With snow already starting to fall across large parts of the country, the odds we’ll enjoy a white Christmas are looking pretty good. But is the forecast for your 2018 finances equally as cheerful? With less than two weeks to go before a jolly red guy lands on your roof and his reindeers eat all your mince pies (but hopefully leave you a sack load of presents in return), this is the perfect time to do some valuable financial preparation and devise the strategy that will give you the best chance of enjoying a very happy new year. After all, where your savings, investments and pensions are concerned, it’s never too soon to make your 2018 resolutions.
The first step is to review your current financial position and determine what your goals will be for the coming year. How did this year’s goals work out for you? Are you and your financial aspirations still in accord or does a pantomime horse stand more chance of winning the Grand National? It’s been an interesting year where the money markets are concerned and often our priorities change, but even if 2017 didn’t quite go to plan this is your opportunity to make 2018 a lot more successful (and things could be worse – you could be standing beneath the mistletoe in the White House). Be clear and realistic about your short and long-term financial goals and in twelve months’ time you might have reaped a harvest far more lucrative than a handful of defective magic beans.
The second step? Remember that the tax-year ends on April 5, so you’ve still got time to use your ISA allowance (currently £20,000) and save tax more efficiently. April might seem a long way away (especially from this side of Christmas) but if you use your allowance now you’ll benefit from future tax-free years. However, if you don’t use what’s in your allowance by the time April 5 ticks around, you’ll lose it. A bit like a certain scullery maid whose glass coach turned back into a pumpkin at midnight.
What’s your state pension position looking like? Let your fingers do the talking faster than Aladdin can rub a magic lamp, click here and we will check on how many qualifying working years you have and what you can expect to receive in your state pension. After that, let us help you take a closer look at the pension plans you’ve got in place. Can you see a comfortable retirement on the horizon, or does that possibility seem farther away than Never-Never Land? You should always keep your pension plans under review to make sure they offer you the greatest benefits possible, and take advantage of valuable tax relief. No matter how much we’d like to, none of us can stay Peter Pan forever.
Do you have a favourite Christmas movie? Even if it’s Die Hard, we bet you’d rather hear your investment portfolio singing It’s a Wonderful Life, and it’s a certain bet that you won’t want to find yourself Home Alone because your investments have lost touch with your lifestyle and your long-range plans. That’s why it’s important to review your investment portfolio and make sure that your capital is being allocated appropriately, and that you’re on track for the right results.
Inheritance Tax (IHT) can trip you up faster than a flying carpet, so if you want to reduce the amount of tax your heirs will pay after they inherit your estate, make sure you’re up to speed with the latest advice. Your beneficiaries may still be liable to pay IHT even if you don’t leave a lot of money or property behind (the current tax-free threshold is £325,000 per person), so a little conscientious planning will make sure that as much of your estate as possible reaches the people you intended. (For what happens when you don’t conscientiously plan, see: ‘Why Widow Twankey’s Chinese laundry was better organised than the Brexit divorce negotiations’) It’s also vitally important that you have a valid Will in place. A properly executed Will means that your estate will be divided according to your wishes after your death, but if you die intestate there is no assurance of what might happen.
Is your mortgage still the best deal available, or is it as redundant as Mr. Blobby’s 1993 Christmas single? (Yes, his song did get to Number One. No, we didn’t buy it). There are a lot of cost-effective mortgage deals out there that might be a much better fit for your current circumstances, so doing a little bit of festive homework now could save you a lot of money in the months to come.
Finally, reacquaint yourself with your insurance and protection policies. Are they up-to-date and still fit-for-purpose? It doesn’t matter how much care and attention you put into other aspects of your life, if something goes wrong and you don’t have the right protections in place you could see all your carefully-laid plans evaporate into thin air quicker than Jacob Marley’s spectre. Never take any risks where your finances or you and your loved ones’ future is concerned, because unless your name begins with Sleeping and ends with Beauty it’s unlikely that a fairy godmother will come to the rescue.
Our key Christmas message is this: Take control, take advice, and rest assured that at Moyes Investments we are committed to helping our clients achieve the very best financial results possible. Our Discretionary Fund Management qualifications mean we can stay one step ahead with your investments. Nobody can guarantee a Happy Ever After, but if we’d been in charge of Baron Hardup’s portfolio that fairy tale might have ended very differently. You don’t have to wave a magic wand to reach us, just give us a call on 01638 429975 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always here to help at any time of year and, as they say in all the best pantomimes, “we are right behind you!”
Have a wonderful Christmas and here’s to a very Happy New You!