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financial planning in your forties

It’s well known life begins at forty. Doesn’t it?

It should be an exciting decade, full of plans and aspirations. It’s also likely to be a time of optimum earning potential.

What’s more, it’s a crucial decade to take a step back and make sure your finances are on track to meet your goals.

There’ll be some decisions you’ll already have taken in your twenties or thirties, which will have had an impact. You may have bought your own home, for example, or put some savings away in cash, investments or pensions.

If things don’t look quite as rosy as you’d hoped, though, your forties are a good time to take stock, as there’s still time to make adjustments and give your investments time to grow.

Don’t forget, whatever savings you can make now will enable you to pursue your dreams later on.

Here are four key tips for shrewd financial planning at this important time of life.

Budget ruthlessly

Just because life may feel comfortable with regular pay rises and bonuses don’t fall into the temptation of spending more than you need. Do you really need that Costa coffee or M&S lunch every day?

Apps like Money Dashboard or Moneyhub can be helpful in showing you where your money’s going. Simple steps like cancelling subscriptions or switching bill providers can make a significant difference.

Historic studies show that investments usually outperform cash savings so any disposable income you can invest will be beneficial. If you can put money aside in a pension you’ll also be taking advantage of the tax relief available. Make sure you use your ISA allowance too for more accessible funds.

Carry out a protection audit

Think about what if the unexpected happened. Your forties are a time of life where you may find yourself part of what’s known as ‘the sandwich generation’ i.e. caring for elderly parents at the same time as looking after young children. This can put extra pressure on you. Make sure you’re protected should the worst happen by ensuring you have a good emergency fund in place. Also think about critical illness cover and life insurance.

Property plans

Your home will be a fundamental part of your financial planning at this time of life. If you feel you need a larger property, these are likely to be your peak earning years so now is the time to secure the best mortgage you can and find your dream home. On the other hand, if you’re quite happy where you are, it may be a good time to remortgage to get a better deal.

Family spending

Everyone’s situation is different. You may have children at university or you may still be having to pay for nursery fees. Whatever your position, make sure you budget accordingly and allow for inflation, especially if you’re paying private school fees. Work out the priorities for your family – the best education now or a house deposit in the future. It’s important not to derail your own life savings for the sake of your children as no one will benefit in the long run.

By doing some sound financial planning now, you’ll have more hope of continuing in the style you want to live, well beyond your forties.

Sources
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/smart-life-saving-for-the-future/financial-advice-in-your-forties/?utm_campaign=tmgspk_plr_2144_AqvZbbk8gXHK&plr=1&utm_content=2144&utm_source=tmgspk&WT.mc_id=tmgspk_plr_2144_AqvZbbk8gXHK&utm_medi

interest rate rise: what does this mean?

goldfish jumping from small bowl to big bowlThe Bank of England has raised interest rates from 0.5% to 0.75%, only the second rise in a decade. Currently, interest rates stand at their highest since 2009 and reflect what the Bank of England perceive as a general pick-up in the economy.

The Bank said that a rise in household spending has strengthened the British economy. Economic growth for the year is predicted to be 1.4% this year and the unemployment rate is expected to fall further below 4.2%, where it currently stands.

How does the rise affect you?
If you are on a variable rate ‘tracker’ mortgage, your repayments will increase. For example, if you have a £100,000 mortgage, this will add £12 to your monthly repayments.

It’s important to highlight that if you are on a fixed rate mortgage, your payments will stay the same until your base rate comes up for renewal. The Bank of England’s announcement does not mean that your rates immediately rise.

For prospective borrowers, the interest rate rise signals a change in the Bank of England’s tone. Further rate rises are a definite possibility. However, the Bank’s governor took a rather cautious tone which indicates that there are unlikely to be any more rises until 2019.

For the time being, base rates on mortgages are unlikely to rise above 3%. That said, the demand for rate fixes will be higher than usual this year.

Unfortunately for those of you going on holiday, after the announcement the pound fell by 0.9% against the dollar. This is due to the extreme political uncertainty surrounding the sterling with Brexit taking an unchartable track.

Reactions from U.K. businesses have been a mixed bag. The Institute of Directors, which represents about 30,000 members in the U.K., has said, ‘the Bank has jumped the gun’, whilst the British Chamber of Commerce similarly described the decision as ‘ill-judged’ at an uncertain time.

This negative perspective wasn’t unanimous among all lobbying groups. The Confederation of British Industry, the country’s biggest business lobby, welcomed the rise saying the case for higher rates had been building.

A small rise of 0.25% is likely to have a minimal impact on your finances. However, larger hikes down the line could have a substantial effect on the British financial landscape.

Sources
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-02/pound-fails-to-shake-off-blues-despite-unanimous-boe-rate-hike
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/aug/02/how-will-interest-rate-rise-affect-mortgages-savings-and-property
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-02/-mark-carney-what-have-you-done-cry-u-k-business-bodies?utm_source=google&utm_medium=bd&cmpId=google

over 60s are jumping off the property ladder. Here’s why….

In 2007, there were 254,000 older people living in private rented accomodation. According to research by the Centre for Ageing Better, over the last decade that figure has skyrocketed to 414,000. If things continue the way they’re going, they estimate that over a third of those over 60 will be privately renting by 2040.

So why the shift? Renting comes with some clear benefits. Having to pay stamp duty becomes a thing of the past, as does worrying about managing property maintenance. A certain sense of freedom comes with renting too, particularly in terms of location. It’s a great opportunity to finally live on the coastline or in the city centre that you’ve always wanted to, but have not been able to afford to.

For example, one couple had previously owned a retirement flat in Torquay which they subsequently sold for £55,000. They dreamed of moving to Bournemouth, where a modest one bed apartment would have set them back closer to £150,000 and so was out of their reach. They found a home to let on an assured tenancy, allowing them to remain in the property for life for a fee of £775 a month including service charges. Selling to rent has allowed them to liquidate their biggest asset, and free up their capital to spend on travel.

Renting needn’t be forever, and for some people it’s a great opportunity to stop and think about your next move. It can give you time to really look at the options out there if you intend to get back on the housing ladder. Your requirements will change as you grow older and downsizing can be a great idea for some. Before you find the perfect property which will suit your needs going forward, renting gives you the chance to release some capital and decide what to do with it.

It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that by selling up and moving into private rented accommodation, your estate could receive a higher IHT bill. The inheritance tax exemption introduced in 2017 allows parents and grandparents an additional IHT allowance when their children or grandchildren inherit their main home, and so selling your home could remove your eligibility for the exemption.https://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/retirement/renting-retirement-over-60s-jumping-property-ladder/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/financial-services/retirement-solutions/equity-release-service/should-you-sell-up-and-rent-in-retirement/

Is the bank of mum and dad ‘feeling the pinch’?

The bank of Mum and Dad’ will lend enough money to the next generation of UK homeowners in 2018 to make it the equivalent of a top 10 Mortgage Lender. With £5.7bn expected to be handed over to help family members get a foot on the property ladder this year, you could be excused for thinking that things were on the up. Everything is relative, however, and when compared to 2017’s enormous lending figures of £6.5bn, the numbers tell a different story.

L&G are still expecting more than a quarter of home buyers to be getting financial assistance from relatives, with the amount actually seeing a small increase from 25% to 27%. So with close to 317,000 housing transactions expected to take place with parental help this year, how do we account for the £800m drop in lending?

The short answer is that, due to the current position of the economy as a whole, people are feeling the pinch. Although the sheer volume of individual transactions is increasing, the amount lenders are able to provide is going in the opposite direction. In 2017, the average contribution was £21,600, in 2018 that figure is expected to be down 17% at £18,000.

Interestingly, although unsurprisingly, this is a regional phenomenon, with a higher percentage of buyers in London (41%) receiving help from their relatives.The age of the buyer also affects the likelihood of lending, but by no means is it exclusive to younger buyers. Three in five under-35s are expected to receive help, but so are 20% of those between the ages of 45 and 55.

We’re also seeing a growing trend of parents ‘gifting’ their children money that they would otherwise have received years later through inheritance. Not only does this make the money less likely to be liable to inheritance tax, it also means that the buyer can get on the property ladder earlier and thus avoid future increases in house prices. For many in financially comfortable positions, this may well be an avenue worth considering.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44283507
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37220688

where did house prices increase and decrease the fastest in the UK in 2017?

Research into the housing market throughout 2017 has revealed the areas of the UK where property prices increased and decreased the most last year. Cheltenham in Gloucestershire was the place where prices grew at the fastest pace, with the average price of £313,150 marking a 13% rise – nearly five times the UK average increase of 2.7%. At the other end of the scale was the Scottish town of Perth, where prices dropped by 5.3% to make the average property price tag £180,687.

The places which saw the biggest growth were in southern England, with Bournemouth and Brighton coming in second and third place with rises of 11.7% and 11.4% respectively. At the other end of the scale, Scotland, Yorkshire and the Humber were the areas where the biggest falls were seen. The second-biggest fall in house prices was seen in Stoke-on-Trent (4%), with Paisley in third position (3.6%).

Fifteen out of the top twenty areas for house price increases are located in London and southern England. This is in spite of the capital overall seeing its average house price fall by 0.5%, thanks to the economy slowing down and consumers continuing to feel the effects following the Brexit vote of 2016.

The outlook for the year ahead offers little reprieve: many in the property sector, including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, predict that the market in 2018 will, for the most part, remain flat, with some expecting property price growth to slow even further. Whilst this would be good news for those looking to take their first steps onto the property ladder, it’s more worrying news for people hoping to invest in the market.

It’s expected that the story will differ geographically, but property portal Rightmove has also predicted that different property types are likely to grow at different rates. They have forecast prices for homes with two bedrooms or fewer will rise by 3%, whilst three and four bedroom homes will see growth of only 2%.
Sources
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42539137
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-house-price-increases-biggest-2017-cheltenham-bournemouth-brighton-london-housing-market-david-a8137366.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42555351

what does the first interest rate rise in ten years mean for you?

After months of speculation, the Bank of England finally raised interest rates in the UK for the first time in over a decade. The increase from 0.25% to 0.5% might seem small, especially when you consider that the last time the interest rate was increased in July 2007 it was up to 5.75%, but the fact that interest rates are going up at all after more than ten years at rock bottom is significant.

The rates rise will have an impact on the finances of millions of people in the UK, with those on variable rate mortgages likely to lose out the most. 46% of households with a mortgage are on either a standard variable or tracker rate, which are likely to move at the same time as the official bank rate.

These mortgages have an average of £89,000 left to pay off, resulting in a monthly payment increase of around £12. Those with higher variable rate mortgages will of course see their outgoings increase by a higher amount: payments on a £300,000 mortgage will go up by about £39 a month. Homeowners with fixed rate mortgages meanwhile can expect their payments to remain the same for some time following the interest rate lift, as can those with loans and credit cards to pay off.

Savers are likely to benefit from the rates increase having seen little growth on their savings for a number of years. On average, an easy-access savings account currently pays interest at 0.14% annually, meaning that £10,000 worth of savings would generate just £14 every year. If providers choose to pass on the rates rise in full, this will add another £25 to earn £39 annually. A typical ISA meanwhile will see the annual growth of £10,000 increase from £30 to £55.

Pensioners who have purchased an annuity can also expect to benefit from the rates rise. Annuities follow the yields on gilts, or long-dated government bonds. In anticipation of a rates rise, these have also increased, meaning those purchasing an annuity for retirement will receive better value for money on their investment. In November 2016, a joint annuity bought for £100,000 would receive an annual income of £4,086. That figure has risen this month to £4,468 and could continue to go up depending on how likely further base rate increases are – something which the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has indicated is likely over the next few years.

Sources
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41846330
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41831777
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/special-reports/will-happen-investments-interest-rates-rise/

is buy-to-let no longer such a good deal?

It wasn’t all that long ago that investment in buy-to-let property was seen as a straightforward way to generate an income for yourself. However, recent changes made by the government mean that turning a profit through buy-to-let in today’s property market is set to become much more difficult. Each case is individual, and the profitability of a property isn’t as simple as looking at the price of the property and the amount of rent it generates each month, but for many, buy-to-let will soon no longer be the attractive investment opportunity it once was. So what has changed?

From the start of April 2017, the amount of tax relief that can be claimed by a landlord on the interest on their buy-to-let mortgage has fallen. Higher rate taxpayers used to be able to offset all of their mortgage interest against their rental income before they calculated how much tax they owed, but this year they will only be able to offset 75% of the interest. This percentage is then set to reduce again to 50% in 2018 and 25% in 2019. No interest at all will be eligible to be offset in 2020, with a 20% tax credit being introduced instead.

Not only does this mean that investors are set to face growing tax bills over the next few years, even if their income has not increased, but it also means that some taxpayers currently on the basic rate will be pushed into the higher rate tax bracket when their rental income is taken into account. It will also have an impact on means-tested benefits, with some set to lose out on these through the new system.

For existing landlords, there are options to soften the blow of the new tax arrangements. Some buy-to-let owners, particularly those in the priciest areas of the country, such as London, are selling their properties in order to reinvest in multiple properties elsewhere. As companies are not subject to the new tax laws, purchasing these properties through a company will prove to be a better choice financially even taking into account potential capital gains tax.

As residential mortgages are usually at a lower rate than buy-to-let mortgages, another option for landlords is to remortgage their main residence and use the money raised to reduce their buy-to-let mortgage. A buy-to-let offset mortgage is also possible, although this option will only be open to those who meet the eligibility criteria. However, the option that around two thirds of landlords have said they plan to go for is raising rent, with the average increase expected to be between 20% and 30%.

Sources
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/buytolet/article-4313456/Where-invest-buy-let-yield-beat-tax-hike.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/investing/buy-to-let/new-buy-to-let-tax-works-andhow-beat/

house prices to slump in 2017?

Recent figures suggest that house prices are set to slow during 2017. Property prices grew by 5.7% in the year to the end of January, slower than the annual growth of 6.5% in the previous month.

In January, the average UK home was valued at £220,260. Whilst prices in the three months to the end of January were higher than in the previous three months, the figures show that in comparison to the same period one year before, growth was beginning to slow, coming in considerably lower than the 10% peak of March 2016. In fact, compared to December 2016, prices in January 2017 dropped by 0.9%. The figures mean that the property industry now has a decidedly mixed outlook for the year ahead.

“January is always a lethargic month for UK property as a result of the Christmas break”, said founder of eMoov.co.uk Russell Quirk, “and so any fall in house prices at this time of year should be taken with a pinch of salt, rather than a handful of panic. Had any other market around the world been subject to such a sustained period of scaremongering and uncertainty amongst buyer and seller as the UK market has in the last year, I expect it would be a different story to the one we are seeing here.”

However, some estate agents have warned that concerns over rising inflation and the effect it will have on both interest rates and general living costs are impacting upon the decisions the UK public is making regarding buying and selling property. There are also worries over the tightening of mortgage criteria, as well as the focus on affordability.

Whilst prices have been kept up by both lower rates of interest and the relatively small number of houses on the market, other factors will work to slow price growth throughout this year. These are likely to include the weakening of economic growth, the increasing pressure felt on spending power and restrictions to affordability, making the outlook for the property market in 2017 considerably uncertain.

Sources
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38891777

 

Keeping one eye on a 2015 interest rate rise

It is now six years since emergency measures were put in place to protect the global financial markets from imploding when the banking crisis spiked in 2008. To stave off a liquidity disaster, many global policy makers decided to cut interest rates to record low levels.

At that juncture most experts, commentators and the investment community assumed this would be a short term effort; an emergency measure, maybe lasting months, if not months then just a year or two. Virtually no one could see interest rates remaining so low for so long.

We have been waiting for a reversion to the mean ever since; surely, normal interest rates have to come back into play at some point. However, this begs many questions: what is a normal rate of interest? Are we still, in effect, in the aftermath of the banking crisis, with limited, real corrections to market conditions yet to come? Aren’t governments still as indebted (if not more?) than they were in 2008? Is a secondary banking crisis, or crash, a possibility?

Put another way, have those “temporary” emergency measures done nothing more than put some difficult decisions out into the long grass? And was the 2008 crisis actually a multi-year one, which could drag for years to come from here?

There is a simple premise here to consider… maybe nobody knows the answers! In the past few weeks, oil prices have tumbled; falling at the time of writing to around $80. Just a few weeks ago, the consensus of the major oil analysts was that the short term outlook for oil was in the range of $100-$110. Even those people whose job it is to sit behind a desk and study the fundamentals couldn’t see the fall that has taken place.

Markets and market prices are notoriously unpredictable and are virtually uncontrollable (over time). Interest rates are no exception. Central bankers and governments cannot ultimately control interest rates; they can and do control them to a point and most certainly for a time but as John Major found out in the early 1990s, if markets dictate then governments can get caught out. This lesson is found time and time again in the history of markets.

Market conditions have been perfect for central bankers to maintain low base rates; most notably the lack of any inflationary pressure has taken away the one economic condition that would force interest rates higher.

As we enter 2015 there is little doubt that the consensus is to stick with low interest rates and to try and maintain the wider UK economic recovery, which seems fragile at best. It is likely therefore that we will see more of the same for some time to come. But watch out for any sign that inflation is starting to take hold; as any sailor will tell you, a storm can appear more quickly than you can move your boat and so it is with inflation – it can rise from seemingly nowhere. Any signs that inflation may be rising would suggest that policymakers would have no option but to start increasing rates and this could happen far quicker than anyone may realise.

The message here? Make sure your financial planning is structured to cater for the unexpected.

 

building your financial future

The first nine months of Help To Buy

The Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme opened on 8th October 2013 and has since been available across the United Kingdom. Under the scheme, the government offers lenders the option to purchase a guarantee on mortgage loans where the borrower has a deposit of between 5% and 20%. The scheme can be used for mortgages on both new build and existing homes, by first time buyers, home movers and those remortgaging.

In order to qualify for a loan supported by the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, there are a number of eligibility criteria which are set out in the scheme rules.

The guarantee compensates participating mortgage lenders for a portion of net losses suffered in the event of repossession. The guarantee applies down to 80% of the purchase value of the guaranteed property covering 95% of these net losses. The lender therefore retains a 5% risk in the portion of losses covered by the guarantee. This ensures that the lender retains some risk in every mortgage originated.

In the first 9 months of the Help to Buy scheme:

  • 18,564 mortgages were completed with the support of the scheme. Of these, 79% were purchases by first time buyers.
  • The total value of mortgages supported by the scheme was £2.7 billion.
  • The mean value of a property purchased or re-mortgaged through the scheme is £153,148, compared to a national average house price of £265,000.

Mortgage completions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland accounted for 19% of the total. In Scotland and Wales the number of mortgage completions with the support of the scheme was proportionally higher than in the UK as whole, when compared to total mortgage completions. Completions with the support of the mortgage guarantee scheme in Northern Ireland made up 1% of total UK completions supported by the scheme.

Mortgage guarantee completions in England were proportionally lower, with 81% ofcompletions compared to an 86% share of overall UK residential mortgage completions.

At a regional level, a higher proportion of mortgages were supported by the scheme in the East and North West. London and the South East accounted for 19% of all completions supported by the scheme.


Sources: www.gov.uk (Quarterly Statistics – October 2013 to June 2014

 

 

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