Three key questions to help you focus on your finances:

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What are your financial goals?

Everyone’s life goals are different. Having a clear idea of what it is you’re hoping to achieve can help you focus your financial decisions.

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What are your timescales?

When do you want to reach your goals? This will help you decide how to structure your plan, and where best to put your money.

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How much risk do you want to take?

How you invest your money depends on how much risk you want to take. Think carefully about how you want to offset risk with the potential for higher returns.

A smart financial plan should have the right balance between four main areas, depending on your personal situation.

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    Investing

    Stocks and shares are a good idea as part of a well-balanced plan and ready-made investments have made the stock market more accessible. This type of investment enables you to choose a deal based on the amount of risk you are willing to take.

    Investments are not guaranteed to rise, their value can also fall. So, you should look to leave any money you invest for at least 5 years. This will help you ride out any market changes and give you a better opportunity for growth.

    Stocks and shares could be a good addition to your savings and not a replacement for them. To understand your options, you could speak to a financial advisor, but there may be a charge for this.

    The tax you pay on investments depends on your personal circumstances and may be subject to change.
     

    Start investing

  • Graphic showing the government top up of an extra £25 for every £100 invested in pension.

    Pensions

    Paying extra money in to your pension can be a good way to set yourself up for your retirement. You could also benefit from tax relief on the money that you pay in. For example, if your basic rate of tax is 20%, the Government will top up your pension with an extra £25 for every £100 you pay in.

    Higher rate tax payers could also benefit from additional tax relief. This can be claimed directly from HM Revenue & Customs.

    To save enough money for your retirement, the 2022 Scottish Widows Retirement Report recommends that you should save at least 12% of your income. If you have a workplace pension, your employer may match some or all of your contributions. There are limits to how much you can pay into a pension in a tax year and still receive tax relief on. Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and may be subject to change.

    Keep in mind that the money you put in your pension will be locked away until you’re at least 55 years old (increasing to 57 in April 2028). Consider your options if you think you may need to access this money sooner.

    Plan for retirement

  • Graphic illustration shows the interest saving of £2,094 (at 3% over 10 years) based on a £100k mortgage and a- £10k lump sum overpayment.

    Mortgages

    If you have a mortgage, one of your goals may be to pay it off early. While this is a good idea, it may be better to pay off any other debts first, especially if they have a higher interest rate.

    If you are on a fixed-rate mortgage and face higher repayments when it runs out, it might be worth paying some money off your mortgage while your interest rate is potentially lower. This would reduce the impact of a rise in future payments.

    It’s also worth checking to see if you have any Early Repayment Charges as some mortgage lenders allow a maximum 10% overpayment each year.
     

    Managing your mortgage

Info graphic shows example reasons for emergency savings. These include, unanticpated travel, job loss, emergency pet care, home repairs, home appliance replacement and car repairs.

Savings

Savings are an important part of a financial plan. They can give you security, easy access to your money and steady growth.

Savings can also help with short-term goals and can give peace of mind in case of emergencies. Having a savings fund equal to around 3 to 6 months of outgoings, is a sensible part of a plan.

When saving, look for the best easy-access savings rate. Or, if you can tie up cash for more than 6 months, you may get a better rate with a fixed-rate savings account.
 

Savings tips and tools

 

What should you do next?

This will depend on your own personal situation. It might be that your plans don’t need to change at all. But here are three things to consider:

  1. Make your own plan. Make decisions based on your own circumstances.
  2. Get up to speed. Take the time to understand all the options available.
  3. Go for your goals. Make sure you have a plan that will help you reach your goals both now, and in the future. 
     

How can inflation affect your savings?

Find out more about what the rising inflation means for you and how to make sure you’re prepared for it.

Understanding inflation

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