Prudent financial planning is a hugely important component of family life. It is key to achieving financial freedom and peace of mind. As a parent myself, I completely understand how difficult it is to see past the day-to-day running of a busy household, never mind trying to keep on top of work either on or off the farm.
That said, too many families are failing to future plan financially, whether it’s saving for short-term emergencies, your children’s third level education costs or ensuring provisions are in place should one of you need to stop work due to illness or – even worse – premature death.
Taking appropriate steps now to identify and fill any possible gaps in your financial plan will ensure that you are on the right path moving forward.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure you are in a better financial position going into 2024.
Household expenditure review
As Charles Jaffe’s famous saying goes, “It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it's your spending habits.” With this in mind, my advice is to kick start your ‘2024 financial reboot’ by conducting a rigorous and strict review of your current spending habits.
Print out a monthly bank statement, then sit down to examine the various outgoings over the month and look at ways to make any possible savings.
Build a savings plan
Once you have reviewed your household expenses, you should hopefully find that you are spending less than you earn which now paves the way to start saving a certain amount per month.
Your first priority should be on a savings fund to cover any unexpected expenses or emergencies. This should ideally be at least three to four times your monthly net salary. A straightforward deposit account is the best option for this type of fund.
After you have covered this emergency fund, then you need to look at larger items you may need in the next five years – for example, changing the car, house renovations etc.
Next, longer-term savings goals can be established. You need to decide what this goal is, set a realistic deadline and give yourself plenty of time.
Examples could be saving for your children’s third level education or to ensure you have a comfortable retirement. The current cost of a four year degree at one of Dublin’s universities considering all costs including fees and accommodation etc. is €64,000 in total (per child). So many parents need to start saving now. If you could possibly save your monthly children’s allowance and invest it in a carefully chosen Unit Linked Investment Plan, you will have a much better chance to meet those future costs.
Explore your household entitlements
We find that families frequently do not take the time to ensure they are claiming and benefiting from the correct tax reliefs and credits as well as any social welfare benefits and allowances they may be entitled to.
Ensure to take the time each year to claim back your 20% tax relief on medical and other relevant expenses. These claims add up and it is straightforward to do via the ‘myAccount’ section of the Revenue website (ros.ie/).
Consider your covers
If you or your partner could not work and earn income due to illness or injury, what would your financial situation be? Would you struggle to meet basic expenses including mortgage and education costs, medical expenses, or even paying monthly household bills.
Income protection cover and/or serious illness cover will provide financial support in such an instance. You need to ask yourself in the case of serious illness knocking on your door, could your household continue on only a fraction of its current income? If the answer is no, then seek immediate financial advice.
The sooner you take control of your money and your financial future, the sooner you’ll benefit. It will greatly diminish the stress of any uncertainty about your and your families’ financial future. We recommend to always engage with a financial adviser.
Carol hails from a dairy farm in Kilmoyley, Co Kerry and is managing director of CMW Wealth Management Ltd. Carol launched HerMoney, a specialist service for women in 2017 with an all-female team of advisors. If you have a question for Carol you can email email@example.com.