The lockdown is key to protecting ourselves against Covid-19. For some of us it means no work, for others it means working at home – and for almost everyone it means more spare time than we know what to do with.
At Continuum, we have some ideas to help you use the time.
Plan your budget
Having a domestic budget is vital in normal times, and even more important if you are facing furlough or income worries.
Of course, you may be spending less now. Parking, petrol, train fare, coffees, eating out and entertainment will all be on hold, which will make it easier to see what your unavoidable costs really are.
Getting a clear view of your monthly spending now could help you have more cash in your pocket when the world goes back to work.
Review your insurance
Many of us simply roll over our insurance policies each year, letting inertia and direct debits stand in for shopping around. From basics, like car cover and home protection to the all-important family protection of life insurance, this can mean paying too much.
If you have made lifestyle changes – marriage, children, buying a home – over the last few years, it is worth spending some of your free time reviewing your cover.
If you do not have life insurance, the current situation has shown how important it can be.
Check if your life assurance policies are held in trust. This means that when the funds are paid out, they do not form part of your estate, leaving more to your loved ones and less to the taxman.
You can use a comparison site to find lower cost cover for your car and home, but life insurance deserves a review with an expert – at Continuum we will be pleased to help. With the pandemic still on, you might want to discuss critical illness insurance and income protection at the same time.
Write a will
Writing a will is something we all know we should do, and yet never seem to get round to doing. With no will, your wealth will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy, which may mean your wishes are not followed – and could potentially leave more to the taxman than to the beneficiaries.
Writing a will is the first step to estate planning, helping avoid Inheritance Tax which at 40% on an individual’s wealth above £325,000 (known as the nil rate band current tax year 2020/2021) could mean a major loss for your loved ones.
With time on your hands, there really is no reason not to get your will sorted out, whatever your age.
Writing a will demands professional help. You will need your solicitor to write it up, and the help of a Continuum adviser to ensure that it uses the most tax efficient approach.
Look at your pension
Reviewing pensions is something else that many of us put off until it is too late. You need to plan for a comfortable old age, and it is easier if you don’t wait until your old age is imminent to do it.
So, review your arrangements to ensure they will provide the level of income that you need, and search out any old pensions that you may have taken out in the past. Many of us have pension funds that we forget about when we changed jobs earlier in our careers. Finding them now could make a big difference to our futures.
Again, expert help is essential, and a Continuum adviser will be pleased to provide it.
Look at your investments
If you have investments, they may have seen some volatility as stock markets react to the epidemic. There could potentially be some buying opportunities – but you should not buy blindly in the hope that whatever you buy will head back up.
At Continuum we can help you develop an investment strategy in line with your financial goals and attitude to risk. A changing world means new investment possibilities – and makes it vital to spend some of your free time on an investment review.
What to do now
A full financial review could be the best way to make the most of all the time on your hands.
Even though we are all in lockdown and face to face meetings are on hold, at Continuum we can still give you the individual help advice and support you need. We are using video links and the phone to provide our usual personal service, and a call to us now will get one of our team working with you to review all your financial arrangements.
It could be the very best, and most rewarding way to use your free time.
The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable investment strategy, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.
The value of investments can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invested.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Estate Planning, will writing, taxation and trust advice.
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