Getting to grips with family finance is really important now that the UK economy is so unsettled by the ongoing BREXIT negotiations. Some mums are even stockpiling tinned foods and medication because they fear lots of their staples will vanish if no deal is reached. Has there ever been a more uncertain time in recent memory for family finance?
Readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of budgeting and putting a bit aside for a rainy day. This is something that the Husband and I drill into the kids on a daily basis.
There’s nothing like teaching them the power of anticipation and the value of saving up for the things they really want.
But now, more than ever, it’s time to get to grips with our cash and to plan for as stable a 2019 as possible by setting solid financial goals.
I think I inherited my financial caution from my parents. I can still hear dad’s voice behind me when about to squander my pocket money on a copy of Jackie or some Black Jack chews (4 for a penny!). “You don’t really need that, do you?” he used to say.
Mum and Dad were both born in 1939 just in time for World War II and having experienced rationing their attitude to saving is a lot more stringent than that of most Millennials.
When you’re young you always think you’ll live forever and you really can’t envisage the day when you’ll need your pension – or what desperate circumstance might arise when you’ll need to get your hands on some cash quickly.
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When you become a homeowner (which is increasingly looking a rather remote possibility for Caitlin and Ieuan), it is often a bit of a shock to be landed with bills for replacing a boiler, rewiring the electrics or fixing a leaky roof!
Equally, though, you don’t want to spend your life always worrying about whether you should be enjoying yourself. We are only here once (depending on your personal beliefs of course).
Life is too short to wallow in guilt about treating yourself occasionally.
Planning your financial year is the answer.
It’s time to pick up our pens and planners (some of us still haven’t got to grips with Google spreadsheets) and create a budget which will cushion us against financial shocks whilst still adding a frisson of excitement to 2019.
And I’m sure we are all looking forward to a more exciting and happier year than 2018 which seemed to chiefly feature BREXIT and the looming nightmare of Donald Trump.
I am 55 this year and those of us over 50 are aware that retirement is, if not exactly looming on the horizon, something that needs thinking about. Saving is pretty critical in these years and you really don’t want to be dipping into your savings pot to fund large items of expenditure.
I’m sure most of us don’t want to start taking out large, and often expensive, loans either.
One way to release funds for things such as home improvements like a conservatory or adapting a property to meet mobility needs, or that long-promised cruise, is by equity release.
Now obviously you will want to make sure that you take independent financial advice to look at your finances as a whole and to plug any gaps which might need urgent attention – especially your pension and possibly funeral planning.
But equity release may well work for you. This is where you obtain funds derived from the value of your property whilst still being allowed to live there.
Saga helps those over 55 with its equity release service and, used sensibly, this can help you gain greater control over your finances. Make sure you do your research first before signing on the dotted line.
So, what action points are on the Hobbis Family’s planner?
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Here’s our top 5.
Still far and away our biggest expense. This year we’re trying to save £3 a day up to the first of December which should give us £996.
We have two weeks in Devon booked with Toad Hall Cottages and need to pay off the balance around March.
If our funds will stretch I’d like to take an extra week towards the end of the summer holidays (when everyone is in dire need of something to remove the boredom and boost the spirits!).
I’d also look to have a few shorter breaks and take a lot more day trips.
Just the word tends to make my soul sink but it has to be done. We took all the carpet up hoping that wood floors would help with allergies and reduce dust.
They do, but the house creaks in the night like an old galleon and it’s impossible to creep about without risking waking the kids.
Plus we’re hoping to dampen the sound of our next door neighbour’s occasional belief that he lives in a night club in Ibiza and ramps up the volume of his stereo accordingly.
We’ll make sure we time our purchase around bank holidays and general sale periods when there are often great deals to be had.
The key to this is menu planning and shopping list writing. It’s something I’m still trying to discipline myself to do.
Otherwise, it’s too easy to wander around Tesco throwing ‘things you fancy for tea’ in a trolley which, 9 times out of 10, wouldn’t make a nutritionist very happy.
Then there’s Ieuan’s “Mr Kipling” habit but since Mr Kipling’s cakes are rapidly reducing to the size of microdots, it might be time to get baking again.
If you avoid impulse buying and plan your purchases sensibly you can often save by buying through cash-back sites like Topcashback which is free to use.
So that’s our top 5. I think it’s a good idea to sit down with the family (and the kids!) and discuss financial objectives for the year.
It’s never too soon for little ones to grasp that their parents have to work for their money and that there are some things which have to be paid for before Roblox, Minecraft and anything with a puppy printed on it.
Have you planned your financial year yet? What difference do you think BREXIT has made to your decisions surrounding family finance?