We’ve established that it doesn’t grow on trees (thanks mum!), it has a scary tendency to disappear quicker than we earn it, and the financial whizz kids who ‘get’ pensions, investments and financial planning are presumably some type of alien life form!
Friendly alien, Carol Brick of CWM Wealth Management, who runsHerMoney.ie, a dedicated advisory service for professional and self-employed women has this practical advice for getting a grip on your finances in 2017.
Know Your Net Worth
A job for that rainy day in January that will prove most worthwhile and maybe a little bit scary!
Write down your monthly and big-ticket annual expenses, like loan repayments, insurances, household costs and holidays and plot them against your income. Don’t forget to factor in your tax bill too if you’re self-employed.
Always start with your bank statements noting the regular bills, mortgage or rent payments, childcare, club memberships etc, and your regular and ad-hoc income streams including any benefits like children’s allowance.
Budget don’t Borrow
If it doesn’t all add up, strike out or scale back some discretionary spending like eating out, holidays, luxuries, memberships and subscriptions etc.
Question what you’re paying on things like phones, TV, insurance and utilities, and shop around – if you’re not changing provider every couple of years, you’re probably losing out so ensure to check these out.
Look at where you can save or earn money, maybe walking more to save on transport costs, car-pooling, making lunches, cutting back on those take-away coffees and bulk-buying at the supermarket shop, a part-time job, renting a room, selling unused or unwanted possessions online, or harnessing your hidden talents like dress-making, book-keeping, or web-design for friends!
If you absolutely need to borrow, take advice on the cheapest lending available to you and shop around. Banks looking for new business may extend better overdraft rates, and look for credit card companies offering a low rate of interest, or 0% interest, on balance transfers.
Avoid running up the crazy interest rates that credit card companies demand; try to clear your balance each month or pay off as much as possible - websites like MABS have good advice on budgeting and debt!
Where there is a net income or profit on your annual budget sheet (well done, you!), develop a regular saving habit. Even the most modest monthly savings can add up to a priceless security blanket, and also help with your credit rating if considering a mortgage or other future borrowings.
Direct payments from your salary into a longer-term savings account or a pension make sense, as you’re less likely to miss the deduction.
Talk to an independent financial advisor about pensions, savings and investments - advice is free, confidential and non-obligatory!
Pensions - the Future is Now!
This a No brainer – take out a pension now, if not yesterday!
Very generous tax relief (over 50% in some cases!) is available on pension contributions. It is essential for everyone to have a private pension pot to boost your state pension income.
A 30-year-old woman could accumulate a pension of around €300,000, over 35 years, for the price of a latte a day. The earlier you start, the easier it is.
A contributory State pension at around €12,000 a year, (if you’re even entitled to it!), is a major income drop for most people, and the age at which you become entitled to a the state is constantly being pushed further out.
Talk to an independent financial advisor about your personal retirement plan to ensure that this stage of your life will be something you can really look forward to.
Thinking about leaving the PAYE world to set up your own business or to work freelance or as a consultant? Take time and plan properly!
Before cutting ties with your full time job, be sure that there is a market for the product or service you offer. Ideally sign up a couple of clients beforehand.
Talk with those already freelance in your industry to learn more on the potential market and clients, and ensure you have enough capital to cover your living expenses for the first 3-4 months.
A reliable accountant will advise on the sole trader versus company director approach, and on the various tax implications. Install a user-friendly software system to account for your income and expenditure on a day to basis (see www.contracting365.ie)
Replacing key employee benefits such as a pension, income protection and death in service (life cover) is important for the self-employed, as is knowing about the different types of insurances needed, such as Professional Indemnity cover.
Hit the Markets
The Financial markets deliver better returns than bank deposits over time, especially with our current low and no-interest deposit accounts. If you have a nest egg or inheritance, talk to an advisor about a suitable investment with one of the Life companies. By investing in these funds either on a regular or lump sum basis, you gain access to the growth potential of equities, bonds and property etc.. A good advisor will measure your attitude to market risk and then explain the different types of funds to suit your requirements. Managed funds spread the risk across different types of stocks and financial assets and are an excellent option as a longer-term investment, with no set up costs and low annual management charges.
If you like the idea of property investment without borrowing (a mortgage), perhaps consider Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) listed on the Irish Stock Exchange, and some of the various property funds available from the life companies.
Carol Brick is Managing Director of CWM Wealth Management, a financial advisory business with offices in Cork and Dublin. Carol also operates HerMoney.ie, a dedicated advisory service for professional and self-employed women. Professional impartial financial advice is available covering a wide range of financial products centred on retirement planning, including the review of existing pension provision, life cover, income protection and investments. HerMoney is a trading name of CWM Wealth Management which is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
Call 01 611 0707, or 0214839350 in Cork, or firstname.lastname@example.org