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3 Steps To Better Financial Management

We are not aware of any statistics that show January to be a month where more of us become seriously ill, die, retire, become incredibly wealthy from stock market gains or destitute from rising interest rates, but it is the time that we are asked more than any other to carry out a review of people’s finances.

We don’t mind, as it is better to irrationally check that things are in place as they should be rather than waiting for circumstance to reveal that they are not.

No-one’s finances are the same. We all have the basic problem of dying too soon or living too long, with any number of variations along the way, but keeping our finances in order comes down to a basic principle – we are unable to spend what we haven’t got for any consistent length of time. We need to sort out in our own minds where our priorities lie, and set aside enough cash each month to deal with these. If your priorities truly lie in smoking, drinking, holidaying exotically or serial furnishing, that’s fine. But don’t complain when you can’t do these things if you become seriously ill, are left bereaved or retire with insufficient funds.

STEP 1 To better Financial Management

The first rule is to keep as much of your money to yourselves as possible and not to line the pockets of large organisations needlessly. Therefore, check that your mortgage payments are not excessive. Lenders rely on borrowers’ inertia to grow their profits. They really don’t care about you as an individual so don’t display undeserved loyalty to them in return. If Christmas has taken its toll on your credit cards, is there a way of paying less interest by rolling up credit card debt through a remortgage or further advance? If you do, be careful not to run up massive debts again on your cards or you get yourself no further forward. If you would simply like to check whether your deal is competitive in the first place, give us a ring. If we can help, we will.

There have been an alarming number of people who have extended their home loans significantly over the past few years of cheap money on an interest only basis, yet have not increased their life cover accordingly. This has also been a pattern with the buy to let boom, with many “landlords" taking the view that their dependents can sell the property if anything happens to them. A simple inexpensive life policy can give them the choice, because they might want to keep the income flowing and should comfortably be funded by the rent that tenants are paying. Too many people place more importance upon insuring their contents rather than themselves. If you have let your life cover become unbalanced in comparison to what you owe, call us and we can help to put things right.

STEP 2 To better Financial Management

Thankfully, most of us go through life without calling upon these insurances, so keep your spending on them in perspective. But don’t underestimate how much you need to save for later years. Check that the pension plan or plans that you have now do not belong to that ever growing list headed “useless". Moving from poor plans into good ones can be strangely liberating, but you need to know how yours matches up in the first place. It’s difficult to move forward without knowing first where you are. Are you still Contracted Out of SERPS (or the Second State Pension as it is now known)? If yes, should you be? A number of insurance companies have begun to move their customers back in to the state system again by default. But what of the money that is already in contracted out funds? This won’t be moved, so make sure that it is doing the best it possibly can for you. Many thousands of pounds could be going to waste simply because people do not check whether they can improve things by switching. Ask us if you’d like to check how yours are doing?

Are you paying more in charges than you should be? If you are not in a Stakeholder Plan, it is quite possible that you are. Ask us if you’d like help in finding out.

Do you want to take control of your own retirement planning rather than leave it to the insurance industry which, quite frankly, has made a bit of a pig’s ear of things so far? If the answer is “yes", ask us about the possibility of a self invested pension plan (SIPP). Recent headlines have made much of the fact that they will not be able to hold property in them after all. This does nothing to lessen their attraction as a means of creating the best return for your funds through establishing who you want to invest your retirement money for you. We’d be happy to tell you more.

Major changes in how pensions are run are under way for April this year. At long last, it appears that the Nation is waking up to the fact that it is simply not saving enough for its future. Having money in bricks and mortar is all well and good, but how risky may it be to keep too many retirement eggs in the one basket? Even if you have been turned off pensions in the past, make the most of what you have already accumulated.

STEP 3 To better Financial Management

This applies to your investments too. It is frustrating to see so many funds in PEPs, ISAs and other investments needlessly treading water when a simple reorganisation can get returns moving again. Again, the principle of making the best of what you have is fundamental. If you have an ISA for example, when did you last check how it was performing in comparison to others on the market. Most ISA providers won’t penalise you for moving your money, so if it is failing you, transfer it. Fund managers think nothing about joining other companies. We should think nothing of it either.

It really does make a difference where your investments are held and you owe it to yourself to take time out to check that yours are doing as well as they could. We would be happy to help you do so.

STEP 4 To better Financial Management

We are here to offer advice on all aspects of your financial planning. But we can not help unless we know of your concerns. Take a few minutes to create a financial “To Do" List.

Submitted by:

John Kelly

John Kelly makes it easy to understand financial matters, as well as being a well established Independent Financial Advisor, John gives practical advice on personal and business finances as well as taking a keen interest in Inheritance Tax Planning, find out more at http://www.squareonefinancial.co.uk/inheritancetax.html




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