With all of the changes happening at the minute – from rocketing inflation rates to cost of living worries – now could be the perfect time to take stock and make some changes to help improve your financial future.
As prices and bills continue to soar, you’ll undoubtedly notice some changes to your day-to-day life. And if you don’t change any of your spending habits, then you’ll find that the amount you need to maintain your current standard of living will start to cost more and more.
So it’s a good idea to reassess your finances and do what you can to boost your own sense of financial wellbeing, including doing what you can to help boost your pension plan and other investments. Following these simple tips now could help avoid money worries later.
Set a budget
If you’ve already set yourself a budget – now’s the time to check and update it. If you haven’t, now’s the time to set one up.
There are loads of new tools online that can help you get on top of your incomes and outgoings. Shop around for new apps that can give you an overview of everything you earn, owe or spend in a single place. To get started you could try this free budgeting tool which will analyse your household spending and help put you in control of your money.
Cut your costs
A review of your spending will often highlight any unnecessary outgoings which you could reduce or cancel altogether. Or try shopping around for better prices on utilities and services by using comparison sites.
Money saved today could be invested in your future and just diverting a little can give some peace of mind. MoneyHelper has loads of cost-cutting tips that could free up some extra cash to save – covering everything from utilities and holidays to cars and home improvements.
Stay safe online
The last thing anyone wants is to add to their money worries by falling victim to the scammers seeking to steal personal information and money. For clear and practical help on protecting yourself online read the Government’s top tips for cyber awareness.
Get if off your chest
Talking more openly about money can help people make better financial decisions, build better relationships, help their children form good lifetime money habits and feel less stressed. You can read our article Uncomfortable money topics and why it can be good to talk about them for more information. Or the Money and Pensions Service has guides to help you start conversations about money with friends and family.
Keep calm and think long term
We understand that the ups and downs in the markets this year have been worrying for those with pension plans and other investments, especially anyone approaching retirement or already taking some of their pension money.
When it comes to long-term investments it’s important not to panic and take any sudden decisions without thinking things through. But you can easily review where things stand with your pension plan by logging on to your account or speaking to your provider or employer. And our pension calculator can help you see whether you’re on track for the retirement that you want.
You may have things you need to save for in the short term – maybe the last few years have convinced you of the need for a rainy day fund. But if you can afford to save more into your pension plan too it could make a big difference to the choices you have in future in terms of when you retire and what your lifestyle in retirement might look like.
Please remember that a pension plan is a long term investment. You normally can't access your pension savings until age 55 (age 57 from 2028). The value of any investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than what was paid in.
Review where you're invested
One of the best ways to help cushion yourself against the worst of market ups and downs is to make sure you have a good mix of investments. You may already be benefiting from diversification. For example, if you’re in the ‘default’ investment option of a workplace pension plan, this will generally include a broad mix of investments. But it’s worth checking - and that includes your pension plan, Individual Savings Accounts or any other investments you might have. You also want to be comfortable that your investments are right for your age and the amount of risk you want to take. This risk questionnaire can help you with this.
Get the guidance or professional advice you need
We’ve got lots of guidance online for you if you want to understand your workplace pension plan better, if you’re thinking of taking money from your pension plan or want to learn about pension transfers. Or you can try the MoneyHelper website for more.
But before taking any major decisions it’s a good idea to consider getting financial advice. An adviser can provide you with a tailored plan that meets your individual needs. If you don’t have one you can find one local to you at Unbiased. You should also check the firm or individual you're dealing with is listed on the Financial Services Register. Bear in mind that there’s likely to be a cost for getting advice.
The information in this article is based on our understanding in June 2022 and should not be regarded as financial advice. Please remember that the value of investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than what was paid in. Standard Life accepts no responsibility for information in external websites. These are provided for general information.