Holly's Blog: 8 finance tips from Game of Thrones
11 July, 2017
With apologies to people who don't watch Game of Thrones... this week is a shameless piece of indulgence. If the hit (and hot) show has taught us anything, it’s the value of a good life insurance policy. But were there other pearls of financial wisdom amid all the gore and adultery, I wondered? [Warning - if you like your finance sterile and polite, look away now!]
1. "A Lannister always pays his debts." Tyrion Lannister
OK so this has lost its charm since Mastercard hogged the line for ads but let's run with it. It may not have been what they had in mind when they developed their family motto. The clarion call of the Lannisters was probably instrumental in helping them become the richest house in the land. Not paying off credit card debt is a key mistake many of us make. Try and diarise this regularly.
And listen up, Tyrion. Not all debts are bad. Paying off student debt early is not always a good idea and these days mortgages are cheap. If Casterly Rock were mortgaged and he felt like a bit of certainty, we’d suggest he should be checking out the latest fixed-term rates and just re-visiting what he's paying today.
2. "A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I'm going home." Arya Stark
If she gets a second amidst the revenge killing, Arya should make sure she has the right currency with her before travelling. Rather than leave this until the last minute she should get a specialist pre-paid credit card. Or check out new players Revolut or Monzo. If you only have a few days to go, at least order a currency delivery from the Post Office online.
3. "The things I do for love." Jaime Lannister
Not only has following his heart led Jaime into an extremely ill-advised relationship with his twin sister, following your heart is also a really bad way to manage your money. It can lead to all sorts of financial bad behaviour: following the herd and investing in the stock market when it is at its most expensive, selling when it’s at its cheapest or making impulsive purchases.
Cold rationality, such as that employed by Tywin Lannister, is far more likely to deliver good returns over time. Consider setting up a direct debit into a savings account – make it mechanical. Or new app Moneybox will round up your loose change and invest the balance.
4. "Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder." Littlefinger
Financial matters can seem pretty chaotic at times. Sorting them out will not happen instantly. So think of the money to-do list like a gradual ladder rather than a depressing pit.
Very small changes can make a real difference - diverting £50 a month into a stocks and shares ISA each month can make sure that you have a little cash set aside for ‘when winter comes’ (or when the roof falls in, if you are living in Winchester, not Winterfell). Our Best Buys (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/best-buys/stocks-shares-isas/) are AJ Bell Youinvest, Charles Stanley Direct, Hargreaves Lansdown and Nutmeg.
5. "You know nothing, Jon Snow." Ygritte
Again, probably not how Ygritte intended it, but quite a good thing for Jon Snow to remember the next time he turns to stock market investment. Don’t be forever wheeling and dealing – it just adds cost and it seldom works. The best thing to do is invest regularly, and then leave it well alone. Low-cost US giant Vanguard is a nice option for those that know nothing. Pick a LifeStrategy fund for a readymade sensible option. A much safer option than a future dalliance with Daenarys.
6. "You’re no son of mine." Tywin Lannister
Be nice to your parents! Admittedly Tywin Lannister hasn’t been the best Dad to young Tyrion. Calling Shae a ‘whore’ was inflammatory for example, but often parents are the best chance you’ve got of getting on the housing ladder. If you don’t get on with ‘the olds’ then read up on Lifetime ISAs (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/learn/investing-guides/product-guides/lifetime-isa/) and Help to Buy ISAs (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/learn-section/other-isas/) to buy your castle or listen to our 10 minute audio guide (https://soundcloud.com/user-180368339/audio-guide-holly-georgie-discuss-help-to-buy-versus-lifetime-isa). And parents - Junior ISAs (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/learn/junior-isas/) are a great way to save for kids if they're not the sort to plan your early demise. Charles Stanley (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/best-buys/junior-isas/charles-stanley-direct-junior-isa/) are popular with users and low-cost. Hargreaves Lansdown (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/best-buys/junior-isas/hargreaves-lansdown-junior-isa/) is a big safe option.
7. "This is not the day that I die." Oberyn Martell
SPOILER ALERT …oh yes it was! Even though we’ve largely done away with pestilence and fighting with swords, there are risks in life and it is worth ensuring that your family is well-provided for in the event of illness, redundancy or worse. Who would pay the mortgage if anything happened to you? A healthy 40 -something can get life insurance for £100k from about £10 a month. Online.
8. “I would like to die in my own bed, with a belly full of wine and a [whatsy] around my [whatsy], at the age of eighty.” Tyrion Lannister
Rude! We can’t find any pensions providers who will promise that although it would certainly solve the Pension Minister's concerns about how to get Brits saving. However with pensions freedoms (https://soundcloud.com/user-180368339/pensions-freedoms) we do have more choice than ever. How much you take in cash from 55 is up to you. 25% of it will be tax free. But do think very carefully before taking it all out in one hit – that could incur an unnecessarily large tax bill as your annual income goes through the roof. And sticking it all in the bank (as many are doing) will seldom be the best solution. This money has to last you a (hopefully) long time and so-called ‘drawdown’ gives you the chance to take out a smidge at a time and keep the balance invested.
The bets are on about whether Jon Snow gets it on with Daenarys... I'm tipping NOT :0)
Read next: Which robo adviser performed the best? Our Q2 2018 update (https://www.boringmoney.co.uk/learn/articles/which-robo-adviser-performed-the-best-our-q2-results-update/)