The beginning of the new year can be a great time to reflect upon your personal finances and create a financial planning checklist. Consider the actions you can take now to put you and your family in good stead for the year ahead.
Whether or not you believe in setting New Year’s resolutions, it’s prudent to review your finances and ensure they’re in good shape for 2024.
Here are some actions you can take to create your financial planning checklist for the new year:
Set short and long term financial goals
You should start by setting clear financial goals for the year ahead, and further into the future. What do you want to achieve this year? Where do you want to be in 5 to 10 years’ time? What steps can you take now to get you there?
Shorter term goals could be increasing your monthly pension payments or health cover. Your goal for the year could be to help a child or grandchild onto the property ladder with a financial gift. Longer term goals could be to achieve an early retirement or become mortgage free in 5 years.
A financial planner can use cashflow modelling in order to map your goals over a period of time and budget your finances to meet them. It is important to check in and reassess your goals to make sure you are on track with what you want to achieve in life, as circumstances may change.
Review your retirement savings
Are you investing enough into your pension or possibly a lifetime ISA? The start of the new year is a good time to review your retirement savings to make sure you’re on track to achieve your goals.
Are you wishing to, or having to, retire earlier than state pension age in the coming years? Has your financial plan accounted for this? What actions can you take now to prepare you financially and emotionally?
If you are aged over 55, have you taken advice about the options for drawing down your pension savings? Now may be a good time to reach out to a financial planner who can advise you on your pension drawdown.
It may also be a good time to top up your pensions with surplus savings to help reduce your tax bill before the tax year end on 5th April 2024. Be sure to speak to your financial planner who can advise you on affordability and the logistics of this.
Update your will and get an LPA
The start of a new year is a great time to get your estate planning in order. Updating or creating a new will ensures that your personal belongings, assets, and investments go to the beneficiaries of your choosing. It’s not only important to build your wealth, but to protect it too.
Do you have a lasting power of attorney in place in case of an accident or illness? It’s important to have this protection in place before any loss of capacity, and the start of the new year is a great time to get this organised.
Review your insurance policies
It’s also good practise to review your financial protection policies to make sure they are still adequate for your needs. This should include life, health and medical insurance as well as mortgage protection, income protection and home insurance.
Do the deductibles need to be raised? Are there less expensive policies available that offer similar coverage? Are you taking advantage of all the discounts offered to you by your insurance providers? Your financial planner can work with you to ensure you have the right policies in place for your needs and confirm you are making the most of the financial protection available to you.
Check your ISA allowances
Before the tax year end on the 5th April 2024, it’s prudent to check you have used your full ISA allowances for the year.
You can save up to £20,000 into one type of ISA account or split the allowance across some or all of the other types – whether you have cash, stocks and shares, innovative finance or lifetime ISAs.
Review your emergency fund
The beginning of the year is a good time to review and boost your cash buffer or emergency fund for dealing with the unexpected. Anecdotal advice suggests that people should hold 3-6 months’ worth of general expenditure in cash for emergencies, but it shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all calculation. The amount will differ, depending on the individual and their circumstances.
Your financial planner can offer expert guidance on how much cash you will need to hold for emergencies depending on your life stage or working circumstances. They will discuss any concerns you may have for your financial future, assessing the risks and likelihood of potential events and the financial impact they could have.
Review the tax you will pay in 2024/25
Now is a good time to review the amount of tax you will pay in the year ahead, and your financial planner will be best placed to advise you on these matters.
It could be that transferring savings or investments to your partner may minimise the tax payable at the higher rates next tax year. It may be prudent to consider the timing of dividends and bonuses to minimise tax payable.
Your financial planner can discuss the core opportunities you should consider as the old tax year ends and the new one begins.
Speak to your financial planner
Do not hesitate to contact your financial planner for guidance on your financial planning checklist, they can work with you on your particular goals and needs for the year ahead.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to review your finances. Without a plan in place for achieving your goals, there is no way to tell if you are on track to fulfilling the vision you have for your financial future and your personal finance goals.
To speak to our team of financial planners, please contact us today.