Even with careful financial planning, shocks can happen. Often financial crises are unexpected and out of our control, so it’s important to have a safety net to fall back on. However, research suggests that most people don’t feel confident in their ability to overcome a financial crisis. Keith Bonner, Managing Partner and Independent Financial Adviser at Pembroke Financial Services, explores some of the steps that can be taken to improve financial resilience.
Whether it’s unexpected property maintenance or redundancy, it’s essential that you feel confident in your financial situation. Research from Aegon indicates this isn’t the case for millions of Brits though. It found just three in ten men and two in ten women are confident they could financially handle a major unexpected expense. Money worries emphasised this lack of confidence too. 76% of women and 72% of men admitted they worry about money.
If that sounds familiar, here are five steps you can take.
1. Keep track of your spending
It’s easy to lose track of where our money is going. But it’s a sure-fire way to miss opportunities that could save you money.
Keeping tabs on a household budget can highlight were direct debits, such as utility bills or phone contracts, have crept up. A regular review will help you find the best deals and reduce essential living costs. It can also highlight where discretionary spending is adding up. Small expenses often go unnoticed when you look at the bigger picture, but they can have an impact. If you’re worried about money because you feel you’re not saving enough, for instance, cutting back here can help.
2. Reduce high-interest debt
If you have existing high-interest debt, such as credit cards or loans, you should prioritise repaying these.
“Interest rates on savings are at a historic low. As a result, money in your savings accounts is likely to be offering significantly less interest than the amount you’re paying to service the debt. Reducing debt first can mean your outgoings are eventually reduced, allowing you to divert more to savings in the future,” Keith says.
“Not only does it make financial sense to pay off debt, but it can be a weight off your mind. People often find their financial wellbeing and their confidence improves when they are debt-free.”
3. Build up a rainy-day fund
Having a financial safety net to fall back on can deliver more confidence too. It’s recommended that you keep three to six months’ expenses in an easy access savings account. This gives you a financial buffer should something happen.
It can seem like a large target if you’re starting from scratch. But you should make it part of your budget, transferring a set amount each month. As it gradually grows, you’ll hopefully start to feel more confident in your financial security.
4. Consider your long-term financial plan
Keith adds: “Often when we worry about money, it’s the short term we focus on. However, looking ahead to the medium and long term is also important and can be a source of anxiety. Once you feel more confident in your current finances, turning your attention to goals further down the line is the next step.
“This may include adding more to your pension, building up an investment portfolio or creating a nest egg for children or grandchildren. Knowing you’ve taken action to meet long-term aspirations can provide a confidence boost and help you feel more in control of your finances.”
5. Seek financial advice
The research suggests employees would like additional financial support. 69% of women and 65% of men would find face-to-face financial advice useful, as it allows them to address specific concerns. Even if your workplace doesn’t offer these types of benefits, it is possible to get the type of support you could benefit from.
Some services can offer guidance on a range of financial wellbeing issues, from debt management to your options at retirement. Seeking financial advice can also help you create a holistic financial plan that addresses your concerns, goals and long-term ambitions. It’s a process that can give you confidence in your ability to weather the unexpected, including financial shocks. To discuss your needs, please get in touch.
Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.