Financial Planning is for life, not just for Christmas – Part 1

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The nights are drawing in, and Christmas is just around the corner. The shops are getting busier and if you’re organised, perhaps you have even finished your Christmas shopping. For some, though, Christmas is the season where they buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money. But with a bit of planning it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you’re feeling the financial strain of the season, then financial planning is something you should consider, and what better time to start than today. You can always become more financially literate and start benefitting from the value of financial planning.

Everyone knows that Christmas comes once a year and therefore it makes sense to plan for it in advance to save yourself financial stress, there are many other life events that you know will come around one day, but require a plan to get there. Perhaps the most significant life event when it comes to financial planning is retirement: understanding when you can afford to retire, how much you will need, and what goals you wish to accomplish both before and after you stop working.

Financial planning deals with everything that’s important in your financial life, from ensuring you can afford to do things that really matter both now and for the foreseeable future, to ensuring your family will manage without your income if you were to fall ill or die, or structuring your finances well so you can leave a legacy. It is an ongoing process to help you make sensible decisions about money that can help you achieve your goals in life.  Considering all these different aspects can result in some complex calculations but getting started doesn’t have to be difficult. Integral to all financial planning is having a plan written down on paper (or a handy computer sheet). For some, writing down a financial plan may be seen as a chore, or simply too difficult because the future is unknown. It’s true that life can be unpredictable and real life can complicate even the best made plans, but without even a basic plan there is a danger you could  end up just financially drifting, simply hoping for the best.

Here are some ideas to hopefully inspire you to begin some financial planning:

  • Making a start, whatever your age or stage in life – lives can change very quickly and you’ll be grateful to have some cash in the bank when you need it. Ask yourself how long would your lifestyle last if you lost your income? Would you have enough to cope with an emergency?
  • The state won’t provide – People tend to believe, wrongly, that the state will provide for them. As our population continues to age, there will be fewer people available to pay for retirement benefits, so state handouts will grow ever smaller.
  • Debt is robbing from your future – If you have debt, then it is both impacting your financial health now and is stopping you from saving for your future. Make a plan to pay it off as quickly as you can.
  • How much money do I need to retire? – Obviously this depends on your expectations in retirement. You need to think about your likely expenditure requirements on a month by month basis. You then should factor in additional capital needs, e.g. home repairs, change the car and other unforeseen emergencies. Then you need to consider where this income will come from.

When looking into these questions, many discover their financial planning needs are more complex than they initially thought, and begin considering using the services of a professional adviser, to help them achieve the best outcome. And remember, Financial Planning is for Life, not just for Christmas!

*The value of investments and the income derived from them can fall as well as rise. You may not get back what you invest.