What I have learnt from my sister's gasman NOT calling!

I recently telephoned my sister in London, only to find her downstairs with a telephone trying to take a meter reading from her gas meter. There was a little cursing going on, as she was trying to get out to go into town and she had been rung by the meter reading service to ask if she could take the reading and they would call back. Her lament was “what has happened to the gas man who used to call?”.

My sister is in her retirement years and it made me think about something that we are taking for granted more and more or that for things like meter readings and checking of bank accounts, we are now expected to do it ourselves. In the past doing it ourselves would have resulted in a discount. Nowadays not doing it ourselves, is likely to incur an extra charge.

That moved me on to think about my parents and aunts and uncles saying to me, many years ago now, “I don’t envy you kids having to deal with this faster pace of life”. For my mid-thirties children, they take for granted doing all these things digitally and online but for my generation, there is a yearning at least on some things, to have it done for us. For those lucky enough to have planned ahead then hopefully their retirement funds will allow them to be able to pay for these extra things which they used to enjoy.

What is inevitable is that the younger generation will, in time, also be hankering about “how things have changed”. Will they, indeed will you, have put enough aside for your retirement years that you will be able to afford these little extras?

It’s worth thinking about. Your delay in dealing with your financial future because you are too busy with today’s issues can come back to haunt you. You can however do something about it and the first st step might be to get better informed about your options. That is what I do at Making Money M`ake Sense. Simply provide you with Information which is relevant to you so that you can then make decisions as to whether to do it yourself or outsource some or all of it to help you start to build your financial future.
If you want to afford the little things in future years, pick up the phone and talk to me now. That will cost you nothing.

What I learnt from a Smurf in Trafalgar Square

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One of the pressures of being a business owner is getting the balance right between working in the business and working on the business. I am finding more and more that my clients and I are thinking about how they are  running their business for the benefit of them and their family. A trip to London recently really brought home the point about running an efficient business..

 

Pat and I had decided to go and see the theatre show, Warhorse. (If you have not seen it I would highly recommend it. Very different from the film. Quite brilliant).

 

After being dropped off, we had some time to walk around and eventually ended up eating a sandwich sitting on the low wall outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Suddenly, across the square comes a gentleman in a red and blue leather-like suit with a kitchen stool wrapped up in shiny plastic. He puts the stall down in the square takes a Smurf’s head from under his arm, plonks it on his own head and just sits there staring out towards the column.

 

My immediate reaction was what’s that dic**ead doing, surely he’s not expecting to raise any money for that? How wrong I was.

 

Within a few moments people were coming up to him and standing next to him whilst their friends took photographs. He of course was playing the field and waving to people and drawing both the adults and children to him.

 

I walked around to take my own photograph and noted that the money in his box was certainly way in excess of the minimum wage.

 

Now what we had here was a small business owner. He had minimal overheads, minimal responsibilities but had found a niche which attracted customers. He clearly knew what the market was and how to bring income into his business. Do we have such a clear idea of our market and our overheads?

 

If all of us are going to use our businesses to drive our future wealth which allows us to then live the life we want to live we have to do the same. For those of us who are expecting our business to provide our retirement income there is a good lesson to dwell on.

 

If you own adviser is not challenging you on these issues, perhaps we should chat.

 

Never say never- Twenty years and 42,000 thank you’s later

 

Our pension and savings plans have become even more critical as we live longer and healthier but unfortunately stories of bad selling advice and difficult markets have caused many to lose confidence. However, bad advice from 20 years ago may still be able to be put right.  We recently completed a successful claim for a client recovering over £42,000.

 

We had taken on a new client and as usual carried out a review of existing arrangements. It became clear that the pension plan had not been dealt with properly when the Government demanded that all personal pension transfers sold in the early 1990s should be reviewed.  Although it was way  out of time we were able to claim compensation to help put the client back in the position she should have been in.

 

This is unusual because of the timescale, but it should not be accepted that it is too late to do something.  It took us nearly one year and the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme) were not the easiest of organisations to deal with but ultimately  (and thoroughly) they got the job done

 

With the Government proposing to simplify the State Pension Scheme by paying a flat rate basic pension there is more emphasis on the public to sort out their savings for themselves and provide for what may well be long years in retirement. A combination of doing it yourself with information which is out there and taking advice and guidance on those bits you’re not sure about can be a good way of working towards an independent income.  And that is what we try to do at Making Money Make Sense.  In effect, help those who feel a bit lost in the world of savings and investment.

 

The message?  It’s never to late, but the earlier you start to get on top of your planning, the better.  Who is going to provide for you?  Only you!  Get started and take advice as necessary.

 

As our client said, –

Thank you Martin, 42,000 times.  Your experience and relaxed style has been a great asset to me.  I look forward to continuing to work with you.”

 

Property will be my pension! Well, don't be so sure!

Property will be my pension! Well, don’t be so sure!

 

A recent headline showed that “inflation wipes thousands of property values”.

 

For more years than I can remember I have met with clients who have said, “my property would be my pension plan”. Certainly historically we have seen some good results but we have to keep a perspective.

 

Analysis from LSL Property Services showed that house prices had increased by just 11% between 2006 and 2011. Not bad? However, inflation had increased by 17% over the same period. For some areas of the UK situation is far worse as prices have been fairly static since 2006 and verse a substantial loss has occurred, if only on paper.

 

The article quotes a homeowner in the North West who bought a property for £250,000 in 2006. In real terms that house has lost more than £42,500 since then because of the effects of inflation. Not a problem? I can wait it out?

 

Hopefully yes but think about the person who saw the property as their pension fund or possibly worse as the asset which was going to see them through long-term care. With long-term care fees being in the region between £35,000 and £50,000 a year (possibly higher) then in effect that sees their ability to fund long-term care fall from 5 years down to 4 years approximately. How would you feel if you have been relying on those proceeds to give you independence and have the realisation that you are having to sell, losing a 5th of what you had anticipated?

 

I’m sure there are very few of us who would not accept that property can be a good investment over the longer term but like all investments it needs to be monitored and balanced with other assets as well.

So, my message is.

Be careful about relying on just one investment area to help you towards your personal business plan to retirement. Particularly one, like property, which is not liquid.

 

You don’t have a Personal Business Plan for your retirement? …..We can help.

 

Enough is enough. We are taking to the streets

“Pensioners bear the brunt of rising cost of living”.

“One in three workers are without a pension”.

 

These are just two headlines in one newspaper (Daily Telegraph, 14th of September 2011).  There is so much coming at us from all areas of the media.  Yes it is grim but there is positive stuff that can be done.

We are fed up with it and are taking to the streets to show that there are things that can be done to try and keep our savings and investments on track and make the best of what we have.

Making Money Makes Sense will be in Southwell Market this Saturday 24th September to give people the chance to chat and ask questions about their pensions, savings, insurances and investments.

I know it’s tough but my experience is that so many people do not understand what they already have that they in effect sit on their hands rather than take action. It does not have to be this way. The flyer below gives full details and we hope to see some of you there.

 

 

Making Money Make Sense Financial Street Doctor

Drop-in at Southwell Market and ask us any question you like about your financial future.

Free Guidance and advice or just come and chat!

Are my savings actually doing anything for me?

What if I live too long?

Why is that man driving a Ferrari and I’m not?

Can my kids go to the school I want them to?

Can I holiday in the Maldives and not Mansfield…?

 

“There are loads of things that everyone can do to REALLY Change their future – but most people just don’t know what’s available so don’t do anything.” !

Martin Chapman- Making Money Make Sense

At Making Money Makes Sense we help you understand what you have in place at the moment – and what you could do to make your future even better and give you the tools to decide what to do next.

There is no such a thing as a silly question

( well there must be some – but we won’t laugh we promise!)

Come along and see us at the financial drop-in stall, Southwell Market, Saturday 24th of September. 9am – 3pm


Why do you continue to pay these charges?

Back from a weeks sailing off the West Coast of Scotland and I note that more fund managers are increasing the annual management charges they take from your investments, ISAs and pension plans. According to Lipper, the fund analysts, the average annual fee is now 1.7% per year. Yet, it is possible to achieve a fund charge of 0.5% or even less. On a mixture of investments and pension plans totalling, say, £100,000 this is a £1,200 per year saving.  Wouldn’t you prefer to retain that money within your investments to help them grow?

 

For about 0.8% you could have your investments and pensions watched over and have regular meetings to help you keep up-to-date. Yes, that’s right, for less than half the cost of the average fund charge above, you could “outsource” your financial planning yet be better organised than you are now.

 

In these days when every penny needs to count, what are you waiting for? The answer probably is that you’re so busy looking after your own business and your clients that you don’t have time for yourself and still don’t trust where you can go to get independent help.

 

Why not take a first step right now and go to www.makingmoneymakesense.co.uk. At least there you can look at the testimonials and see the range of people who have trusted us to help them change their future by taking control and getting organised.

 

When you’ve done that, why not give me a call on (07767) 450097. It costs you nothing but could change your life.

 

I look forward to chatting to you.

 

Chip shop owners, Taxi drivers, landladies and millionaires. Who is next?

What do the above have in common? They are amongst 500,000 already identified by the HMRC (Inland Revenue to you and I) with having money in offshore tax havens who can face severe penalties if they have used them to evade tax.

HMRC are using data-sharing, information from whistle blowers and and a new IT system which looks at anomalies between where people live, their financial assets and how much tax they pay to flag up potential tax dodgers.  It is confident it will raise  billions of pounds in unpaid tax and interest

They are quoted as saying that they are not out to victimise people but are determined to ensure they receive what they are owed.  “ This is not just about the very wealthy, we have  found chip shop owners, taxi drivers, landladies with offshore accounts”.

Be warned!

PS.  One wonders whether those who invest  offshore have used their onshore “tax havens’ to shelter their savings from tax!  Want to know more?   Contact us.

So where do you go to get good advice?

At a workshop I was running last week, we got onto the subject of trust within financial services and how one goes about finding an adviser. One of the attendees commented that he still felt comfortable using his bank for advice. This is good as one needs to be comfortable with one’s advisor.

 

Earlier this year, the  Personal Finance Editor of The Times was commenting on the massive fines imposed on Barclays bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland and spoke of the Barclays “Branches as little more than sales operations staffed by underpaid, ill-informed and commission hungry school leavers”. Probably a little harsh.

 

Here we have two different perspectives. So where do you go to get good advice.

 

As you would expect, there is no easy solution as the relationship you build up with your advisor may last many years and in my own experience people rely on that adviser to keep them up to date and abreast of their affairs. All advisers have required formal qualifications since the early 90s and these are currently being reviewed to an even higher standard. In the meantime, as with other professionals, advises are involved in a rolling process of continued professional development.

 

Experience is important and, in my own opinion, the ability to communicate clearly and make things simple for the client is of paramount importance. No matter how good technically you are if you cannot put the point over in a way that the client understands then they are going to be confused and possibly worried about their financial situation.

 

At Making Money Make Sense, we have a passionate belief that pensions, investments, savings, Wills and trusts etc do not have to be overly complicated from the client viewpoint. It is the adviser’s role to understand the complications and help the client to work through them. If that is not happening, then perhaps you should not be paying him or her.

 

With regard to building trust for new clients, then we offer a taster service for a fixed fee and with no ongoing obligation (on either part). It allows us to do some real work for you the client and allows you to get some real benefit whilst at the same time also seeing how we go about carrying out that work.

 

If you want more information about this ring Martin on (07767) 450097. The only thing we ask is that if you do not feel it has been worth it do tell us and if you do feel it has been worth it then perhaps you will consider referring us to others.

 

Living together is not the same thing as marriage!

I make no apologies for using the headline from the Comment in the Daily telegraph on 4th February.  I come across too many heterosexual couples who are living together and have been for years, yet do not realise that they have no rights over each others  estates.  Fine, if your are married or have a registered Civil Partnership, the law provides a  certain level of protection but the boy/girl living together has no such protection.  Nor does gay or lesbian couples sharing a home and a life, if they have not registered their partnership.

 

It does not matter how long you have lived together,  if you do not have a Will your partner will not inherit from you and you have no right to maintenance or a share of the house or pension if you split up.  You are not exempt from Inheritance Tax and some partners have had to sell their  home to pay this tax after their partner has died.  You may be “as good as married” but as far as the law is concerned you are just flatmates!  There are things that can be done to improve the situation and lead amongst them is to have a Will.

 

Perhaps even more importantly, the act of making a Will will cause  things to be discussed.  For those of you who watched the Gerry Robinson programme “ You can’t take it with you”, you will have seen that many families have issues which can be awkward to deal with but often working with an adviser can help answer some of the queries you have and the options explained to you so that you make informed decisions.

 

If you would like to know more email us on martin@makingmoneymakesense.co.uk and we will send you some further information which will help you to start to consider the issues in great detail.

 

Being confused and fearful about taking action is not the answer.  Gather better information.  We can help.