The start of a year is the perfect time to make a few resolutions, particularly financial resolutions. But how many of you have let those slide just a few weeks into 2014? With this mind, here David Russell, managing director of Guardian Wealth Management in the UAE, lays out† a three-point plan which, if followed through, will not only ensure your financial wellbeing over the next 12 months but will also boost your chances of greater prosperity.
Step one: Fix whatís broken
Comb through all your savings accounts. Are the rates paid rewarding enough to earn your loyalty as an account holder for another year? Will there be penalties to pay if you switch? If not, research the best payers, check you can meet their terms and conditions, and move your nest-egg. If a deposit-taker canít be bothered to make your custom worthwhile, it doesnít deserve to have you as a customer.†
Another area that could well be in need of fixing is insurance and protection. Are you and yours fully shored up against disease, ill health, or death? Check through your current policies (find out what, if anything, your employer is covering on your behalf) and consider what level of protection would bring you and your family peace of mind. Now research the best policies on the market appropriate to your circumstances.
Step two: Re-examine your savings potential
Look again at your monthly outgoings. Such a re-examination would call for a list of all large bills down one column and any future wealth dreams down another. Under bills youíll need to list protection (insurance) and pension plan premiums (as detailed in point one). Include school and university fees and the years these bills must be met. Include realistic estimates of annual household bills and living expenses. Under wealth dreams, for example, youíll need to consider where you are with property ownership and where you want to be in 10 or 20 yearsí time.†
Is paying off a mortgage as quickly as possible important to you? What sort of property is on your wish list? Your choice of a Tuscan villa, a bothy on a wild stretch of a Canadian coastline or a pied-ŗ-terre in downtown Sydney, will determine what currency you should be factoring into your savings plan.†
Still on the second point, under the wealth dreams column, note down the kind of retirement income you wish to achieve. Working with a professional adviser, begin to evolve a savings plan. Organise this now to make these dreams come true.
Step three: Consider how youíll keep a steady hand on the financial tiller
If change isnít necessary, then itís necessary not to change. Many expatriates will be at the stage in a financial plan when it is important to keep matters as they are. If a course has already been set with a view to delivering a comfortable retirement income, then any change could undermine that strategy and should only be contemplated in discussion with your financial adviser. At the same time, itís worth remembering that an investment portfolio never runs itself. Even if no changes are necessary, you do need to look at all thatís held within the portfolio - particularly with an eye towards the retirement side of your long-term savings plan, and discuss how it all fits in with your particular risk profile and time of life.
A three point plan such as this one requires resolve and concentration but itís still a relatively small effort to put in when you consider the potential gain youíll stand to make over 2014 and beyond.