Getting Organised: The First Steps Towards Financial Clarity

Pensions

The first step in the financial planning process is gathering all the information needed to make financial decisions. Because this can take valuable time, people are often tempted to jump straight to the decision. This usually leads to suboptimal financial choices, some of which may be irreversible.

From our work with clients, we’ve learnt that making smart financial decisions is only possible when all the relevant information is available. For this reason, our relationship with new clients always starts with getting financially organised. Doing this well lays the groundwork for the clarity and confidence that always follows excellent financial planning.

From Chaos to Order

Many investors struggle with disorganisation. The overwhelming nature of scattered documents, unclear cash flow, and a lack of clarity about one’s financial situation can take a significant mental and emotional toll. It’s easy to feel trapped in a cycle of financial uncertainty, unsure how to break free and take control of your money.

However, hidden beneath the surface of this chaos lies the transformative power of financial organisation. Getting organised initially seems daunting, but every journey begins with a single step. We suggest that you start small and celebrate your progress along the way. Financial organisation is a skill that can be learned and improved over time.

One of the first steps in getting organised is to create a centralised hub for your financial information. This can be a physical binder, a digital folder, or a combination of both. The second step is collecting the documents, statements, and information that make up your financial life and saving them in your centralised hub.

By having all your important documents in one easily accessible place, you can quickly and easily reference the information you need to make informed decisions about your money.

The Power of Financial Clarity

At the heart of organisation lies the power of clarity. When you take the time to gather and review your important financial documents and information, you create a clear picture of your current financial situation. This clarity is like a map, helping you navigate the complex landscape of your financial life with confidence and purpose.

With your financial information organised, you can gain a deeper understanding of your financial life. This means closely examining your income, expenses, savings, and investments and identifying patterns and trends that may impact your financial health. Are there areas where improvement can be made? Are there opportunities to redirect your resources towards your goals?

Financial clarity also enables you to set meaningful, achievable goals for your future. When you clearly understand your starting point, you can create a roadmap to guide you towards your desired destination. Whether you’re saving for a new home, planning for retirement, or working to pay off debt, having a clear action plan can help you stay motivated, focused, and on track.

Taking the First Steps Towards Financial Organisation

Financial organisation is like a beacon of light guiding you through the fog of financial confusion and illuminating the path to a brighter, more secure future.

The process and effort of getting financially organised may seem daunting at first, but the rewards are well worth the effort. When you commit to decluttering your finances, you’re not just tidying up paperwork – you’re laying the foundation for a more empowered, intentional relationship with your money.

We have successfully assisted countless families in this process, and we are more than capable of guiding you through the first step towards achieving the peace of mind from excellent financial planning.

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The Deceptive Allure of “More”

Pensions

Cashflow is the lifeblood of any financial plan. How we allocate the money coming in will determine both the present and the future of our families. It’s not a glamorous topic, but it’s undeniably ground zero of financial success.

Our cashflow challenges evolve as we move through the different life phases. Our early working years are typically about providing for essential daily “needs”. For those whose careers allow them to break free from daily concerns, the allure of certain “wants” starts to emerge. These desires challenge our beliefs about what we need to be happy.

This internal battle rages on throughout life, and how we respond to this challenge will determine our future financial success. But what truly brings fulfilment, and what consequences do these decisions have for our future selves?

The Quicksand of Accumulation

Our desire to accumulate more is grounded in evolution. A striving for “more” drove past generations to create the world we now live in, and current-day economic theory is still based on the assumption that “more is better”. But, in a world where most of us have moved well beyond providing for basic needs, does this instinct for more create problems we could do without?

As financial advisers, we have witnessed firsthand families who have become ensnared by lifestyle creep at the expense of their futures. It’s a tradeoff many now regret, but like quicksand that gradually ensnares its victim, it’s difficult to break free.

Similarly, we have worked with many wealthy families who have found a way to overcome the desire for “shiny new things”. These families have a well-developed and personal philosophy of their values and a clear picture of what they consider a life well-lived.

Embracing The Tradeoff

There are many ways that spending can bring happiness and joy – interestingly, many of our clients have shifted their spending from possessions to experiences with family and loved ones.

However, everything in financial planning is a tradeoff. For many, embracing “more” comes at the expense of their own “tomorrow”. Tragically, this only becomes evident in most cases when it’s too late to change course.

Before all of us lies the invitation to let go of pursuing “more”, choosing instead to embrace “enough”. We appreciate and understand that everyone’s definition of satisfaction and “enough” is unique and personal. No matter what your definition of “enough” is, for most of us, this still means lives magnitudes better than our grandparents.

Navigating Together

We encourage you to seek clarity about what is truly important to you, bringing more intention to your spending and investing. All consumption cannot, and should not, be avoided. Indeed, one person’s “want” is another person’s “need”.

While you will always remain the expert in the design of your own life, we are the experts in guiding families in making the tradeoffs that provide them both meaning and an independent future.

Guiding families from pursuing “more” to embracing “enough for tomorrow” is our reason for being. The comprehensive planning we provide includes all the tools you need to walk your financial journey successfully. We look forward to guiding you on your journey to “enough”.

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An older couple watching the sunrise on a hike.

State Pension triple lock: Pensioners set to benefit from a 10.1% rise

Pensions

The State Pension is set to increase by a record amount under the triple lock due to high levels of inflation. If you’re claiming your State Pension, read on to find out what it means for your income.

While there had been speculation that the triple lock would be suspended this year, the Conservative Party under Liz Truss committed to maintaining it. However, new prime minister Rishi Sunak hasn’t commented on the triple lock yet.

For pensioners, it’s an important way to maintain spending power as the cost of living rises.

The State Pension increase will be based on September’s inflation rate

The State Pension triple lock guarantees that it will increase each tax year.

As the cost of living generally rises gradually, this can help pensioners to maintain their standards of living throughout retirement. The Bank of England (BoE) has a target to keep inflation around 2%. While this may seem small, it can have a significant effect on how far your income will stretch during retirement.

Let’s say you retired in 2011 and needed an income of £35,000 to achieve the retirement lifestyle you wanted. According to the BoE, your income would need to have increased to more than £41,700 in 2021 to deliver the same lifestyle as average inflation was 1.8% a year.

Over a retirement that could span several more decades, the effect of inflation can really reduce your spending power.

The current high inflation environment – the rate was 10.1% in the 12 months to September 2022 – means that pensioners’ income may be stretched more than they expect.

As a result, knowing that your State Pension will increase each tax year can provide some peace of mind. While the State Pension often isn’t enough to reach lifestyle goals alone, it does provide an important foundation for many people.

So, what is the triple lock? It means that the State Pension will increase by one of three measures, whichever is higher. These measures are:

  • Average wage increase
  • Rate of inflation
  • 5%

The inflation rate was the highest measure at 10.1%, and pensioners are set to receive the largest rise in income since the triple lock was introduced.

The full State Pension will increase by £972 a year in April 2023

Pensioners that receive the full State Pension will see the income it provides rise from £185.15 a week to £203.85. The annual income it will deliver will be £10,600 in 2023/24 – an extra £972 a year.

Under current rules, you must have at least 35 years on your National Insurance record to be entitled to the full State Pension.

If you have between 10 and 35 years, you will be entitled to a proportion of the full amount. If you don’t receive the full State Pension, the amount your income will increase for the 2023/24 tax year will be lower.

State Pension rules have changed over the years, including significant reforms in 2016, and they can be complex. If you have any questions about what you’re entitled to and how the triple lock will affect your income, please contact us.

Do you need to update your retirement plan as inflation rises?

The triple lock means the State Pension you receive will increase next year. However, as it’s likely to be just a portion of your income in retirement, it’s a good idea to reassess how your expenses and income needs may have changed.

Inflation may mean that your regular expenses have increased over the last year. Your disposable income that helps you reach retirement goals may also not stretch as far.

In some cases, you may want to take a higher income from your pension or other assets, like your savings and investments. It’s important you consider the long-term effects of taking a higher income now – could it mean that you run out of money in the future?

Taking the time to review the effect of inflation on your retirement plan can help balance short- and long-term needs.

Contact us to talk about your finances in retirement

Whether you have questions about how rising inflation will affect your pension or other parts of your retirement plan, we’re here to help. Please contact us to discuss what you want to get out of retirement and how to achieve it.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until 55 (57 from April 2028). The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.

The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances. Thresholds, percentage rates and tax legislation may change in subsequent Finance Acts.

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