Unless you fall into the category of being a hard core financial geek, the chances are you don’t review your accounts more than once or twice a year, if that.
But by simply giving your finances a regular ‘once over’ could help you save money and avoid pitfalls.
Here are Globaleye’s top tips to help you give your finances a summer ‘health check’:
1) Check up on your expenses
With family members enjoying up to 10 weeks holiday, summer spending has a tendency to get out of control. But on closer inspection, has your annual spend exceeded respectable amounts?
Pop your data into a money management software such as Mint and within just a few minutes, you’ll start to get a picture of where your money is going and how you can cut back.
Once you’ve got an idea of your ‘spend’, you’ll be able to work out a new budget.
Why not see if your family can stick to a cash allowance. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
2) Look through your accounts – with a fine-toothed comb
Ever get that feeling that your salary ‘just went’. You wouldn’t be the first.
Conducting a thorough review of your accounts can turn up a few surprises and shocks.
For example, the direct debit for the gym membership you no longer use. Online magazines or data storage you don’t need. Charges for international money transfers that you had no idea about. Don’t get me started on the kids.
Surely this little exercise is worth a moment of your time.
3) Review your mortgage
When did you last look a refinancing your mortgage?
The most expensive thing you are ever likely to own is your house. But for some reason, carrying out a mortgage comparison seems pretty low on the ‘to do’ list for many of our clients.
This simple task, which can be carried out by your financial adviser, could save you thousands over the life-time of a loan.
4) Dare I ask – Self Assessment?
If you have a property in the UK and that property is in both your name and the name of your spouse, it is likely you should both be completing annual HMRC Overseas Self Assessment Forms.
Should this be a grey area, contact HMRC in the UK or speak to your financial adviser. Falling behind with your Self Assessment can accrue hefty penalties, which may be waiting to haunt you on your return to the UK.
5) Plan ahead for absolutely EVERYTHING
It’s only summer, but you need to start planning for Christmas – especially if you travel. And last Christmas, why didn’t you plan for summer?
Planning ahead for everything can save you a small fortune. Flights, hotels and accommodation are all generally cheaper the earlier you book (and don’t forget to tick the ‘Insurance’ option to protect yourself from unexpected circumstances).
If you have children, Christmas is a big one to plan ahead for, by setting finances aside well in advance. Gifts, activities, out-tings and Christmas ‘magic’ all come at a price, but by saving in advance your balance sheet will suffer a smaller shock closer to the time.
6) Get rid of loans
Don’t even think about saving until you’ve gotten rid of loans, credit cards and debt (not including your mortgage).
The high interest rates that come with loans trump saving – by a long shot. As soon as you are debt free, that’s the time to start stashing your cash.
7) Save. Save. Save.
Are you even saving anything?
You’re not alone. Take a few seconds to consider the future of yourself and your spouse, your retirement, your children and their education and university fees.
When we tell our clients they should have been saving for their child’s education from the moment they were in the womb, we generally receive silence in response.
The future very often seems too far away to worry about… until it arrives.
8) Last but by no means least – Insurance
If you or your spouse lost your job tomorrow, would you be financially able to cope?
Life Insurance ensures you and your family are financially protected in the event of unexpected circumstances. Critical Illness Cover ensures payments are made in the event of illness or disability. Income Protection Insurance covers your bills in the event of job loss.
An emergency fund kept in an instant access account acts as a great buffer zone, should the worst happen. But emergency funds generally don’t last longer than three to six months, and you wouldn’t want to jeopardise your savings.
For a helping hand to get your finances in shape this summer, contact your local Globaleye branch.