Archive for October, 2014

How To Build A Nest Egg For Your Child’s Future

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Whatever your child wants to do when they’re older, preparing a nest egg for them can be a great help when the time comes for them to spread their wings and fly the nest. As an added bonus, showing your child how to manage the family finances in order to create personal wealth can be a valuable lesson in itself.

Start by making a financial plan

Securing your child’s future is so important that even the busiest people should strongly consider making time to get some high-quality financial advice from a professional financial adviser. There are many steps between birth and young adulthood and a number of decisions for parents to take along the way. In particular parents need to think about the benefits of spending money during their child’s younger years as opposed to investing it for their later ones.

Remember that time can turn pennies into pounds

Even if you can only put aside small amounts each month, it’s still worth doing so. Time will help those pennies grow into pounds. With this in mind, the earlier you start saving for your child, the longer time will have to work its magic. If, however, your child is already well on their way to growing up, then it’s still worth putting aside whatever you can for their future needs. Put quite simply, whatever savings and investments you can build for them, it’s going to be better than nothing.

Invest as much as you can afford

Roughly speaking most children will follow a similar path from birth to the end of compulsory education. During this period the key financial question is often whether a child will attend a private school or a state school. In either case the time the need to complete their core education is essentially the same. After core education is finished young people can choose to follow different paths depending on their interests and talents. These paths can broadly be defined as further education, professional training, employment or a gap year. Each of these paths has different financial implications. It’s worth considering, therefore, having as much money as possible available for them. Even if it is not needed, it may make a significant difference to their start in adult life. For example young people who find jobs may be able to get to them by public transport, but having their own transport can make life much easier.

Aim to invest regularly

Even when money is tight, try to look on investing for your child’s future as an integral part of managing the family finances. This may mean taking the decision to tighten other areas of spending in order to be able to plan ahead. Of course, it’s fine to top it up with extra funds from time to time. For example, family and friends could be encouraged to make donations at Christmas and birthdays instead of spending their full budget on presents. These should, however, ideally be extra funds rather than the bulk of them. Having said that, as always, even if you can only afford to set money aside from time to time, it’s still better than nothing.

Look out for the tax man

Children get the same personal income tax allowance as all people born after 5th April 1948. Under certain circumstances children can receive income from children’s savings accounts (which are different to Junior ISAs) without paying any tax on the interest. For this to happen, their parents need to fill in an R85 form. Junior ISAs, meanwhile, work in much the same way as their adult counterparts. It should however be noted that as soon as the child reaches 18, the full ISA will immediately become their legal property to use as they wish. Parents with concerns about how their child will react when suddenly handed a large sum of money may need to look for other ways to prepare for their future. This may be a good time to get some unbiased financial advice from a professional financial adviser.


Stay On Top Of Your Money In Just A Few Minutes Everyday

Friday, October 24th, 2014

blog-1-1-2For people who lead busy lives, managing the family finances may be just one of many important jobs to do. Fortunately taking care of your personal wealth can take less time than you might think. Here’s a quick guide to what you need to do and how often.

Once a year – review your goals and your progress towards them

All of your financial decisions should help to bring you closer to your financial goals. In order for this to happen, you need to be clear about what they are. Like many aspects of life, financial goals can change through time. For young adults their major goal may be to buy a house, whereas for older adults it may be investing strategically to finance a comfortable retirement. In between there may well be children to raise and provide for. This annual review can also be a good time to get some unbiased financial advice from a professional financial adviser.

Once a quarter – make sure everyone is on the same page financially

In households where more than one person is financially responsible it’s important to make sure that the people in question stay on the same financial page. In an ideal world, people would take all financial decisions together. In the real world however, time pressures can make this impractical. Sometimes families need to divide financial tasks. This may be done equally or with one person taking most of the day-to-day responsibilities. In this situation people can drift apart, financially speaking, which can lead to problems later down the line. To prevent this from happening it’s important that all the people concerned have regular catch-ups.

Once a month – go over all financial statements from that month

Financial statements give you the reality of your financial situation. If you’ve kept on top of your finances then you’ll already have a pretty good idea of what they ought to say. You should, however, check them thoroughly to make sure of this. In particular take the time to investigate any transactions on your debit or credit card that you don’t immediately recognise. They may just be something you’d forgotten, but they may also be a sign that fraudsters are testing your card. This is also a good time to look out for any recurring transactions and decide if there are savings to be made. For example if you see three months’ worth of gym fees on your card but you’ve only managed to find the time to go a couple of times then is it really worth the cost? Finally, take a good look over your shopping receipts for the last month and see if there are any unnecessary expenses you could trim.

Once a week – tidy up your financial paperwork

These days paperwork is as likely to mean digital records as it is actual paper ones, but in either case financial records can only be any use if you can actually find them. Decide whether you are going to use paper records, digital records or both. Whichever you choose take some time out once a week to decide what you need to keep and what you don’t. Anything you keep needs to be stored in a safe place and organised in a methodical way. While you can use your own preferred system remember that if anything happens to you, even temporarily, someone else may need to take over. Anything you don’t keep needs to be checked for personal details and if necessary shredded before being recycled.

Once a day – keep track of your spending

It’s generally easier to see an elephant than a mouse. Similarly it’s often easier to remember big purchases like a weekly grocery shop than it is to remember all the little items. Fortunately smartphones and their cameras have made it much easier to stay on top of daily spending. Implement a straightforward rule that each and every purchase needs to be tracked. If you are given a receipt, photograph it. If you don’t get a receipt, photograph the item itself. At the end of each day, store these photos in a safe place to be reviewed later.

How To Be A Happy Working Parent

Friday, October 17th, 2014

working parent blog imageParents are the people who have photos in their wallets instead of cash. It’s an old joke but it often still gets at least a wry smile. No matter how much dads (and mums) might like the idea of being full-time parents, the reality is that bills still need to be paid and for most people that means at least one parent working. Fortunately there are ways to make this a generally happy experience.

Assess your employer

Beer and pizza on Fridays and a company games console may seem like great perks before you have children but after you have them childcare vouchers and company discounts at useful shops may seem more appealing. It may be that your employer does actually offer family-friendly benefits and you just never noticed them in your pre-child days. If they don’t then you could try having a conversation with your manager or HR to see if there is any appetite to introduce them. If there isn’t then there may be nothing to stop you looking for another employer who is better able to accommodate your family commitments.

Get on top of your finances

The arrival of a demanding newborn can overwhelm everything else in your life, but part of keeping that little baby happy, healthy, and safe is making sure that their financial needs are met for at least the next 16 years. If they go on to further education, then you can add another 5 or 6 years on to that.

Remember that not everything needs to be new

Making savings wherever you reasonably can reduces the demands on your income which may, in turn, give you greater flexibility in terms of your employment choices. While newspapers, magazines, the radio and the TV may all carry adverts aimed at convincing you that your baby needs the brand new product they are selling, it’s worth remembering that new items come at a premium because they are new. In some cases this may be justified. For example parents may feel much more comfortable knowing that safety equipment is brand new (and possibly under guarantee). In other cases, however, second hand may be just fine, particularly in the very early days when babies are growing at an incredible rate. Likewise opting for reusable items rather than disposable ones (nappies for example) can also help to save pennies and ultimately pounds. These savings can then be channelled into other activities such as investing for your child’s future or enjoying quality time with them in the present.

Keep on networking

Young children make huge demands on time as well as on money and it can be very easy to slip into the habit of working to pay the bills and then going home to be with the new family. While watching them grow up is one of the joys of parenthood, it’s worth remembering how much value there is in human networks, both professional and social. Take time to ensure that you still stay connected both to your friends and to your colleagues and wider professional circle. Even if you can’t get out to meet them in person as much as you’d like, or even not at all in the short term, make time to get online and catch up with people in cyberspace.

How To Turn Money Into Happiness

Friday, October 10th, 2014

As the Beatles pointed out in their 1964 hit “Can’t buy me love”, there are some things money can’t buy, at least not directly. Money can, however, influence happiness – if used wisely. Here are some tips on how using your personal wealth wisely can help to make you happier.


Money can’t buy good health, but it can be used in a variety of ways to maintain it or improve it. At a fundamental level, money can buy a good diet full of healthy, fresh foods. It can also buy exercise equipment. Being able to manage the family finances so that there is money available for day-to-day bills and savings available to cope with unexpected events can also save a lot of stress, which could arguably come under the heading of a health benefit. Money can assist with quality health-care. It can provide the option to pay for quick access to private treatment rather than having to queue on an NHS waiting list. It can also help ease any convalescence period by providing funds to pay for helpful equipment (such as mobility scooters) or personal assistance.

Education and development – investing in yourself

Money can buy you opportunities and experiences which can enhance your professional options. While employers will pay for mandatory training and may assist with training which has a clear relevance to your current career path, quite simply the more money you have at your disposal, the wider your range of options. You can choose to undertake personal study to further your goals or you can choose to do something else completely. Perhaps you might like to have the security of knowing that you have an alternative means of earning an income if you find yourself between jobs in your main career. Perhaps you have dreams of turning a hobby into a business. Perhaps you just want to do something different. In any case, having money can make this possible.

Getting the right advice and skills

money to happinessMoney can buy other people’s time, knowledge, and expertise to make your life easier. Whether it’s getting someone in to clean the house and mow the lawn instead of doing it yourself, or going to a professional adviser for financial advice, spending money on getting the right people with the right skills can save you time and hassle. That frees up time and energy for other activities, which can bring you a whole lot more happiness. Instead of washing the dishes, use money to buy a dishwasher and spend some extra time doing something you enjoy. Instead of spending all day in the garden doing basic tasks like mowing and weeding, get someone else to do them and focus on the tasks you actually enjoy. Instead of spending time and effort to try to work out the best way to manage your money on your own, get help from a professional adviser who can provide financial advice and take some time out with your friends.

Staying in touch

No amount of money can replace the people we love. Money can, however, make it much easier to enjoy their company. To begin with money can pay for useful communication equipment to keep in touch with people when it’s impractical to go and see them. Money can make the difference between having a basic phone or even smartphone and one which can handle videocalls comfortably. It can allow people to upgrade from basic TVs to smart TVs with internet access so that people can enjoy quality video calling on a large screen. It can also make it easier to go and visit people face-to-face to let them know how much you value them and their company.

4 Simple Steps to Make Better Financial Decisions Today

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

4 Simple Steps Blog ImageLife is full of decisions. Some are simple and some are complex. Some are more important than others. Financial decisions have a direct impact on your quality of life. It therefore pays to get them right in every sense of the phrase.

Here are 4 tips you can use to improve your financial decision-making. Starting today.

Think about who you are and what your goals are

It may be a cliché to say that everyone’s an individual, but it’s also true and this individuality is reflected in the decisions we take. As well as preferences based on our personality, age also plays a role in our financial decision-making. As children our goal may simply be to save up enough money to afford a special toy. As young adults we our immediate goal may be a deposit on a flat. As we grow into maturity, caring for children and planning for retirement may become more important priorities. In order to make effective decisions, financial or otherwise, we need to understand what our aims are and whether they are short, medium or long-term goals.

Don’t sweat the small stuff – but don’t ignore it either

On the one hand, the old saying “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” has stood the test of time because it makes a fair point. Small costs here and there can slip by unnoticed until they turn into a surprisingly large amount. On the other hand, many people lead busy lives and would find it a huge challenge to keep track of every penny they spend and on what, let alone take the time to analyse whether each and every individual purchase was the best possible deal. This is where a little common-sense can go a long way.

You don’t need to do your shopping at 4 different supermarkets to get the absolute best price on everything. It can, however, help to keep tabs on your day-to-day spending and think about where you could trim fat without too much inconvenience. For example, the savings you can make by taking a refillable bottle of water on the train to work as opposed to buying a bottle of water at the station can soon mount up and give a pleasant boost to the family finance.

Your personal wealth is your responsibility

Once you are an adult then you are responsible for your own health, wealth and happiness. This may seem like an intimidating prospect, but it can help to break it down into manageable chunks. You can create a budget so that you have more money than month. You can make notes of when financial purchases are due for renewal (anything from mobile contracts to insurance to mortgage deals ending) and find the time to look for the best deals; at least for the significant purchases. You can plan to ensure that there are funds in place to meet medium to long-term needs, whether it’s replacing big-ticket household items or funding a pleasant retirement.

Getting the right financial advice can more than pay for itself

Just because something is your responsibility, it doesn’t mean that you have to do everything single-handedly. Looking through the financial sections of the press can be a confusing and even intimidating experience for some people. Mortgage approvals, interest rates, market developments, mergers and acquisitions… -it can be a challenge to make sense of what it all actually means. Then of course there are conversations with family, friends and colleagues, some of whom may have their own advice to offer. It may be well intentioned but there’s no guarantee that it’s right for your situation. Fortunately a professional financial adviser can help cut through the headlines and jargon and tips from friends and help you to build your own plan for investing in your future. This advice can be, literally, invaluable.

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