I think 2018 is going to be an unpredictable year both for the economy, investments and our household finances. Perhaps getting our own arrangements ‘in an efficient state’ is more important than usual.

Here are a few ways you can help yourself

1)     Set yourself a savings target – If you have no ‘emergency fund’ then you need to create one by setting aside a monthly amount. If you have too much ‘in the bank’ in cash paying very little interest, then you need to address this. One area of predictability in 2018 is the likelihood that interest rates will continue to lag behind inflation meaning you are eroding the capital you have in the bank

2)     Scrutinise your bank statements – Have a look and see where your outgoings are. Some will be for unnecessary items, some might be described as frivolous, some might simply be poor value for money. Do you pay your bank a monthly charge, but use none of the incentives?

3)     Utility Costs – When did you last change power supplier – I changed mine in 2017 and saved in the order of £400 in the process which is simple and easy to do.

4)     Credit Card – Paying off the debt is usually the right thing to do, making sure you minimise the  interest charged is essential.  You may of course you use a credit card to gain cash incentives etc.

5)     Insurance – When was the last time you checked your buildings, contents, motor, mobile phone, holiday or pet insurance to name just a few? If it’s been a while you are more likely to be paying more than you may have to. At the same time check the cover is still appropriate.

6)     Direct Debits and Standing Orders – Are they all still needed? Any you don’t recognise?

7)     Coffees and Lunch – These always seem like small inconsequential outgoings – but they are not. When did you last buy a coffee or a sandwich for less than £2.50? Is this a daily occurrence?  If you can find 10 minutes more at home in the morning, there is an alternative!

8)     Mortgage Review – When did you last review your mortgage? 2017 has seen the first interest rate rise in many years. If you did not have time to look at your mortgage then, maybe you should now? Making savings and peace of mind are two very good reasons to do so.

9)     Personal Protection – Review your life assurance, income protection insurance, critical illness and/or private medical insurance. You may be paying over the odds – more likely you are underinsured.

10)   Tax – We all have certain allowances to reduce taxes be it income tax, capital gains, or inheritance tax. Are your financial arrangements making use of all of them?

11)   State Benefit Review – If you are in receipt of some state benefits, when did you last check to see if there is any other support you may be entitled to?

12)   The next generation – Finally if you have children in your household, maybe 2018 is the year to start getting them into good habits such as making savings, not wasting money etc.

Author: Phil James, Grosvenor Consultancy Ltd

There are advantages and disadvantages to using all of these strategies and they depend on individual circumstances so don’t take action without seeking competent advice. Tax rules, rates and allowances are all subject to change. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice and some forms of offshore investments. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the full amount you invested.

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