When you have commitments and a family, sometimes the financial responsibility can weigh heavily. Having personally gone through the process of Financial Planning (not just financial advice), I feel much more in control. My family is the most important thing in my life. I couldn’t sleep at night if we weren’t financially secure.
Financial Planning isn’t about products and investments (although they play an important role). It’s just as much about having a mentor to help you make decisions and weigh up the pros and cons. You can’t be your own objective mentor. Roger Jackson, Director of Financial Planning is my own Financial Planner here at FMB in Kendal.
My husband and I began having regular meetings a few years ago, at a stage in our lives when clients typically first approach us. We were 45 and things were starting to get more complicated. I’m lucky my husband is an accountant and great with spreadsheets. I had already sorted out things like critical illness cover and life insurance as we have two children, so together we had been doing okay.
You need a strategy
We didn’t really have a long term plan. You need to pin down your goals and make a plan to achieve them. For most people, even when you are relatively wealthy, you still have to make choices about what to do and more importantly WHEN to do it and in what order. When we started out we had quite a bit of research to do. Finding out what we were spending our money on, looking at what we already had in place and deciding on the milestones we wanted to achieve.
Fast forward to now
We have achieved some of our milestones already which is great. The kind of decisions we still need to make have been around whether to pay off our mortgage early. Can we afford to upsize one more time? What sacrifices would we need to do to achieve that and what impact could it have on our retirement plans? We wanted to make sure both of us would be financially secure if anything happened to one of us. Could we maintain our lifestyle if one of us couldn’t work? We have children so we wanted to make provision to help them if they want to go to university?
In amongst these big picture financial decisions are lifestyle choices. What happens if one of us doesn’t work full time into the future and are we prepared to reduce our outgoings? Many couples wrestle with these decisions and these are the kind of compromises and choices you need to consider. There is always a balance to be struck and where you find it is a very individual decision.
Here are some of the ways Roger has helped us:-
• Using cashflow modelling software to show the impact of lifestyle decisions. Considering options such as increasing our mortgage, retiring earlier. Looking at what would happen to our income if one of us can’t work and what effect a market crash would have.
• Helping us organise our affairs tax efficiently with a balance of cash/ISA/Pension to ensure short, medium and long term cashflow. Making sure we use tax allowances.
• Investment strategy using a balanced portfolio for long term growth including ESG investments as we would like to encourage better corporate practices.
• Being a critical friend and asking the right open-ended questions to find out what is important to us. Finding out how we see our future. As a couple it is sometimes eye-opening how different your priorities can be.
Our financial plan is an evolving document, so many things can happen in a lifetime, but it is so satisfying each year to achieve short term goals and see progress towards the future. It’s much better to have a handle on it rather than just worry and guess.
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