With recent reports from the Autumn Statement suggesting most of the UK economic indicators are moving in the right direction, it doesn’t mean we can suddenly afford to ignore our personal financial planning.
So in the best traditions of New Year here are ten financial planning resolutions that will hopefully help make 2015 a prosperous and secure year for you.
- I will save some money on a regular basis. It might be your daughter getting married, it might be one or more of your children going to university – or it might be a more sombre reason. But at some stage in all our lives we are going to need savings to fall back on: so make a resolution to save on a regular basis in the New Year. Better to save first and spend what you have left than spend first and then save – because as we all know, there probably won’t be anything left!
- I will admit I’m going to get old. We don’t just mean feeling old after one Xmas party too many – we mean you should make 2015 the year when you have a thorough review of your pension planning. Taking some action now could well save you a lot of heartache later on. The message from the Government (and any subsequent Government) will be simple: if you want a prosperous retirement it’ll be up to you to provide it.
- I will check what I’m paying on my mortgage. Interest rates have been very low for some time now, so review your mortgage to make sure that it’s competitive and that you’re paying as little as possible.
- I will review my life cover and protection policies. It’s always worth keeping these policies under review, both to make sure that you have adequate cover and to make sure that you are still paying a competitive rate for the cover you have in place. The cost of protection can and does fluctuate and as with your mortgage, it will cost you nothing to ask us to review the arrangements you have in place.
- I won’t pay the taxman more than I need to. Couldn’t we all agree with this one? If you’re saving on a regular basis make sure you use your NISA allowances and look at the tax efficient ways in which a pension can be used. Far too many of us are inadvertently paying tax that we simply don’t need to.
- I will use all my tax allowances. Even sophisticated investors often forget to make use of allowances such as the annual Capital Gains Tax allowance (don’t forget that a married couple can both use the individual CGT allowance). And Inheritance Tax is another area where a small amount of planning can pay significant dividends.
- I won’t forget about my investments. How often do we see new clients with a portfolio of investments that hasn’t been looked at for years? If you do have investments, make sure you keep them under regular review.
- I won’t obsess about my investments. The other side of the coin – the investor who is constantly tinkering with his investments, so that whatever gains he might have made are wiped out by dealing costs. Remember that investments are for the long term: they need to be regularly reviewed – as we do with all our clients’ portfolios – but as the old wealth warning reminds us, they can and do fluctuate in value.
- I won’t get sentimental. We’re not talking about your personal relationships here, but about investments you might have held for a long time. One of the best things a regular review from your professional adviser does is highlight areas of your portfolio which are underperforming. And irrespective of how much money a particular holding might have made you ten years ago, if it is underperforming now it may well need to be changed.
- I will keep in touch with my professional advisers on a regular basis. Everyone’s personal circumstances change, and their financial planning needs change accordingly. That’s why we’re so keen on regular reviews and regular meetings and, as all our clients know, we’re always available should you have any questions.