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New year, new finances

If you find yourself sitting back and thinking ‘HOW much did I spend in 2017?!’, then it’s time to start 2018 with a plan to refresh your finances.
 
There are two sides to doing that. First, boosting the money that comes in. Second, managing the money that goes out. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your money this coming year.
 

  1. Savings boost

You worked hard for your savings – now let’s put them to work for you. In recent years, interest rates have been disappointing for savers. But that makes it more important than ever to shop around for the best rates. Rather than sticking with the bank account that you’ve had since you were 20-something, shop around. You may be able to get a better deal by moving your money.

Consumer champions Which? put together some great resources to help you get the best deal. Head to this link and you can compare different options, including both instant access accounts and fixed rate accounts. Aside from interest rates, they also rank things like customer service, so you can see which bank suits you best.

  1. Unclaimed pensions

In 2016, the goverment announced that there was an estimated £400 million languishing unloved in unclaimed pension schemes across the country.* If you’ve lost track of a pension then some of this money could be yours. There’s no harm in checking.

In the past, many people who worked in a firm with a good pension scheme did not even know they were in it. So, when they left they did not enquire about their right to take it then or draw a pension later. Others may have paid into a personal pension for a short while but then lost track of it. The Government’s Pension Tracing Service can help. It is a simple online interface, or you can call 0800 731 0193. Start at www.gov.uk/find-pension-contact-details

  1. Repaying debt

If there’s one thing that can really drag your monthly finances down, then debt is it. From taking much needed money every month to causing sleepless nights, it can be a big burden. So it follows that repaying existing debt is a great way to improve your financial footing.

For homeowners aged between 55 and 95, one option to repay this existing debt could be equity release. Equity release allows you to release a cash lump sum from your home and, unlike existing debt you don’t typically need to make monthly payments. With a lifetime mortgage, the most popular form of equity release, the loan, plus roll up interest, is repaid when your plan comes to an end. Alternatives may include downsizing or asking friends and family for help. You could also consider using savings first.

Equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits. The most common type of equity release is a lifetime mortgage, which is a loan secured against your home. You should always think carefully before securing a loan against your home.

Find out more about equity release

If you're interested in finding out whether equity release could help you, our free guide has all the facts.

Get your guide

 

  1. Sticking to a budget

There’s nothing easier than starting a budget. You make a note of your expenses, decide some spending limits for different types of expense and then… for many people it all just fizzles out. So sticking to a budget might be slightly tougher – but if you can find a method that works for you, it’s certainly worth doing.

Take a look at our budget planning article for more information - we've outlined the steps to take for making a budget that you’ll actually want to follow (even after the novelty wears off).
 
 
So there we are. A four point action plan to spruce up your finances. Just the job for those long winter evenings - and a well-paid job at that.


*https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-pension-tracing-service-website-launched

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