Trying to save for your future while supporting others financially? Here are five tips to help you find the balance

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Kirsty Kerr

June 17, 2024

3 mins read

We often find ourselves financially supporting our loved ones at some point in life – whether it’s the cost of raising children, giving financial help to adult children or grandchildren, or caring for elderly parents or other dependants. 

But supporting others can be costly, and it can be easy to compensate for those extra costs by cutting back on your own financial goals and priorities – like saving for your future. But do this, especially for a long period of time, and you could risk short-changing your future self.

So here are five money tips that could help you find the balance between supporting your loved ones now, and yourself in the future.

1. Don’t stick your head in the sand

When you know you’re not paying enough attention to your retirement savings, it can be easy to fall into an "I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it" mindset. But ignoring it won’t set you up for success later.

The best thing you can do is to make a plan for your future – even if it’s a rough one. We’ve gone into detail about the power of planning before but, in a nutshell, it can make you feel more in control of your finances now, and more confident about your future too.

Even basic things like setting a goal of how much you want to save can make a big difference. You can read more about the power of planning in our article or read our five-step guide to retirement planning to get right to it. 

2. Make a budget – and keep reviewing it

You might be thinking “I already have a budget” – but when was the last time you reviewed it?

Regularly reviewing your budget is almost as important as creating one in the first place. Things change – quickly. Particularly when you’re supporting others as well as yourself. Salaries go up or down, kids pick up new hobbies and caring responsibilities and costs fluctuate.

Little changes can pile up over time, and if you don’t re-evaluate your situation each time, you might find you become unfamiliar with your own finances. So it’s a good idea to review your budget every time something changes – even if it’s just your Wi-Fi provider putting your monthly bill up by a few pounds. The more in-tune you are with your money, the better off you could be.

3. Claim child benefit if you can

If you’re supporting children, are you making the most of child benefit? 

It’s financial support offered by the government to help with the costs of raising children. If you’ve got two or more children under 16 (or under 20 if they’re still in education or training), it’s worth more than £2,200 a year. So it’s well worth making the most of it if you’re not already. The extra boost could help you feel more confident about putting some money aside for the future.

You can find out more about child benefit, and what to do if you currently earn too much to claim it, in our article.

4. Save together

If you have a partner, it’s likely you’re financially supporting your loved ones together – so why not save for the future together, too?

When you make your plans for the future, plan as a couple. There are lots of benefits to doing this, including that you’ll need to save less individually for retirement than you would if you saved separately. 

You can even pay into each other’s pension plans if you want to. Meaning if you need to take a break from work to help with some of the more practical aspects of supporting your loved ones, your partner could keep some pension payments going into your plan. That way you’re not missing out on the benefits of paying into a pension plan.

5. Find out if you’re eligible for help

It’s estimated that more than £15bn of benefits go unclaimed every year, so you could potentially be missing out on government help without realising it.

If you feel like you’re struggling to find to money to put towards your future and cover the costs of today, it’s worth looking into. 

A good place to start is the government's benefits calculators page. It has lots of online calculators that give you information on income-related benefits, tax credits, Council Tax Reduction, Carer’s Allowance, Universal Credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your working hours.

The information here is based on our understanding in June 2024 and shouldn’t be taken as financial advice.

A pension is an investment. Its value can go down as well as up and could be worth less than was paid in.

Standard Life accepts no responsibility for information in external websites. These are provided for general information.