How can I get in control of my finances in the New Year?

2022 background. Stock photo.

Ask the expert at Smith & Pinching about organising your finances as a New Year's resolution - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

For the last couple of years, I’ve let my finances drift and I feel like they’re out of control. I’m not struggling financially but just have no idea what I should be doing with my money. I’ve decided that my New Year’s resolution is to get back in control but don’t know where to start. Can you help?

Jeremy Woodruff, Director and Chartered Financial Planner with Smith & Pinching

Jeremy Woodruff, Director and Chartered Financial Planner with Smith & Pinching - Credit: Smith & Pinching

Jeremy Woodruff of Smith & Pinching responds:

You are not alone in burying your head in the sand during the Covid pandemic. It’s been a time of real uncertainty and concern, and many people have deferred making financial decisions.

Depending on your financial circumstances, it may be a good idea at this point to put together a proper financial plan that takes you from your current position to where you want to be at different stages in your life. What you do with your money should be a clear strategy that identifies your goals and sets a course to achieve them.

It’s not an easy process to build a financial plan and, unless you are a finance professional or have considerable experience of planning and investing, I strongly recommend that you get advice from an Independent Financial Adviser, ideally from a firm of Chartered Financial Planners, to make sure that your plan is accurate, logical and achievable.

In order to put together a financial plan, you and your adviser would need to look at all the factors that affect your wealth. This would include your personal circumstances – age, health, family, employment, etc. – as well as your financial position such as if you are a homeowner, what savings and investments you already have, your normal income and expenditure and any future significant purchases.

Once we have all these facts together, we would put in place the measures needed to achieve the targets you’ve set. These might include pensions, investments and protection plans such as life insurance and income protection, as well as tax planning to ensure that whatever you do with your money is tax-efficient.

Putting a financial plan together is just the first step in the process. You should review and adjust your financial plan on a regular basis – at least once a year – to ensure that no changes are needed to keep you on track to reach your goals. Managing your investment portfolio – both inside and outside your pension fund – is another important element to review: you may wish to adopt a portfolio management service, for example. Your independent financial adviser will help you decide what level of review and management is right for you and your financial circumstances.

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Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice. The value of an investment and the income from it could go down as well as up. The return at the end of the investment period is not guaranteed and you may get back less than you originally invested.

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