There’s no better time than the end of the year to take stock and set some money plans in motion to help you look to the future with confidence.
We’ve picked four of the most popular MoneyPlus articles from 2019 to help you do just that.
From brushing up on your financial skills and great ways to save for children, to simplifying your finances or dreaming of retiring early – and ways to make this happen – read on.
Looking past the 9-5? Get fired up about early retirement
The festive season can be a wonderful time of year, but when the alarm goes off in the dark winter mornings you’d be forgiven if your thoughts occasionally turn to dreams of retiring early to travel the world, enjoy your hobbies or spend more time with your family.
So, it’s little surprise that our feature Get fired up about early retirement was one of this year’s best read.
The FIRE movement (which stands for financial independence, retire early) suggests cutting your spending dramatically and saving half your income. But we all want to enjoy life, so what are ways to get on the road to financial independence without such big sacrifices.
Getting into a budget habit is crucial. Check out budgeting software and smart bank accounts. You can find tips for this and other ways you could grow your money in your 30s and 40s here.
Then there’s saving for it. Making the most of any tax-friendly ways to save such as your pension or ISAs can make a real difference. You can read more about ISAs in What are ISAs, who are they for and when should I consider one?
Ken Okoroafor, founder of thehumblepenny.com, says your first step is considering how much you want in retirement and when you want it to start, then compare this to your current financial position and work out what gap in savings needs to be filled.
Ken adds: “A thorough review of one’s lifestyle and a bias for the essentials are necessary to stay on course for early retirement. This frees up more cash to be saved and invested. Making the most of matched employer pension contributions is also a good way to boost that pot.”
A great habit? Regularly check how your pension savings are doing and look at how much you could have in the future using our pension calculator.
And take a look at how much you’re likely to need when you’ve said goodbye to the 9-to-5 using our retirement tool.
There’s more in Get fired up about early retirement
Smart ways to give children’s saving a boost – 6 simple ideas
For many people this time of year is all about the kids.
Giving them a head start with saving and getting them into the right money habits is a gift that could make a lifetime of difference, so we came up with six simple ideas to help you help the children in your life.
Anyone who remembers the pleasing rattle of coppers in a piggy bank knows it’s never too early to start, whether that’s setting little savings goals or opening a savings account in their name. The good news is there are ways in which you can save for children which may be tax efficient such as Junior ISAs.
Making budgeting and saving part of everyday conversations will make it seem less of a scary thing. This can be an expensive time of year, so why not involve them in your Christmas plans or ask them to come up with ways to make some savings? They’ll love the challenge.
Today’s kids have so much choice when it comes to the tech that can make saving fun. We run through some of the apps and accounts available, such as RoosterMoney and gohenry.
There’s plenty you can do to give children a head start. We explain some of your options for saving for the longer term, including starting a Junior ISA.
Back to savings school – 7 money lessons
Whatever your hopes and aspirations are for the new decade starting in 2020, now is a great time to set some goals and make some solid financial plans to help you achieve them.
We look at seven money lessons which can give you the confidence to make those plans – and stick to them.
The Christmas break is a great time to start shopping around for better deals on things like utilities or insurance. MoneySavingExpert.com is a useful site.
Understanding the basics of how money works doesn’t just give you the confidence to plan, it can also make a real difference to the money in your pocket.
Inflation is a great example. If you understand that inflation means your money loses value over time you can make smarter decisions about the best way to approach saving and investing.
And if you want to make your savings work harder, we discuss how investing your money could give it a better chance to grow – something we could all do with after Christmas shopping.
Got a few pensions?
Things can get a bit complicated when you have several pension pots. With UK workers changing job on average every five years, it shows why our article on what to think about when considering combining pensions into one pot was pretty popular in 2019.
There are reasons why you might want to consider combining – from cutting down on admin to making it easy to keep track of what you’ve got in your pot, and how much you’re paying in charges. But it won’t be right for everyone.
Before doing anything, get up-to-date information from your pension providers on how many pensions you have and what they offer.
If you think you’ve lost track of any, get in touch with past employers or the government’s Pensions Tracing Service. It’s usually straightforward.
Our four simple steps can help you decide if combining your pensions into one new plan might be right for you. If you decide it is, and you have a Standard Life pension, most of our policies allow you to combine your pensions online or through our app – or you can consider other providers.
It could be a way to get a head start on sorting your finances in 2020.
All articles correct at time of issue. The information here is based on our understanding in December 2019 and should not be taken as financial advice. Laws and tax rules may change in the future and your own personal circumstances will have an impact on tax treatment.
Pensions and stocks and shares ISAs are investments. The value of investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than you paid in.
Standard Life accepts no responsibility for the information contained in the websites referred to in this article. These are provided for general information only.