THERE’S now less than a week to go until the London 2012 Summer Olympics gets under way.
As world-class athletes gear up to put everything they have been preparing for over the last few years into action, we decided to look at how to get your finances into good shape.
David Gow, a chartered and certified financial planner at Acumen Financial Planning in Edinburgh, shares his top ten tips on toning your money muscles.
1 TREAT CURRENT INJURIES
Address any unsecured debts that need paying off and work out which ones to pay off first. Start with the most expensive, but most importantly, calculate and take a note of when you will finally pay a debt off. Don’t let the finish line out of your sight!
2 HAVE THE RIGHT MINDSET
Live below your means. In other words, spend less than you earn. A good formula is to allocate 70 per cent of your salary to living costs. Then repay debts with 20 per cent and save the remaining 10 per cent. The older you get, the more you should think about increasing the savings percentage if you can.
3 BE PREPARED
Build a pot of cash that you can call on in an emergency – like a failed MOT or your boiler breaking down. A cash stash equal to three to six months of your usual expenditure is a good amount to have in an instant access account.
4 GET LEAN
Can you save on tax? Make sure you’re using all available allowances and reliefs. A good tax adviser will be able to ascertain if there are ways you can save. Can you save money by remortgaging your home? When seeking advice, go for an adviser who is able to look at the whole of the market to find the best deal for you.
5 HIRE A PERSONAL TRAINER
If you can’t find time to review your financial situation, set up an initial, no-obligation meeting with a highly qualified independent financial planner or IFA who will be able to help you get your finances on the right track.
6 START TRAINING NOW
Sign up for a tax-free individual savings account (Isa) or a high interest savings account and transfer over any cash sitting in your low interest current account that you’re unlikely to use in the near future. Then think about your saving and investment strategy. The quicker you start, the quicker you will prosper. Take two 22-year-olds, Euan and Jemma. Euan saves £2,000 a year for six years (a total of £12,000) then contributes nothing until age 65. Jemma doesn’t save anything for six years then saves £2,000 a year for the next 37 years (total £74,000). An extreme case, but let’s say they both receive an annual return of 12 per cent. They would both end up with £1.2 million.
7 KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Decide what type of investor you want to be with respect to investment appetite. If you’re like most people, you will probably want to skip high-risk stock-picking and put your money in low-cost index funds. Create a diversified portfolio, with longer-term savings in more aggressive investments and shorter-term savings in safer spots, such as gilts and corporate bond funds.
8 FOCUS ON YOUR POTENTIAL
List your lifetime objectives. What kind of house do you want to live in? Where do you want to live? How much do you need to earn to live there? When do you want to be financially independent? How much do you need for financial independence? Figure out what you really want out of life; you become what you think about.
9 ELIMINATE THREATS TO SUCCESS
List the threats to you achieving your lifetime goals and address how to minimise or eradicate these, perhaps by way of an insurance policy. Threats include illness or incapacity, unemployment and not putting enough money away for the future.
10 GET READY TO PASS ON THE BATON
Calculate the inheritance tax bill your heirs would be left with should you pass away and come up with solutions, as long as this doesn’t affect your other objectives.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West