For some 2017 will have been a good year of positive change and development and for others, it may have been a tough one, with challenges in either your business or personal life that have perhaps prompted detailed consideration into both your current and future financial situation.
With the biggest spending season of the year in full swing, the festive break can provide time of reflection on those personal financial targets. All the more reason to consider a financial plan for the year ahead, which will provide peace of mind that whatever is around the corner, you have adequate resources set aside to manage.
A comprehensive financial plan along with the support of an experienced financial adviser, can be compared to eating your five a day and having a gym session with a personal trainer. You know it will make a difference, and the benefits soon shine through once you commit to the new routine.
So when the parties and festivities have been and gone and you have some quiet time to consider your plans for next year and beyond, incorporate you and your family’s needs and objectives, and ascertain where you are now, where you want to be and when and how you are going to get there.
Your goals can then be categorised by timeframe and priority. Studies show that people who put their goals on paper are more likely to reach them. It is important to be realistic and find a balance between expected future lifestyle and the required level of saving.
- Take time to look at your income and outgoings in more detail to establish how much you can afford to save on a regular basis. Lump sum savings are a good way of planning for your future but by saving regularly you get into the habit of putting money away. In addition, investing your savings in the stock market on a regular basis carries the advantage of reducing potential volatility through pound cost averaging, where you invest when markets are both high and low.
- Think about where your savings should be held. For example, a cash-based savings account or cash ISA (individual savings account) might be the best home for savings for a short-term goal. A diversified portfolio of investments should be considered for a long-term goal as you have time to ride out the peaks and troughs of the market and inflation-proof your savings.
- Whether it be an employer’s pension scheme, available annual tax reliefs, allowances and exemptions, or investing in your own potential, it is important to recognise where you can add value to your plan. The current freedoms available within pension planning will provide opportunities for many, but getting independent advice is key.
- Review your plan on a regular basis, this will help keep you focused on your goals. Reviewing your plan regularly will also increase the likelihood of you achieving your goals as you will be able to make small adjustments to allow for changes in circumstances or legislation. Rebalancing your portfolio every year is crucial to maximising returns and minimising volatility.
- Have the confidence to persevere with your plan, even in hard economic times. Sometimes the biggest risk to achieving your financial goals is deflecting from your plan due to external influences.
- Consider protecting your family. If a life event occurs which will have an impact on your ability to achieve your financial goals, it is important to have insurance in place so that your overall plan is not too far removed from the original.
- Your plan is yours and no one else’s. A financial planner can help you to determine the amount you need to save each month and help set aside sufficient funds should the unexpected happen. They can also help determine your tolerance for risk and map out a comprehensive plan that will help you achieve your financial goals.