New Year, New You: Time for a Financial Healthcheck
January is widely seen as a blank slate, and the time of year that most often inspires a health kick. But in the midst of meal-prepping and gym joining, it’s important to take some time to run a healthcheck on your financial life too.
Here are the key areas to address in your new year financial healthcheck.
Create Your Personal Safety Net
Like a good first aid kit, an emergency savings pot is there when you need it. If festive spending has resulted in your savings taking a hit, your first priority is to rebuild your emergency fund. It’s generally recommended to have at least six months of living costs in an easy to access savings account to help deal with unexpected bills or sudden changes in your circumstances.
You can also mitigate some of the financially disruptive impacts of unforeseen events by ensuring you have comprehensive insurance and protection policies in place – our experts can advise on tailored solutions to meet your needs.
And whether retirement is on the horizon or a long way down the line, your long-term saving and investment plans will have a major impact on your future quality of life. Our clients receive an annual check-up on their retirement plans, ensuring their dreams stay within reach.
Track and Tinker
January might see you map out a personalised workout plan, and it’s also the ideal time to create and experiment with your household budget.
Whether you use budgeting apps, spreadsheets or good old pen and paper, start by tracking your current spending – it can be eye opening to see where your money actually goes! You can then assign your spending to categories, e.g. eating out, entertainment subscriptions, car running costs etc.
Having tracked each expense, ideally for at least one calendar month, take a closer look at your categories to see any areas where you could identify savings. Try reducing your budget for supermarket shopping, for example, and you might find new more affordable brands to try, or be more motivated to meal plan or to take advantage of loyalty schemes.
You can also use the new year as a prompt to look ahead at any upcoming financial changes which might affect your household budget, such as the end of a fixed-rate period on a mortgage. Our experts can help you remortgage up to six months before the end of your current deal, searching the whole market for the best available rates.
Put in the Prep
Whether the idea of meal-prepping sends you running for the Tupperware or the takeaway menu, there’s no denying that advance preparation sometimes comes in handy. Take advantage of January’s air of productivity to make an early start on your tasks for the new tax year.
Having clear and complete records to hand will make the process immeasurably easier when the time comes in April, so take time during any new year decluttering to gather paperwork such as payslips, rental income, investment returns and dividends, and track down any missing records.
Check in on your annual allowances to make sure you receive the maximum benefits possible before they expire. Have you maxed out your 2023/24 ISA investments, for example, or paid up any missing contribution years from your pension or National Insurance record?
If you’ve not quite ticked off the current tax year, remember that online returns for those completing Self Assessment for 2022/23 must be submitted and paid in full by midnight on 31 January 2024, which is also the deadline to pay any outstanding tax on paper returns filed by 31 October 2023. Payments on account for the tax year 2023/24 will be due on 31 July 2024.
Making a note of these dates will help you keep on top of your upcoming financial year. For more holistic financial planning, why not make 2024 the year you achieve peace of mind by working with our award-winning team?
Get in touch for a no-obligation chat, completely free of charge, and hear how our expert team could help you whip your finances into shape in 2024.
McCrea Financial Services is Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
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