Putting things off until another day is easy, but where money is concerned it can be a huge mistake to avoid sorting out your finances. Here are five tips to help you stay on top.
Nobody means to leave things until the last minute. It just happens. Other issues crop up. Then, before you know it, a statement deadline has passed. You might miss an introductory interest rate offer or, worse still, you default on a payment.
Some things have more impact than others. So having a checklist of financial items you need to monitor makes sense. It will help you get the best from your money and hopefully stop you from losing track of the things that matter – and could cost you vital funds!
1 – Monitor spending patterns
The easiest way to maintain a good overview of income and expenditure is to check your statements. That means bank accounts, credit cards and any other financial arrangements that have to be paid each month.
This sounds so easy, but a paper statement is easily tossed aside and lost in a pile of junk mail, take-away flyers and holiday brochures. Kill two birds with one stone and go paperless. Save the environment and set alerts with online banking.
With a few technical tweaks, you can receive alerts, emails or texts when accounts reach certain thresholds, when money has been paid in, or when key bills need to be paid. You could even synchronise the updates with your smart phone’s calendar.
The result: you stay fully informed about your current financial position. It means you’ll keep out of that overdraft, avoid late payment fees, and even know what’s regularly left over so you can consider savings and investments.
2 – Maximise mortgage offers
Just like bank statements, take a regular look at your mortgage payments. In particular, keep an eye on key dates for renewals.
If you have secured a three, five or even ten-year fixed interest deal, always be aware of the end date. You can then assess the market rates and be ready to switch if a better deal exists.
Why waste money each month just because you leave an agreement running beyond its original term? Market conditions fluctuate, so there will be occasions when different types of deals will suit you or your business.
Mortgages are a complex area, and sometimes it really does pay to take independent financial advice to secure the best deal for you.
3 – Don’t accept renewals by default
We all do it. There’s a great deal on car, house or life insurance so we snap up the introductory offer. Then things happen. We get older. Personal circumstances change.
Suddenly, what was the best deal in town is no longer the cheapest or most appropriate. The introductory period or first year of payments ends and you receive a letter through the post, sometimes an email.
As if by magic you have been rolled onto a new deal but on slightly different terms. Guess what? You’re probably paying more.
For the sake of a diary reminder, a little market research on the Internet and a phone call, you could save hundreds of pounds each year. That either makes the monthly budget easier, or you have surplus income to direct into savings accounts or your pension.
4 – The “R” word and pensions
Pensions and retirement are for old people, right? Wrong. They are for everyone. Assessing whether the time is right, if you are saving enough and whether your pension fund is being managed properly should be on your annual checklist.
Too many people enjoy their 20s and 30s, travelling, buying new cars and generally having a great time. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, it doesn’t help your pension fund if little or nothing is being saved each month.
It’s all linked to budgeting. Work out what you can afford to contribute from your salary, check what your employer is prepared to contribute in addition to any regulatory minimums, and start as early as possible.
Also, seek professional independent advice about retirement. There is no one-cap-fits-all solution. We’re all different. We all have unique goals and objectives in life.
Depending where you are in terms of life, career, family and a retirement dream, get that all-important advice to help you make the best possible financial choices.
5 – Helping your family
And finally, although it’s something few want to think about, making a will is important. None of us can accurately plan for every eventuality, so it makes sense to document what you’d like to happen with your estate, wealth and assets when you die.
For starters, this will prevent heartache and worry for your family. It will also help to safeguard family finances. You will enjoy peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be followed, and that your family will be provided for.
Stay on top
It’s important to stay focused and disciplined and there is no reason to lose track of your financial position. Crucially, knowing where you stand with money means that you can plan ahead. You can track patterns and begin to save – especially when you fully understand your life and retirement goals.
If you need help building up a picture of your financial position, or some assistance planning how to achieve certain targets, Logic Wealth Planning is here to help.
Whether that’s savings, investments, mortgages, business finance, pensions and retirement planning, we offer independent advice and what we like to call wise words about money.
Get in touch on 0808 1234 321 or email email@example.com and we’ll arrange a no-obligation informal meeting.