Diane Watson has 27 years’ experience in the financial planning and advisory sector and after becoming one of a handful of female UK Principal Partners at St. James Place Wealth Management, thought it was time she shared her knowledge and insight with women of all ages to help them to become engaged with their own financial and general wellbeing. With this she launched She Can Prosper.
2020 - It isn't over yet!
Describing this first half of the year as tough would be a serious understatement. Yet, just because it has been a tough start doesn’t mean it needs to end that way. A lot has been learnt this year and there is still time to turn this year around. Instead of writing this year off, we should be writing this year down. Documenting it, learning from it, recognising the unique opportunity it has handed us all to grow and change the course.
The remainder of the year can be used as a chance to improve your financial position and work towards future goals.
Due to lockdown, many of you have been able to cut back on costs from travel, lunches or the never-ending supply of Starbuck’s caramel macchiatos.
Research has shown that the average UK worker spends more than £2,000 a year on lunch and snacks and they typically spend £3.69 on lunch. This bad spending habit disappeared due to lockdown and everyone discovered they were Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen. For the remainder of the year people should maintain this saving mindset, and when and if they return to the office environment, not fall back into bad spending habits.
To help continue this new savvy lifestyle, it would be beneficial to conduct a full analysis of expenditure. Look through your spending habits and current direct debits and determine which expenses are necessary and which you can live without.
Can you work more flexibly to reduce travel expenditures?
Have you preferred running compared to the gym and can cancel expensive memberships?
Are you subscribed to multiple streaming services; do you need them all?
Simple changes can have significant impacts.
Once you have decided which expenses can be removed, you need to re-direct them to a purposeful objective and not substitute one bad habit for another. Don’t swap your coffee habit for an Amazon Prime addiction, put the money aside, whether it’s to simply save for a rainy day or a dedicated investment, make sure not to lose the money you’re saving.
A lot of people’s large expenses like holidays have also been put on hold this year. According to research conducted by YouGov, two-thirds of Britons are not planning on traveling abroad for the remainder of the year. The average British person goes on holiday twice a year, at a cost of £885 each time. Either save the money for a future adventure or put it towards a large investment like a car or house.
Big Picture Thinking
Use this downtime as an opportunity to look into the bigger picture of what you want to achieve. Saving for a house or retiring early doesn’t just happen overnight, they are goals that take a long time to achieve. To do so, you need to develop a personal finance plan, where you become informed around your current financial position, then move onto setting objectives for the future. You will establish how much you need to save, how long it will take and a plan of action.
For those looking to get on the property ladder or potentially up-sizing, now is the perfect time to start looking. The economic downturn has led to a fall in house prices, which as per the latest report by Nationwide, fell 1.4% in June. Alongside this, stamp duty has been removed on properties up to the value of £500,000 until March 2021.
Both of these have relieved some of the financial costs associated with buying a new property, so if you were debating buying a house it would be worth putting together a financial plan to see if you can achieve this whilst the barriers are lower to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Now that you have redecorated your entire house to look like the inside of an IKEA catalogue, it is time to finally stop procrastinating and organise all those life admin tasks that never get completed. This could be things like consolidating all your pension pots or credit cards, assessing your insurances, or creating and updating your will.
Yes, they may not be the most exciting of tasks, but leaving them could leave you in a more vulnerable situation.
Making the most of these next 6 months can help end this year on a positive note and bring you one step closer to achieving your life plans.