Rainy days are a common occurrence in Britain. In fact, we're pretty much known for them! So, with that in mind, why are there so many tasks that are perfect for such an occasion, but we keep putting off time and time again?
In reality, many of the most commonly put-off pieces of ‘life admin’ don’t take all that long to do, and they could help to give us and our families more secure financial futures. So, as the cost of living continues to rise, this is something you might want to make a priority now more than ever before.
We get it, though. After a busy week spent juggling work, grocery shopping, childcare (if you have kids, of course), and socialising with your friends (if you have enough energy left to do so), the last thing you probably want to do is to think about things like life insurance or your pension when you have some free time. But life comes at you fast and the time to start thinking about your retirement will be here sooner than you think.
Plus, sorting these life admin tasks sooner rather than later could be beneficial in the long run – and some of them may have an impact on your life now. So, here are some of the biggest tasks and why you might want to make them a priority the next time you have an afternoon spare.
Assess your savings situation
Chances are, this is probably already at the top of your to-do list thanks to the rising costs of energy bills, groceries, and everything else that seemed to be a lot cheaper practically 5 minutes ago. And with inflation likely to increase even further throughout 2022, you might want to consider building an emergency savings fund (or adding to it if you already have one). It’s typically recommended that this will be 3 to 6 months’ worth of outgoings, and although you might want to keep these savings separate from the money you use day-to-day, you’ll likely want to ensure that it is easily and quickly accessible in case you do need it.
And if you already have some easy-access savings, then it might also be worth considering an ISA (Individual Savings Account). ISAs are savings and investment accounts that allow you to deposit up to a certain amount in them each year without paying tax on any gains you make, thanks to the ‘ISA allowance’ (which is £20,000 for the 2021/22 tax year).1 This could be in the form of interest earned from your savings (in the case of a Cash ISA), or dividends from your investments if you choose a Stocks and Shares ISA. But with inflation at a thirty-year high, your money could lose money over the long term if it’s kept in cash savings. However, if you invest instead, then you could get back less than you put in.
There are four types of ISAs available (as well as two types of ISAs for children), and which could be best for you will depend on your personal circumstances – such as your financial goals. For example, you might want to consider a Lifetime ISA to help you save the deposit for your first home due to the government bonus you could get. Alternatively, if you want to save for your child’s future, you could put money away in a Junior ISA (or ‘JISA’) for them ready to access when they’re 18. You could open a Junior Cash ISA for them to gain interest on their money or invest their savings in the stock market through a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA (such as the one we offer).
With a Junior ISA, the amount you can save or invest is less, with the allowance for the 2021/22 tax year standing at £9,000. However, you can use this allowance in one type of JISA or spread it across both types. Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s normal for stock markets to fluctuate, so if you choose a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA, your child could always get back less than what was invested for them.
Consider combining your pensions into one
It’s said that the average worker will have around 6 jobs in their lifetime – or they could have more than 122 if they happen to be a millennial. And with most employers automatically enrolling you into their workplace pension scheme when you join a new company, you could have the same amount of pension pots lying around forgotten. This means that you could be paying a different set of fees for each pension you have, and if you don’t know what providers they’re all with, then you may struggle to access your savings when the time comes.
So, next time you’re faced with a rainy day, why not make it a task to track down your old pension pots? If you’re unsure of who your provider is or what your policy number is, a good first step could be seeing if you have any old letters or emails (such as annual statements) from your provider as these will often have your policy number on them. And if your search is fruitless and you still need guidance, we’ve actually written a handy blog on how to find a lost pension that you might want to check out.
Once you know where your pensions are hiding, consider combining them into one new pension (a process that’s sometimes called ‘pension consolidation’). This process is much quicker and simpler than you might think (especially if you use a provider like Wealthify who will do all the hard work for you), and once you’ve transferred your pensions to us, you’ll only pay one set of fees and will be able easily see exactly how much you could have for your retirement. Plus, you can top-up your new Personal Pension with us whenever it suits you.
Check your subscriptions and direct debits
Looking to cut unnecessary costs? A good place to start could be reviewing your bank statements to see what subscriptions you’re currently paying for and assessing whether you actually need them. If you’re not one to comb over your in-goings and out-goings each month, there could be some that you’ve forgotten to cancel after the free trial has ended. Or you could simply not use them anymore but happily pay for them each month without another thought.
As a matter of fact, research3 we conducted at the end of 2021 found that almost 20% of Brits have paid unknown fees due to not cancelling free trials before they ended, or because they simply didn’t read the terms and conditions properly (or at all). In addition to this, we also discovered that the average Brit spends approximately £9.90 a month on subscriptions they don’t or rarely use. While this might not sound like a lot, it tots up to a considerable amount at £118.80 a year.
And if there are some subscriptions you want to hold onto, then it might be worth looking into whether you can reduce the cost. For example, if you’re paying for the most expensive plan for the streaming service you use, could you downgrade to the cheapest one? After all, do you actually benefit from the extra features, or are they just nice to have in case you wanted to use them?
Additionally, if things like your car insurance are due to be renewed soon, it could be worth seeing if you can save some pennies by moving to a new provider and working out if you can afford to pay the whole amount upfront instead of in monthly instalments (this often works out to be cheaper). Data from Moneysupermarket actually suggests that the typical motorist may be able to save more than £200 by paying for their car insurance annually. 4
Get your life insurance sorted
It may not only be your personal financial future that you want to make more secure – there’s your loved ones to think about too. If you have dependents who would be financially affected if you died, life insurance is one of those things that could be very important to have sorted, but people have a tendency to keep putting off and think they’re too young to worry about right now. But one thing to keep in mind is that the cost of life insurance can increase the older you get, which is why it’s often advised to take it out before you reach 35.5
We know it’s not the nicest thing to think about, but if the past few years have taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected, and there are a few scenarios where it could make sense to start thinking about getting life insurance. For example, if you’ve recently taken out a mortgage with your partner, then it’s normal to want to be prepared and help them keep your home in the event of the worst happening. You may also have young children who’d need financial help until they’re able to support themselves.
There are tonnes of providers out there, as well as various types of cover to choose from – such as ‘level term life’ insurance (where the cover amount stays the same throughout the policy, meaning you could protect this against inflation), ‘decreasing term’ life insurance (where the cover roughly reduces in line with a repayment mortgage) and ‘over 50s cover’ (we probably don’t need to explain what this one means!). So, before you make any decisions, you might want to do some research into these.
Want to find out more about investing your money tax free? Our Stocks and Shares ISA offers an affordable and simple way to get started from just £1, and our team of experts will make all the investment decisions for you. And if you’re ready to combine your pensions into one pot, we can take care of that for you too! Find out more about our Pension Transfer service and how to get started.
Please remember the value of your investments can go down as well as up, and you could get back less than invested. With a Junior Stocks and Shares ISA, your child could also get back less than what was invested for them.
The tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.
Wealthify doesn’t offer financial advice. Please seek financial advice if you’re unsure about investing.
- Research conducted on behalf of Wealthify by Opinium Research amongst 2,000 UK adults between 17th and 21st December