March is a great time to get your house in order and this can include giving your home a spring clean and your finances too.
No one actually knows where the term ‘Spring Cleaning’ comes from but there are a number of theories. It is a more popular term in colder countries when the change in the weather encourages a through cleaning of the house. However, often financial planning can be overlooked and we thought it would be useful to run through some of the things we feel should be reviewed at least on an annual basis.
Check your incomings and outgoings
Print off the last three months bank statements and double check that everything that is going out should be. We make a lot of automated payments these days and every now and then there will be payments coming out of your account that shouldn’t be. Equally its important that you can see your income is being regularly paid in, although this is often more noticeable if there is a problem.
Review your debts
If you have outstanding debts, these should be reviewed. Summarise what you owe and the interest rates you are currently paying. Aim to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first. It may be worthwhile considering consolidating some of your debts into more manageable payments if you are struggling to make payments.
Do you have a Will, and when was it last reviewed?
Nearly 70% of the population die without making a Will. This can make things complicated when you pass away, especially if your situation is not straightforward. If you have an existing Will, it’s worth looking at this each year to check if things are still up to date. Have you had a change of circumstances such as getting divorced, or a bereavement of one of your beneficiaries? Have you had a change of heart? Is your Will set up in the most tax efficient way?
Do you have a Power of Attorney set up?
According to the Alzheimer’s Society there are around 850,000 people in the UK with dementia. This is a very difficult subject to discuss, particularly with family. Setting up a Power of Attorney (POA) can allow you to nominate who you would like to look after your finances or health decisions, if you were unable to. Since 2007 Lasting Power of Attorney’s have been split into two types:
- The Health and Welfare
- Property and Financial Affairs
The health and welfare POA can only be used when you are unable to make your own decisions and covers health and welfare needs. The property and financial affairs POA covers decisions over managing your money and property such as making sure your bills get paid.
Review your savings, investments and pensions
If you haven’t started saving for your retirement, now is a great time to start. Putting aside a little each month can become a habit and can make a much more enjoyable retirement. If you have savings, investments or pensions, when did you last review them? Do you have a list of everything in one place so you can keep an eye on the returns each year? You could also ask yourself:
- Are your savings, investments and pensions in the best possible place?
- Do your investments still meet your original investment aims?
- Has your attitude to risk changed since you set up your original plans?
- Are the funds still performing and when did you last rebalance the portfolio?
If not, then it may be time to review these and make changes either yourself or with your financial adviser.
If you have any questions or comments regarding the points made above or would like to discuss things further please get in touch. We can also recommend a local solicitor if you would like to discuss making a Will or POA with a professional.
Please note the above article does not constitute advice. Before changing your finances we recommend speaking to a professional to ensure any changes are appropriate for your individual needs.