, amongst a number of reasons, the key factors behind this turn of events include continuously low rates of interest and the 2008 global financial crisis, both of which have made it much more difficult for those born in the ‘80s to build up their level of wealth. This in turn, has left the generation with insufficient pension funds and lower levels of home ownership than those enjoyed by generations before them.

The study comes as yet further confirmation of the widening divide between the older and younger generations in the UK. Earlier this year, the IFS also found that whilst those under 30 have seen an average income decrease of 7% since the financial crisis, those over 60 have seen a rise of 11%. This divergence of fortunes in financial matters has in part been made possible by the pensions ‘triple lock’, which has seen the basic state pension rise in line with the highest of either consumer price inflation, average earnings or an increase of 2.5%.

With Brexit making the financial outlook in the UK more and more uncertain for the foreseeable future, the best way to protect yourself and your family from whatever the future may bring is to plan together, rather than allowing one person within your family to become ‘the one who handles the money’. As recent figures suggest that more and more people in the younger generations are saving nothing at all for their future, this is a great way to get your whole family into a positive financial mindset. That way you can protect the wealth passed down through your family into the future and engender a tradition of sensible planning and saving for generations to come.

Sources

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article-3814907/Children-80s-half-wealthy-born-70s.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37471397
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/margaret-thatcher-generation-80s-children-wealth-half-amount-ifs-study-a7338076.html
https://www.theguardian.co/business/2016/sep/30/born-in-early-80s-then-youre-half-as-wealthy-as-1970s-children-says-ifs

The Brexit Effect: Cutting the Living Wage.

You would have to have been living on another planet to have missed the UK’s biggest political news so far this year: Brexit. The vote to leave the EU was a shock to many in the City, and for the large part, the economy has remained stable although there have been times where the Pound lost considerable ground to the Dollar, nonetheless the drastic economic implications are yet to materialise. You may have noticed, Apple products cost more now in the UK post-Brexit and that’s a direct result of the weakening of the Pound due to uncertainty in the British markets.

Naturally, we have never pulled out of the EU before so we aren’t entirely sure what this may mean for the UK economy. Whilst there are many educated predictions, only time and initiating Article 50 will really tell.

As more attention turns towards the Brexit effect, one of the implications which has come to light recently is a reduction in the National Living Wage. Where previously the National Minimum Wage for over-25s was meant to rise from £7.20 to £7.60 per hour, this will now fall 10p short and only rise to £7.50.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37626422

10p may not seem a large amount in the grand scheme of things but this is a result at odds with George Osbourne’s previous policy promises introduced in 2015.  Weak pay growth mean that this 10p off will result in a lower wage long-term and a less progressive future for many. By 2020, the target of taking all over-25s to £9 an hour, simply won’t happen.

So what does this mean for you?

Life has it’s hurdles, this is one of them, but at least you are not on your own, as if everyone is going through the same thing, that will filter through into the economic market you find yourself operating in. Yes, we all have our own micro-economic environment…maybe that’s a topic for another blog.

However, what you may want to be thinking of, in order to prepare for a potential difficult post-Brexit economic climate is how you can increase your income faster than the cost of living and also the reduction of your wage, if you are to be on the minimum living wage that is. That solution is upskilling, learn a new skill, diversify your skillset, don’t think you can’t do it, because you can. Someone once told me, sometime’s it’s not about the goal, it’s about the journey, just maybe that journey in upskilling will bear more fruits than the skill you eventually gain. Oh yes, I actually heard it on Star Trek.

Oh yes, I actually heard it on Star Trek.

Look if you’re one of those who fall in this area, seriously drop us an email and we’ll speak to you about where you are today and help you explore your options…and no we won’t charge for such a consultation. It’s just something that means a lot to us. Some of us have been there too.

 

Disclaimer: The information contained within this article are provided as illustrative purposes only based on legislation at the time of publication. Nothing in this article should be construed as advice or guidance to one’s personal situation. The value of your investments may go up and down, similarly, other aspects of your wider lifestyle and financial context may impact on your objective. In a nutshell, don’t rely on blogs and the articles for personal advice, and always seek advice from a qualified professional.

5 Questions for the Potential Investor

Thinking about investing your personal finances is not a decision to be taken lightly. With so much to consider, just the thought of entrusting your hard-earned money can make your head swim! That being said, there’s no need to feel over-whelmed by making the decision to invest – with our help, you can keep your head above water and discover the right financial move for you.

Whilst taking the step of investing is actually very simple, the wisest investors and quite often those who reap the most lucrative rewards, are those who take the time to look before they leap. Whether you have the urge to jump in feet first or are hanging on to those purse strings for dear life – a few choice questions and a little reasoning will work wonders for your money’s potential as well as your peace of mind.

To help you, we have prepared 5 questions to ask yourself before you invest so that you can be a savvy investor:

1. Why should you invest?

Well put simply – if you want your money to grow and to benefit you as time goes by, investing is the best way to do that. Money that sits idle in a bank account serves little benefit beyond being some nice numbers on your bank statement each month. Investing puts your money to good use as well as increasing its value by being part of a wider project. Invested money is active money and is far more likely to benefit you in the long term than simple saving for a rainy day.

2. When should you invest?

The specific details of what you choose to invest in are up to you but the state of the market is something you should look at and consider. That being said, trying to predict a market or pick your ideal moment will probably just leave you in the starting blocks whilst the race goes on ahead of you. The thing to remember is that all markets experience short-term movement or fluctuations but it is the longer term picture that you should consider. There may never feel like the completely perfect time to invest but with a bit of research you can pick a very good time to put your money in.

3. How should you invest?

Investment markets will have down periods which is something that needs to be taken as the rough with the smooth. To minimise the risk of being adversely affected by these downturns, it may be wise to consider splitting your finances and diversifying your portfolio.  But beware: spread yourself too thinly and you may regret it due to a lack of financial reward and the pressure of keeping on top of too many assets. Choosing a few, specifically selected projects will instead enable you to keep an eye on your money, minimise risk and reap the benefits.

4. Where to invest?

A market that has a healthy long-term future is the best option. One which cannot be predicted to be a flash in the pan but instead is a more like a constant simmer. Giving your money some time to grow IS necessary and the safest, most stable option. So whilst you may be tempted to put your finances into the next big thing, a market which can demonstrate maturity and longevity is the wisest choice.

5. What to invest in?

This really is the million-pound question – and the answer lies entirely with you. After all your considerations, you need to be happy with what you are investing in and stay happy.  Consider regular reviewing your portfolio to check on the health of your investments and the decisions you made. In time, your preferences may change as your life moves forward. For instance – investing abroad may seem like a good idea when you are younger but as you approach retirement, UK investment may seem the more sensible option. Think about the needs of your family, your plans for the future and the benefits that your investments give you (if any) which are not financial.

Considering the questions above will give you a good starting point from which to make your investment choice. And as you take the step forward, you can go in to your investment being satisfied with the decision you have made. Winging it may seem like a good idea with some things in life – but choosing where to entrust your money is not one!

 

Disclaimer: The information contained within this article are provided as illustrative purposes only based on legislation at the time of publication. Nothing in this article should be construed as advice or guidance to one’s personal situation. The value of your investments may go up and down, similarly, other aspects of your wider lifestyle and financial context may impact on your objective. In a nutshell, don’t rely on blogs and the articles for personal advice, and always seek advice from a qualified professional.

Expecting the Unexpected: Protect Your Income

Looking to the future is something most of us only do in the short-term.  We think ‘it will never happen to me’, or ‘we’ve got better things to spend our income on’ and unfortunately planning for the worst is simply not a priority.

The sad truth though is that none of us are immune to illness or injury, which could keep us away from work and considerably impact our lifestyles.

Future-proofing – just in case.

At the very least look at your expenditure habits, be honest with yourself with regards to how long it would take you to return to work, even factor in the possibility of losing your job due to sickness and then looking for new work once you are better. That should give you an idea of how many months worth of income you will need to replace.

That figure should be your initial savings target, before you even think about investing a single penny into stocks and shares. There’s no point investing in stocks and shares which are long term investment vehicles if you have to disinvest at the wrong time, it could cost you and your family a lot of money.

Serious illness or injury that stops you from working is a real concern and affects hundreds of people each year.  Consider the following facts:

  • Nearly 1 million people a year are off work long term sick
  • Most common long-term work absence is stress, mental health and musculoskeletal injuries
  • Musculoskeletal injuries are more common for manual workers and stress is more common for non-manual workers.

You can read more here: http://www.legalandgeneral.com/library/protection/sales-aid/W13952.pdf 

What would you do?

If you were one of those 1 million, or maybe your willing to take that chance? Maybe your thinking population in the UK is around 64 million so it appears as if it’s a 1 in 64 chance. A chance that you are willing to take. BUT, the working population is 31 million, so, now that’s a 1 in 34 chance and we haven’t got to considering your current health, dietary habits, exercise habits and current mental health. If we were to factor those in, the statistics could look a lot scarier.

Income Protection

An income protection policy usually protects your income upto 50% of your gross salary. It’s at 50% primarily to encourage you to return to work and if it is used in conjunction with your savings it can be a useful way to help you manage your finances when things are not going so well allowing you to focus on your recovery. What’s more, is that it is permanent, this means once you have been underwritten you can make as many claims as you need to if you return to work and then become unwell again. The benefits are also tax free.

#don’tinvest.protectfirst.

 

Source: http://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/2015-04-17

 

Disclaimer: The information contained within this article are provided as illustrative purposes only based on legislation at the time of publication. Nothing in this article should be construed as advice or guidance to one’s personal situation. The value of your investments may go up and down, similarly, other aspects of your wider lifestyle and financial context may impact on your objective. In a nutshell, don’t rely on blogs and the articles for personal advice, and always seek advice from a qualified professional.

Got Post-Brexit Financial Panic?

4 tips to manage your finances in the wake of the EU referendum

If the recent results from the EU referendum have left you surprised, then it will only have been a matter of time until your mind turned to the financial implications. Leaving the EU is a political change that this country hasn’t experienced, meaning the impact upon our finances and economic future is unknown. It can be easy to think that there may be challenging times ahead as we move into a new era.

1. Panic stations.

With all this uncertainty, it’s easy to panic and start thinking about how secure your hard-earned cash may now be.  You may be worrying about secure your capital is or what your next move should be. Should you sell your house now? What will happen to the job market? Should you make changes or is it better to sit tight and wait for the banking world to respond?

Whilst concern is easily understood and in fact sensible, in actual fact overly worrying is what will contribute to any fluctuations in financial markets in the short term, rather than the EU exit itself. Rash decisions and panic buying or selling are more likely to bring about changes in the current financial market and this is what you need to consider.  

In order to put your mind at ease, we have 3 simple tips to help you think clearly and calmly and avoid that post-Brexit panic.

2. Don’t fall for the fall-out.

The best advice at this current moment is to simply take some time to think clearly about where your money is invested and why.

Assets you may have purchased or investments you may have made in the past were a good idea at the time but is this still the case? Do they still make sense to you? Do some research, think about your future and age and be prepared to be flexible in your approach.  Use this change in our political landscape as a chance to conduct a review of your finances in order to prepare for the future.

There should be no need to panic or make rash decisions though. According to financial experts, any major changes in markets due to Brexit will not surface for the next two years at least and the banking sector is actually in a more stable position than it has been since approximately 2007. Any changes to the house or job market are unknown at this stage and so far, are not indicating any major crash.

3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

All this being said, a review of where you have placed your funds is never a bad idea and the best move you can make at this point is to diversify your portfolio. This particularly the case if up until now, you have kept your finances in a singular point. Spreading capital across investments will minimise the risk of being severely affected by any future dip in the markets.

Varying the types of assets you have and the location of your investments is also the best chance of safeguarding your finance. If you are far off from retirement, your pension is unlikely to be majorly affected.  If you are approaching retirement or already retired, you may want to consider removing a sum or keeping invested. Whatever you decide, now is the time to seek pension advice and to review your situation.

4. Relax – but keep your adviser on his…or her toes

If you haven’t spoken to your financial adviser in some time, it may be worthwhile picking up the phone and requesting a commentary from the investment committee or fund manager of your investments and pensions to see how they had been preparing for Brexit and post-Brexit. You do this basically to keep your adviser on their toes,  not that they are not, but it’s good to make sure.

On the other hand it may be the right time to review your situation and whether market changes or even potential changes are likely to affect when you will retire and how you will access your pension. For instance, if you had been planning on purchasing a lifetime income, that is an annuity, with your pension fund, you may want to reconsider this due to the weakening of the pound.

 

Disclaimer: The information contained within this article are provided as illustrative purposes only based on legislation at the time of publication. Nothing in this article should be construed as advice or guidance to one’s personal situation. The value of your investments may go up and down, similarly other aspects of your wider lifestyle and financial context may impact on your objective. In a nutshell, don’t rely on blogs and the articles for personal advice, and always seek advice from a qualified professional.