We can’t claim this is as good as your very own financial adviser, but it will walk you through some basic financial planning and set you on the right path. If you have an adviser, it will help you use their time more productively on important stuff; if you don’t, it will get your finances to a point where you can, mostly, put your feet up knowing that the basics are done.
At Boring Money, we like to ‘eat our own lunch’, so I gave it a try. It asks six straightforward questions on the basics of financial planning.
The first is on debt. Here, I felt quite saintly. I have debt, of course, but it’s generally not expensive and I’ve usually got a plan as to how I’m going to pay it off. Women my age usually have over £2,000 on their credit cards, apparently. Paying that off should always be the number one priority – the quiz results page will give some advice on this.
Do I have three months expenses in cash? Hmmm, here I’m not so saintly. 22% of women in their 40s have over £5,000 in cash savings. I’m not one of them. I either spend what I earn or it goes into a stocks and shares ISA. I realise the limitations of this, particularly if I were to lose my job. Point noted. 3 months in cash can feel insurmountable – so I’m going to aim for one, to start with.
On wills and life insurance, I can reclaim my halo. I’ve done both; they’re checked regularly. No flies on me. I was a little surprised that only around a third of women have life insurance, and about the same have a will. Both are really, really easy to set up – the results page gives clear instructions if you haven’t already done this.
Workplace pension provision has improved exponentially with the advent of auto-enrolment. 51% of British women in their 40s now have a workplace pension and provision is expanding all the time. It’s difficult to see this as anything other than very good news. For a small contribution, you basically get free money from your employer and the State. Sadly, I am self-employed so don’t have a workplace pension, but I do have a personal pension, and the results give me some options for this.
I’m shocked to learn that just 12% of British women in their 40s have a Stocks and Shares ISA. I love my ISA, but that may be because it’s been a great time to be a stock market investor. That’s partly why I have nothing in cash. I’m always thinking my money could be working harder so it ends up in my ISA. This prejudice, I realise, may need to be examined. I’ve now got a few ideas about how I could rearrange where my money sits and which ISA provider I could look at next.
What did I learn? Unlike most people who tend to be too cautious, I’m a bit too gung-ho with my finances, and need to work on building up a cash pot. It’s all very well drifting along thinking nothing will happen, but the workplace is a fickle environment. I like the step by step nature of the results, it’s all easy to follow and I like that I can do it in my own time.