Have you ever really taken a close look at what you have? I mean everything.
At FMB we are Financial Planners. This means we look at the whole picture, your goals and aspirations, assets, liabilities, health and family situation. We don’t just sell you a product or invest some money. Do you need a financial planner? Well obviously I would say yes! However, if you have the time and an inclination to do a bit of research then you can make a good start yourself.
Start by making a record of all your assets. This is everything you own that is of worth including your liquid assets e.g. cash and investments. If you own your own home and perhaps have additional properties do you actually know what they are worth? It is worth doing some investigation here because this can change significantly over time. Some people assume they won’t have an Inheritance Tax liability because they have undervalued their home. You can find out online how much similar houses have sold for in recent months to get a good idea.
You may have other assets that are not so easily available, such as pensions. If you have worked for a variety of employers you may have lost track of them - you can find lost pensions online using your National Insurance number. Once all located, ask each provider for a retirement forecast. Don’t forget to get a state pension projection too as this will be important when you put your future forecast together.
Now you need to take into account all your liabilities; mortgage, loans and financing. Your net worth is simply the difference between all your assets and liabilities, although you may not readily be able to spend it as most of it is likely to be tied up in your home and your pension.
Once you have done all that, it’s time to cast a forensic eye over your income and expenditure. This is where you can hopefully find the spare cash to improve your net worth over time. For one month, keep a detailed diary of what you are spending. You may have to make some choices. Remember it’s always a balance between enjoying your present life and planning for the future, so think before you cut back on things that make you happy. How often do we spend unnecessary money on things that add little or no value to our lives!?
One aspect often overlooked in the quest to save money, is the potential to create more income. There might be something else you can do to create wealth that you also enjoy doing, so that it won’t feel like a chore in your spare time. What about that novel you wanted to write? Or do you fancy doing a bit of e-Nay or carbooting? How about starting your own dog walking business? It may not pay as well as your day job but just a few hundred pounds extra a month invested wisely can make a big difference in the long term.
The next step is what to do with the current investable assets you have and any surplus monthly income you can free up or create. I’m not going to go into the myriad of ways you can do this as the tax implications, your personal attitude towards how much risk to take and how long you want to invest for always need to be taken into account. However, I do recommend you take professional independent advice with a regulated firm.
If you are a bit of a spreadsheet wizard you can even do a bit of forward planning. Thinking about the assets you have built up and the pensions you have, do you think you will have enough to live on? It won’t be very accurate but you will get an idea.
If you take the time to do all this detective work, you will most likely know a lot more about your situation than you did at the beginning which has to be a good thing! You can set yourself a goal and find great satisfaction when you achieve it.
To make even more difference, a qualified Financial Planner will have the experience and knowledge to make every penny work hard for you. They can ensure you make the most of all tax advantages offered, making use of rules and allowances, think of solutions that you might not know about and place your investments in the most suitable place for you. Sometimes just having someone to hold you to account can make the biggest difference. Here at FMB, once we have done our detective work, we use cash flow forecasting software to plot your financial picture out until age 100 which is very enlightening!
So, get that magnifying glass out and take a good look at your finances, the sooner you start the better off you will be!