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Juggling kids and parents and feeling the strain

Your kids are growing up fast. Your parents aren’t getting any younger. You’re the breadwinner but the bread has a long way to go these days. There’s driving lessons. College fees. Care Home costs. And a new car would be nice. We’ll help you understand your options, show you how some of our Sandwich Men have coped, and tell which choices we rate and why.

Care home fees

It’s a dilemma – how do you plan for something when you don’t know if you will need it? Care homes are expensive, usually costing around £500-£700 per week. And often, you’ll need the money fast- sometimes admissions can come as an emergency. There’s no magic bullet, but there are ways to make the situation easier – we’ll tell you about your choices for funding this and share some other people’s first-hand experiences.

Boring Money’s Tips

If you (or your parents) have more than £23,250 of assets, then don’t expect the State to pay for care home fees. You’ll need to have a plan to fund these yourself.  According to research from Partnership, 32% of people say they will live with their kids – but just 4% have had this conversation. Oops.

  • Average fees are (wait for it) £30,000 a year for residential care and about £11,000 a year for care in your own home.
  • How much is in the pot? Do a bit of a back of the fag packet calculation. Create an inventory of all the income and assets available to you to pay fees – any pension money, the family home, ISAs and so on.
  • You have various options. Equity release – getting a chunk of cash out of the family home and using this. Savings from a pension or ISAs. Or ‘care annuities’ – paying a lump sum in return for care home fees to be paid for the rest of your (or your parent’s life). Gives you peace of mind but at an average policy cost of £100k – £150k! We explain this all in an article below.
  • Get a lasting power of attorney – you will need this to make financial decisions on behalf of anyone going into a home.

This useful article by (the youthful) Sandwich Man and para planner Richard Allum spells out some of the key things to think about.

Stocks and Shares ISAs

Stocks and Shares ISAs are a very good way to think about saving for stuff over the mid-term. If you would like to start to squirrel away some money to help your kids down the track, to save for retirement or maybe to help Mum then it’s worth thinking about these savings accounts. Largely tax free, they make a lot of sense, and we’ve done the legwork for you, suggesting a few good ‘uns below. For shorter term emergencies, the predictability of cash makes it the sensible approach although interest rates are dire so make sure you shop around.

Boring Money’s Tips

  • You can save up to £20,000 a year in a Stocks and Shares ISA and keep the taxman’s paws off the profits. But you can also typically get going from a direct debit of £50 a month online
  • It’s super flexible and you can get access to these funds whenever you want – it’s not locked away like a pension
  • Interest rates are lousy so make sure you shop around for the best deal if you are staying in cash – don’t just leave it in your current account! Today’s top rates are about 1.1% for a fixed term of 1 year
  • If you’re inexperienced with the stock market, Virgin, Nutmeg and Standard Life have some of the least intimidating, user-friendly journeys out there and are all good options
  • If low fees are your thing, consider the Vanguard LifeStrategy range of funds and stick one of these in our cheapest pick of ISAs below, such as Charles Stanley or (cheap but a bit confusing) James Hay.


In our latest research, we awarded Gold Best Buys to 4 providers – AJ Bell Youinvest, Fidelity, Hargreaves Lansdown and Nutmeg. Our Silver Best Buys went to Ageon Retiready, Aviva, Barclays, MoneyFarm, TD Direct Investing and Wealthify. And our Bronze Best Buys to Standard Life and True Potential. Have a look at our criteria here.

Private pensions

Your pension might feel like a bit of a mess. With all that contracting in and out, moving jobs and other money pressures, it might feel a bit out of control. You’ve got bits and pieces all over the place, which may or may not add up to a decent retirement income, but you’re not quite sure. And how much do you actually need anyway? Help.

Boring Money’s Tips

  • Try and stash something away into a private pension if you can – for base rate tax payers, every £80 you stick in, you get £20 for free from the Government. It’s the best way to turbo charge your savings. Don’t be an Eeyore and assume it’s too late – something’s better than nothing
  • This will be locked away until you’re at least 55 though
  • Get a State Pension forecast – it’s quick and easy to do and gives you the starting point for working out how much you’ll have in retirement
  • By law your employer will need to offer you a pension at work over the next 18 months (if not already). You’ll see some of your salary siphoned into this – you can opt-out but it’s usually  bad ideas as you’ll forfeit contributions the Government and your boss have to make as well
  • If you’re not sure where to start, we think Aviva and Standard Life offer pretty good, online DIY pensions with an easy-to-follow online experience
  • Finally try and trace all your old pensions from work – it can be painful but contact your old employers and consider rolling it all into one place
  • Just be careful about doing this without financial advice – especially if it’s a final salary scheme or a ‘deferred benefit’ scheme – these can have good guarantees which you wont get matched anywhere else today

What are other readers asking?

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Important stuff!

Holly and the team have worked in the finance industry for many years but we are not regulated to give you personal financial advice, nor are we regulated by the industry watchdog (although we do talk to them a lot). For every story on this site about a good investment, or something which went up by 10% or made someone £200, we could share a story about a bad investment, something which fell by 10% or lost someone £200. Nothing’s certain when investing so if you’re really unsure, or dealing with complicated stuff like working out what to do with a pension when you retire, we’d really suggest you get some financial advice. Here are some tips on  how to pick a good financial adviser. Or check out Unbiased or VouchedFor. Just remember, commission has been banned now so advisers need to be very clear with you about what you are paying them and when.