The BBC recently commissioned a survey among 20,000 people asking ‘What would you like to do before you die?’ The answers were noted and a list of the most common answers was compiled and entitled ’50 things to do before you die.’
There were some very interesting answers. In at number 50 was ‘to go Polar Bear watching’, the animal theme continued to be popular with ‘to see tigers in the wild’ at number 45 and interestingly, ‘to drive a husky sledge’ reaching number 38. The travelling theme was also present within the list, ‘taking the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Vladivostok’ featured at number 33 and ‘walking the Great Wall of China’ proved to be a popular choice charting at number 16. However, the silver medal position went to ‘scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef’ with the number 1 answer being ‘to swim with dolphins’.
Before being asked the ‘what would you like to do before you die’ question, without doubt a number of the 20,000 would have given their answer straight away and then gone on to achieve their ambition within their lifetime however, it would certainly be interesting to find out how many of those surveyed had never before given such an important question much thought but, having then given this some consideration, had answered the question and then actually went on to achieve their stated goal. I would guess a surprisingly high number. The mechanics for those knowing that their number one ambition before they die was to swim with dolphins could be considered surprisingly quite straight forward. Surely it would be a matter of deciding where in the world they could carry this out, what the actual cost of the exercise would be together with when their budget and diary would allow such an activity to take place. It could be argued that the most difficult part of such an exercise is simply deciding what it is you would really like to achieve in the first place!
Financial Planning is no different. The actual mechanics of the process although interesting, at times intimidating but ultimately quite exciting, are relatively straightforward. Once you have established what it is you would like to achieve you may be confident enough to tackle these issues yourself. However, just as many call upon the specialised services of accountants and lawyers, finding a good, experienced financial adviser with whom you can build a long lasting working relationship is likely to help you achieve your goals more quickly.
Fifty is a pivotal age
In financial planning terms, fifty is quite a pivotal age. As a ‘thirty-something’ many consider the world is at their feet, and then,
possibly discovering life really begins at 40! While approaching the half-century may seem like the half time whistle went a few years ago, in reality there’s hopefully a long way to go as yet! Victor Hugo once said ‘Forty is the old age of youth. Fifty is the youth of old age.’ Whether or not you see your fiftieth birthday as a major mile-stone of your life it certainly is an excellent ‘target date’ by which you could judge if your financial priorities have been achieved or are on track to being achieved.
And for those who are approaching fifty now is a good time to take stock of your finances as the good news is you still have time to prepare for the next major milestone in your life which is likely to be your retirement.
I am sure we all dream of a future free from money worries and many would agree the earlier you start to plan the better as this makes it easier for your goals to be achieved. Therefore, the check list below is designed to help you plan and prioritise the 10 things to sort out before you reach the big five-a!
1. Check your budget
If you haven’t done so for some time, you should review your current living costs. Start by listing your essential monthly outgoings such as your home loan and food then, after including those items you would consider important, add in the monthly items you would consider treats and luxuries. Interestingly, this exercise leaves many scratching their heads asking ‘where does the money go each month!’ Once you have worked out your regular monthly outgoings, hopefully there is some money left which can be classed as your disposable income. This may also be a good chance to highlight the areas where money can be saved, perhaps by shopping around for better deals on your regular bills or on your insurance for example. If it turns out, by working through the check list, that you need to save more for your retirement years or to start thinking for your child’s future, you will have a better idea of how much you can really afford.
2. Review your savings and borrowings
It’s a fact of financial life that it usually costs more to borrow than you can earn by saving. So the message is this: if you have cash to spare, you should probably use it to pay off your debts first.
continued in Part 2…