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changing the way you think about 
Eighteen years ago today, on April 9th , my father died. My brother Simon, my mother and myself stood at his bedside in Intensive Care as his breathing faded. I remember the moment clearly.
 
I have talked about my father's death before and how it has helped me to understand why my work as a financial planner matters so much. Earlier today walking down a street on paving slabs made shiny by April showers, I remember he used to make concrete slabs at a yard in Walsall. This is a man in his late fifties with a heart condition who spent his working days lifting concrete slabs on and off a truck. On and off. Over and over.
 
I have a black and white photograph of him on my office wall standing in his yard. Looking straight into the camera, a benign stare as he waits for me, a photography student, to take the picture. It is one of my treasured possessions.  He was always working. Even when he was not at work, he was digging the garden, replacing the engine in my Mum's Mini or building a gazebo. He never stopped.
 
Talking to a friend about this she told me how lucky she felt to have parents who taught her how to work. She complained bitterly as a teenager that she was always expected to help out in the family business at week-ends, while her friends were off playing. Now in her early forties she is grateful to her parents for teaching her the habit of working. It has served her well helping her to be fearless and competent as she starts her own business, whilst being a Mum and running a home. Work provides her with financial security and satisfaction from doing a job well.
 
My Dad has inculcated that work habit into me and I too am grateful. Other than the fact that my children are no longer children I could not have predicted any of the things that have happened to me over the last eighteen years. The real benefit of financial planning is about planning for an unknown and uncertain future. As John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.”
 
The paradox is that without a plan we are tossed hither and thither with no sense of direction, no insight and no goal to strive towards. It's the striving that makes it all worthwhile. My Dad never recognised the moment to stop striving, he never had a plan to arrive. I see men and women striving upwards and onwards with no plan. It can  only end in exhaustion and disappointment. This three minute video tells my Dad's story.
 
Have you a plan for your future? Do you know when to stop striving? How do you know if you've arrived at your goal?
 
If you would like to spend an hour with Nicholas at his expense to discover how financial life planning may be able to help you, drop him a line at nlee@demontfort.biz or call 07725 784348

I_want_thatEveryone knows that money can't buy you happiness... right? Obvious! The evidence is overwhelming – lottery winners who end up in a dreadful mess despite their millions, successful businessmen and women with divorces and strained relationships despite their wealth and success... the list goes on.
 
In my experience the opposite is also true. Lack of money is equally debilitating – too much month at the end of the money, rising credit card debt, a mortgage that never seems to diminish. This leads to a corrosive sense of hopelessness which looks and feels very much like despair. Most of us have had an experience of this at some time in our lives – and none of us want to go back there.
 
Where is the balance? This is a personal challenge for all of us because there is no 'one size fits all' answer... Here are some thoughts in no particular order.
 
  • First thing is to accept the importance of money in our lives – and not ignore it, avoid it or somehow imagine it will take care of itself. It won't – trust me. Getting a grip on your finances takes time and effort.
 
  • Second, we need to acknowledge that we live in a consumerist society. There is a whole industry dedicated to creating desire and they know how to do it very well. To imagine that we are somehow immune to their clever, subliminal blandishments is naïve. We all believe that a Rolex watch, a BMW motorcar or a detached house defines our success. Just pick your example – it may not be watches or cars or houses for you…but I bet it's something that somehow enhances your sense of self. It might be qualifications conferring status. Be honest with yourself...
 
  • Third, we need to ask ourselves the right kind of questions. What makes us happy? When do we feel most at ease and relaxed? Answering these questions honestly requires courage – we have all been subjected to conditioning, so don't take your first answer as the best one. Think of a time when you felt happy – where were you, who were you with, what were you doing? These answers will give you valuable clues about to what really matters to you.
 
  • Fourth, start thinking about how you might do some more of that. Ignore the rational excuses for now – haven't got time, need to pay off the mortgage first etc. etc. Allow yourself to dream just enough to begin to sense what freedom might feel like. This is the beginning of thinking for ourselves and creating our world, not one that has been sold to us by advertisers.
 
Most of us won't do this. It's challenging and time consuming and, in my experience, we need help to get started and maintain momentum. I have two suggestions: Read 'Your Money or your Life' by Vicki Robin & Joe Dominguez (http://goo.gl/m3g9iM) and follow the 9 Steps. This will help you to understand the single most important concept in personal financial planning: our most valuable resource is time, not money. Once we understand and act on that truth the way forward becomes much clearer. And find a financial planner you can trust and work with them. We all need guidance with this, very few of us manage it alone.
 
If you would like to spend an hour with Nicholas at his expense to discover how financial life planning may be able to help you, drop him a line at nlee@demontfort.biz or call 07725 784348. More information at www.financiallifeplans.co.uk
Home_Sweet_HomeThe British have a unique and deeply neurotic relationship with property, houses especially, places we call home. We are a nation of homeowners. When house prices are rising we feel good. We feel successful. Even if our incomes do not quite meet our expectations, we comfort ourselves with the thought that we've always got 'the house' to fall back on.
 
Enabled by the massive expansion of funding from the banks and building societies in the eighties and nineties, millions of us have played snakes and ladders with the property market. For many of us it has been a saviour – rising prices have allowed us to move up the ladder and create wealth for ourselves and our children.
 
Consider these facts:
 
  • The average asking price of a home in England and Wales has broken the £300,000* barrier for the first time.
  • This means that house prices have increased by 50 per cent in a decade, far outstripping the 22 per cent rise in average wage growth over the same period.
  • The average asking price for first-time buyers rose 9.6 per cent to £185,612 in England and Wales
  • Research by Emoov showed that owning a house near a Waitrose store increases the value by an average of 6 per cent.
 
Those of us that got on the ladder twenty or more years ago buying a family home near good schools (and ideally a branch of Waitrose) and paid off our mortgage every month are sitting on a very tidy profit. We feel safe. Many of us consider it to be our best investment ever – far better than those pesky unit trusts and shares that keep going up and down. Provided we have the foresight  to 'downsize' at the right time (before we get too old to manage it) we have won the property game.
 
For the rest of us the picture is not so rosy. For many baby boomers who bought property in the early 2000s using a self-certifying mortgage (the lender didn't need proof of income) on an interest only basis (no repayment of the capital) the story is not so good. Many will have dipped into negative equity during the recession, waiting with bated breath for a rise in house prices to do its magic. Now they find themselves with a huge mortgage and the price rise has come, but not enough to enable them to downsize comfortably. They are stuck.
 
Not enough equity in their current property is compounded by the fact that, in their sixties, their earning capacity has diminished and they are unlikely to get a mortgage. And they are tired. What was a challenge in our forties becomes a trial in our sixties. We have to call on reserves of willpower and determination. We have to accept our mistakes and find a way forward. One thing is certain: in our sixties there is no room for error. The next move needs to be the right one.
 
If you find yourself in this situation and are not sure what to do next...
 
Perhaps spend an hour with Nicholas at his expense to discover if financial planning can be helpful. Drop him a line at nlee@demontfort.biz or call 07725 784348. More information at www.financiallifeplans.co.uk
 
* Index compiled by Rightmove from the asking prices of properties coming on the market from 13,000 estate agency branches listed on its website.
Being a child of the fifties I pretty much missed the 'Summer of Love'. I was twelve at the time (1967) and 'free love' was a vague (although appealing) concept to me. Reading that question right now I am embarrassed, I'd prefer not to get into that question. Let me re-phrase that: I'm not going to get into that discussion.Money_Talk
 
Turns out I am in the minority. Research conducted by University College London with 15,000 men and women found them SEVEN more times likely to discuss whether or not they'd had an affair (I'm cringing) than discuss their income. Three per cent refused to answer intimate questions (that would be me) whereas twenty per cent refused to reveal their salary.
 
We really don't like talking about money. Actually I knew that already. My working life is spent patiently (mostly!) inviting people, couples mostly, to talk about money. Rationally if possible, but talking at least. Speaking from around thirty years’ experience of doing this I can report that the hard bits are: 1) getting people into a room for the conversation and 2) inviting them to say how they feel about their relationship with money and how it impacts on their lives. The rest, all that 'advice' stuff that the regulators bang on about, is a doddle by comparison.

We really don't like talking about money and it's costing us our lives. In case you're wondering if I am overdoing this, here are some bald facts:
 
  • 40 per cent of baby boomers (me again) have not even started to make any personal savings towards their pension
 
  • The average size of private pension pots (excluding final salary schemes) in the UK is £15,000. That's the price of an average new car, never mind a Lamborghini...
 
  • People who set a plan and take advice increase their retirement income by an average of 53 per cent.
 
And from my experience the youngsters (thirties and forties) are not doing much better. Overwhelmed by credit card debt and the struggle of bringing up young children with both partners working, the last thing on their minds is making provision for the future. The future is the end of the week. (Take a look at past blog 'On The Edge') 
 
I believe our way forward is to have a conversation with a qualified financial planner. What I don't understand is why most of us won't be doing that. Is it fear about the cost? Shame at what a mess we've made of things so far? Apathy? Fear that we've left it too late?
 
If any of this resonates with you I'm here to help.
 
If you would like to spend an hour with Nicholas at his expense to discover how financial planning may be able to help you, drop him a line at nlee@demontfort.biz or call 07725 784348. More information at www.financiallifeplans.co.uk

When was the last time you sat down and methodically went through your finances? Do you know what you are worth? What you owe? How much tax you pay? Do you know how much your pension is worth? Do you have a pension? When did you last check how much life assurance you own? If you were ill how would you pay your bills? Have you made a will?

If the answer to any of those questions was a slightly sheepish 'No.' Don't worry, don't beat yourself up, you're in good company... but DO something! Take action!

Gather your information together and go and speak to a financial planner – somebody who is qualified to help you get a grip on your financial situation and provide you with objective and independent guidance. There is tremendous value in simply making an audit of where you are financially speaking. Nobody will do this for you. Here comes a terrible truth: nobody else cares if you're still paying your mortgage off in your sixties or doing night shifts at B&Q in your seventies in a desperate attempt to eke out a state pension. Each of us must take responsibility for our financial future.

And most of us don't. We pay the bills (mostly), we rely on credit cards to see us through and we buy things we don't need because we 'deserve it'. And this isn't confined to a small section of our society, this is most of us. We work hard, we do our best and we want the best for our children – the best education, the best opportunities and we'll do whatever it takes to get it for them. So if that means moving to a 'better area' for schools we'll take on a huge mortgage and work hard to pay for it.

Many of us are too tired to take control of our finances, we simply keep going and hope for the best. Many of us are relying on an inheritance at some indeterminate future date to put everything right. Some of us admit that to ourselves and some of us don't. And most of us haven't realised that an inheritance can be decimated by care fees - £30,000 pa for an ordinary care home can soon make a pile of cash look, well, a much smaller pile of cash.

This paints a bleak picture. There has to be a better way. There is. It's called financial planning. Working with a good financial planner will help you to take control of your finances, establish clear priorities and install the disciplines needed to work methodically towards achieving them. Boring but true. And gradually as time passes we begin to get ahead of the curve – we're ready for life's challenges. We've got some money in an emergency fund to pay for the unexpected expense. We've paid our mortgage off as quickly as possible and we're now investing the payments into an education plan for our children or topping up a pension. We have no outstanding debt. And, all being well, we know when we can expect to reach that magic moment – financial independence.

Do you know how many people are on target to achieve the retirement they want? Eight per cent! That should be eighty per cent! But it isn't. Come on we can do better than this....

If you would like to spend an hour with Nicholas at his expense to discover how financial planning may be able to help you, drop him a line at nlee@demontfort.biz or call 07725 784348. More information at www.financiallifeplans.co.uk

I love being a grandparent. The joy of children without the 24/7 responsibility of being a parent. Or as one of my clients so eloquently put it, “You can hand them back at the end of the day...”

Children copy their parents and the 'elders' in their family. That's how they learn. This is never more the case than with money and attitudes towards money. Much of what we learn from our parents about money is unconscious – it just seeps into us and gradually becomes our way of doing things too. My children are in their thirties I recognise some of their behaviour around money. I know where they learnt it. Some, not all alas, is good.

I realise of course that my relationship with money has been directly affected by my experiences as a child. My Dad was entrepreneurial, a risk taker, a worker and blamed himself terribly when things went wrong. My Mum recognised early on that money could buy status and so she focused on acquisition, rather than happiness, and was ever fearful that we hadn't got enough. Her focus, bless her, was actually on never having enough.

It's shocking to see these themes present in my own life. And yet how could it not be so? What we say and teach our children about money is really important. So imagine my delight when I came across Ron Lieber's 'The Opposite of Spoilt.' It is a brilliant manual to help you teach your children good habits around money. In teaching them and modelling the right behaviours you will learn so much yourself.

Think of it as some clever software that you can gradually introduce into their brains to help inoculate them against the relentless 'must haves' and peer pressure of a consumerist economy. An economy that judges us on what we have and less on who we are.

Here is one simple idea from the book. Give your child three jars and help them to label each jar 'Spend'  'Save' 'Give'. So the money they receive is always divided into three:

1.      Some to spend on whatever they want. This is important. Because they will want to spend it all on sweets or one thing. That's fine. Once spent, there is no more. We quickly learn about consequences.

2.      Some to save for a future need or want, something that's desirable. Huge lesson, you can have anything you want, but it takes time and it costs, so make sure you really want it.

3.      Some to Give to someone who needs it more than we do. Here then is the root of compassion, a direct understanding of the power of money and how part of why we're here is to help others.

Those three jars actually represent the basis of the financial plans that I help my adult clients to create. Wouldn't it be fabulous if these simple ideas were hard-wired into our kids, giving them the best chance of coping with the temptations and challenges they will inevitably face? What if their future decisions around money were driven by an innate understanding of how it works and what it means to have peace of mind?

I am offering a copy of Ron Lieber's marvellous book to the first email out of the hat on Friday 15th January. Just email your name and phone number to enter the draw.

And for the grandparents out there...here is your chance to do it better!

Regards,

Nicholas.


Toby sits in the first floor window sill of our bedroom staring intently at the birds, mostly squawking gulls, across the street. Occasionally he will whimper and his tail will bang up and down in, what I imagine, is a
mixture of frustration and anticipation. He’s wanting...  and wishing. 
cat_for_blog
The gulls fly past the window. Nothing in Toby’s head connects with the impossibility of his wanting and certainly not the ludicrous nature of this endeavour. He just carries on wanting like the cat that he is, driven by some ancient instinctive part of his brain over which he has no control.

Sound familiar? Idle wanting. We all do it. One of my clients said he wants an Aston Martin. No real reason. He probably likes the shape, the shininess, the cost, maybe has some fantasy hidden deep in his psyche about being James Bond. Now he owns a very nice Jaguar and he’s quite happy. He no longer wants an Aston. It was just idle wanting.

Most of us have done this at some point in our lives. Thoughtless and greedy we want more and more...
How many of us have ‘stuff’ in our houses that we never use – books, gadgets, clothes – purchases driven by idle wanting? Surely it’s harmless... No it isn’t! Aside from the sheer waste of our money the real cost to us is the unreal nature of our wanting. We turn fanciful wanting into ‘stuff’ piling up around us simply because of the power of a credit card. This undermines the respect we must have for our money if we are ever to make any progress towards financial freedom.  We are literally frittering our lives away on idle wanting. (Have a look at my previous blog http://www.financiallifeplans.co.uk/2015/03/17/how-much-of-my-life-will-this-cost for more on this).

The financial life planning process helps us to see what we’re doing and to move forward by defining our real needs and our life purpose. This takes patience, effort, persistence and clarity of thought. It is the precise opposite of idle. And most of us won’t do it.

We’ll sit on the window sill wanting and wishing and feeling frustrated, driven by forces over which we believe we have no control.

What about you?

Not able to watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below:


The fifties are a little close for me as I am barely through them having reached sixty this year. I have a simple observation: we are the 'Sandwich Generation' .

We are slap bang in the middle of our children in their twenties and thirties trying to establish themselves in life with careers and partners. They need our moral support, a listening ear and often our money too if we have any spare. And sometimes even if we don't!

At the other end of life we have a responsibility for our parents many of whom are engaged in a guerrilla war of trying to maintain their independence in the face of failing health. They need varying amounts of support and sometimes that can have a financial implication too. Our role here is to be supportive without being intrusive – a delicate balance sometimes.

For all of us this is a wakeup call. We realise more than ever before that our lives are finite, time for us will not go on forever. We need a plan, we need to know that our finances make sense and we're going to be alright. This becomes especially poignant if we are watching our parents struggling with limited resources. We can see first-hand that this isn't a good place to be. Or perhaps we were quietly hoping for a decent inheritance top put things right for us and we are watching it disappear into the ever increasing cost of care facilities.

Either way we are awake to the importance of planning our finances, perhaps for the first time. Sometimes things are in such a muddle that we daren't look. As regular readers of this blog will know procrastination and avoidance are brilliant tactics. Until they're not! At some point we have to face the music.

For most of us life's path has had its ups and downs. Redundancies, re-mortgages, debts and divorce may have driven a coach and horses through the best laid plans. We find ourselves still paying a mortgage, possibly carrying some credit card debt and with a pension that is less than adequate. For some of us it's more of a muddle than a mess: pension entitlements stretching back thirty years, bits of money in ISAs and deposit accounts, some shares, a personal pension started and then paid up.

If any of this sounds familiar do not despair. It is possible to create clarity and order around your money. It's simply (notice I didn't use the word 'easy') a matter of sitting down, working out what you've got and where you are and where you want to go. For this you will need help, someone to offer guidance and to be a listening ear as you work out what makes sense to you and begin creating peace of mind around your finances.

The great Holly wood star Bette Davis said, “Old age is not for wimps...”

She was right. So turn and face the dragon. You may be surprised by how effective a long, cool look and a little ingenuity can be.


Regards,

NicholasLee

Nicholas.


If you don't want to watch the video today, why not read the transcription below instead?:

It's 2015, I am sixty this year and I thought it would be fun to do a series of short blogs in which I talk to my younger self in the four decades since my twentieth birthday. It's the stuff I would have told myself if I'd had the sense to listen!
 
Thinking back to my twenties I know I made plenty of mistakes which is probably what our twenties are about. The scenario is likely to look something like this: you've been to college and therefore have some debt, especially if you had a Gap Year. You are in your first or second job so have some idea where you are headed at least for the next ten years or so. By the way there are almost certainly a couple of false starts somewhere along the way, even a love affair that went wrong and may have left you feeling sad and possibly with a financial burden that won't go away easily. Welcome to your twenties!
 
You may have a clear idea of where you are going and it will be helpful if you have, but what you won't know is how you're going to get there. And that's okay. There will be many bends in the road.  Your job is to keep going and accept that's the way it is, go with the flow, do your best and learn from your mistakes.Current_Reality_-_Goal
 
Looking back I would give myself three pieces of advice:
 
1.Take money seriously - Don't ignore it (too boring), don't imagine it will turn out okay (it won't). If you don't pay attention and treat money with respect it deserves it will bite you on the bum and cause you problems for years to come.
 
2.Cut up your Credit Cards – seriously. Just do it.
 
If you need anymore convincing on this subject work out for yourself how much an interest rate of 20% on a debt of £2500 will cost you over five years. Go on. Get your calculator out and multiply 2500 by 20% x 5.
 
Yes, it's £2500 paid in nice monthly instalments of £41.66. Forty quid a month doesn't sound too bad does it... it's two and half thousand pounds! And that's only the interest, there's another £41 per month of capital to pay back as well over five years.
 
Please, save yourself the pain, cut up your credit cards! It will go on for years if you don't. And if you are in debt work out a plan to get rid of all debt (other than a mortgage on bricks and mortar) as quickly as you can. If you need help, ask for it.
 
Trust me you won't regret it.
 
3.Make a Budget – this doesn't have to be an elaborate affair, just write down on a piece of paper how much money you spend on basics – food, accommodation, travel - and see how much is left every month. Then decide what you want to spend it on. Easy.
 
Put around 10% of your income into a savings account at the beginning of the month before paying anybody anything. You're not working to keep the utility companies and the credit card companies in business, you're working for you. So start by paying yourself first.
 
We haven't talked about the 8th wonder of the world – compound interest. We'll come to that later.. think of it this way, it's the exact opposite of credit card charges – it rolls up for your benefit and nobody else...
 
If I'd just done these three things in my twenties the next thirty years would have been so much easier.
 
Tell your friends. And if you want to chat this through – call or email – I'm here to help.

Regards,

Nicholas.
In my work as a financial planner I invite people to engage in a simple three part process.
  1. To Create a Budget – so that they know what is coming in, where it is being spent and what, if anything, is left over. This process includes a complete review of their assets, income, expenditure, investments and debts. It allows them to see a financial summary of where they are. They can then begin to determine their financial priorities.
  2. To Protect what they Have – their income, assets and wellbeing – from the financial consequences of premature death or unexpected disability and illness. The information on the financial summary enables us to quantify this accurately.
  3. To Save and Invest – once we have protected where they are we can begin to save for short term goals and invest for their future and long term well being.
Put like that it all seems very simple and logical. For most people it is not, most people feel daunted by taking these steps, confused by financial jargon and unsure where to start. The vast majority of us avoid the issues all together and simply muddle through.

Muddling through definitely works in the short term. The long term reality sadly is unrealistic expectations, disappointment and a sense of regret. Most of us in our thirties and forties struggle with the demands of a growing family, and perform a high wire act between the  income that never seems to keep pace with rising prices and a vague sense that we are not managing things as well as we might. And most of us in our fifties and sixties have a sharp ‘reality check’ at some point and wish we had taken more care of our finances when younger.

With these thoughts in mind I have devised a series of short videos that address the main issues we face in each of the decades between 20 and 60. Watching them won’t put things right for you, but it might motivate you to talk to a financial planner and take control of your finances once and for all.

The videos will be shared over the next few weeks, I do hope you enjoy them. 

Regards,

Nicholas.


Most people don't, alas. Where_do_you_want_to_go

There are three big life changes when people usually think about speaking to a financial professional:

1. When they need a mortgage to buy a house
2. When they retire or take benefits from a pension
3. When they inherit some money.

The rest of the time we steer clear of financial advisers. It's tempting to believe that this is primarily because people don't trust financial advisers. To be fair our image is down there with estate agents and journalists... That said I believe that many people avoid talking to a financial adviser because they don't want to talk about the mistakes they have made. This is very understandable and, after all, denial is a good strategy... for a while. But it gets you in the end.

“Most people have been taught how to work for money, they have not been taught how money works.” - Tom Barrett, Dare to Dream and Work to Win

I believe that financial planning is for everyone, not just so called 'rich people'. Everyone from college students to young professionals, young families, business owners and 'retired' people can all benefit from having a proactive, positive relationship with money and the guidance of a trusted advisor.

A good financial planner will help you to avoid making daft decisions (we've all done it!). As Carl Richards describes it in his book, The One-Page Financial Plan, a good advisor will stand between you and The Big Mistake.

He will also help you to 'behave'.. for a very long time. Behaving means doing all the things we know we should do: budgeting properly, paying down debt, saving every month, not buying stuff without thinking and so on. Getting this right for a long time means we end up achieving our financial goals and acquiring the freedom and ease around money that seems to elude so many of us.

And it all starts with a conversation... ideally with a financial life planner, someone who will take the time to understand you, what you want, and where you want to be, so that together you can create a plan that works for you.

Regards,
Nicholas.
Do you want more money?We_Buy_-_We_Value
Daft question.
We immediately say yes, without thinking.
Of course.
 
If we are asked what we want to do with this money we'll probably say: go on holiday, buy a newer/ bigger car, build a conservatory, get some clothes. Tick the one that applies to you or add your own.
 
Our perspective then is to look out into the world and want more. More money to get more stuff, to feel safer because the more we have the better off we are. Easy.
 
And yet we have so much.
 
It's a fair assumption if you're reading this that you have probably got some money. You will probably have more than enough to eat as well as access to unlimited supplies of clean water. You will live in a house with lots of stuff in it – computers, TVs, clothes, I could go on...
 
Yet our first response typically to being asked if we want more money is YES! I want more!
 
I'd like to suggest a revolutionary concept. Most of us don't need more. We need to look after what we have and to think about our automatic response – give me more. When Wendy and I moved to a smaller home in 2013, we were both shocked by the amount of stuff we had. It was ridiculous.. books we'd never read, DVDS from way back that we are never going to watch again, clothes we hadn't worn for years and so on and on.
 
In my work with clients we carry out a simple audit of their income and expenditure. It helps us to get clear about exactly where they are. Two things frequently emerge from this endeavour:
 
1)Most people have more income than they 'thought' they had.
2)Aside from the obvious expenditure on mortgage / utilities, most people have no idea what happens to their income. None. It disappears. Gone.
 
So we say we want more.
 
Most of us need to clear out the clutter from our lives and get a real understanding of where our money is going, so that we can decide if that's what we truly want. Only then will we be able to decide if we want more...
 
If you'd like to know more about this go to www.theminimalists.com
 
And if you want to take a long, cool look at your finances and where your money is going, call me on 07725 784 348 or email me at: nicholas@financiallifeplans.co.uk

Regards,

Nicholas.



Unable to watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below instead:

I just wanted to say thank you very much for watching my Baby Boomers series. I hope very much that you found it to be helpful in organising your thoughts about the sort of things you should be doing (or we should be doing!) now that we are in our sixties and seventies.

If you recall, we covered the five main areas of this age: the financial consequences of death, the financial consequences of dementia, debt, the importance of having a discussion between yourselves so that you know what’s going on with your finances, and we talked about downsizing, which I think is a very important part of everybody’s financial planning if you happen to own a house.

By definition all I can do is talk about this stuff in a very sort of simple way on a video.  If you have some more detailed questions or if you would like to have a conversation with me, then please do get in touch

To watch any of the videos again, you can click the titles below: 

Episode 1: Death
Episode 2: Dementia
Episode 3: Discussion
Episode 4: Downsizing
Episode 5: Debt

Thanks for watching,

Regards,

Nicholas.
 
ME:    I’m a financial planner. I help people make sense of money.

PC:     Really...You’re a better man than me (smile). I’ve always found it to be confusing and boring. And, to be honest, I’m not sure you can trust anyone these days. So what do you actually do?

ME:    It’s kind of you to ask. Do you really want to know?

PC:     Yes I do.

ME:    Okay. I help people to articulate their goals and objectives, their aspirations if you like, and together we work out a way of making that happen for them. We start with the end in mind and work out what we need to do to get there. It can be very exciting.

PC:     That sounds pretty complicated to me, probably involves a lot of soul searching. I just tend to live from day to day, doing my best and taking my luck where I find it and rolling with the punches. It’s worked alright for us so far. Well...mostly alright. To be honest, and I don’t know why I’m telling you this, we lost a lot of money in the recession, the credit cards got a bit of a bashing and it’s been hard work pulling everything back together. Things are better now though and I know we should be making plans for the future, but where do you start...?

ME:    At the beginning. With the truth. You begin by understanding exactly where you are now – your assets, your income, your expenditure, your debts, your investments and pensions. The truth will set you free. And in my experience, it’s never as bad as you think. It will put you back in control of things.

PC:     Well, yes that does sound a bit better...and I know we should be doing it.

ME:    Would it be helpful to see where you are likely to be in 5, 10, 15 years time? A financial snapshot if you like of your future self. Do you think that would help you to make better decisions today?

PC:     Well, yes it might...it could also be pretty frightening. I thought you guys were just trying to get our money!

ME:    Of course we are! (Smiling). The truth is that a financial plan driven by your goals and objectives will always involve savings and investments. It also involves you getting what you want, by taking control of your future...instead of trusting to luck and good fortune.

PC:     You’re right. We really should be doing something like this.

ME:    Okay. Come and spend an hour with me at my expense and I’ll show you how it works. Have you got your diary handy?  



Can't watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below:


Welcome to the penultimate video of The Baby Boomer Series; today we’re discussing debt.

Let’s get straight down to the bottom line - debt does not die with you.

Many of us have been through a tough period during the recession. Those of us in our late 50s are still working, and some of us following a redundancy because of the recession, have started our own small business. We may have re-mortgaged the house to put more money into the business. If so It is very important for you to understand that it is a debt, and if you were to die unexpectedly you would leave that debt to your dependents, principally your spouse or partner. I have heard people say, “Well it wouldn't be a problem. He / she could just sell the house and move on.”

Is that really what you want your spouse to have to do in those circumstances?

It really is worth thinking that through and seeing what you can do to plan appropriately. The most obvious thing of course is to remove the debt as quickly as possible, but this is always a little bit harder to do and takes time. It may be appropriate to think about life insurance to ensure that, in the event of your unexpected death, the debt is repaid.

This episode really has the same message that runs throughout the whole Baby Boomer Series, which is talk to each other - talk to your family, talk to your business partners and work out what’s going to be the best way for all of you.  

Regards,

Nicholas.

Welcome to the fourth video in the Baby Boomer Series – this week we’ll be looking at the issue of downsizing your home.

Downsizing a large family home is becoming a very popular option for releasing capital and reducing living expenses. Many Baby Boomers find themselves owning a huge home thanks to the housing boom of the last thirty years. By huge I refer to the amount of space it takes up and the money it takes to run it. My suggestion is that you talk to your family about downsizing and whether it's right for you and your loved ones.

Let’s think about this: suppose you have a house that’s worth £300,000. If you need some capital released from the  house, now is the time to do it, while you’re vigorous and able to make decisions. If you wait until you are in your seventies it won’t be as easy and will become a much bigger hurdle. Once the hurdle becomes too big, the option of equity release begins to look attractive.

In my opinion, equity release is not the best solution: interest rates are much higher on equity release mortgages (because they are fixed) and the interest charged rolls up over the years. A £25,000 loan can easily become £100,000 over twenty years. If you downsize earlier, you have the opportunity to take the money out of the house, invest it and use it provide income. You also have the option of making gifts to children and grandchildren to help with education costs or providing a deposit to get them onto the property ladder themselves. Or if you prefer you can use the 'SKI'(Spend the Kids' Inheritance!) plan. At least it’s being used for someone’s benefit rather than to a mortgage company.

So what is your action point from today? I suggest that you sit down with the family and have a conversation about downsizing. If you’re hesitant to talk to the family, then start by talking with your other half. The two of you can discuss how you feel about the prospect of downsizing, and how you could go about it cleverly.

And never forget.. your financial planner is always available to help you do just that – make plans that help you to get what you want!

Regards,

Nicholas.

Welcome to the third video in my series for Baby Boomers.



Cant watch the video today - why not need the transcript below?
 
This time we are lightening the mood just a little bit and talk about talking!
 
Most couples find financial planning is helpful in getting them to talk to each other about their finances. People tend to need prompting to do this!
 
With most couples there is a tendency for one person to take responsibility for the money.  Although there is nothing the matter with this, what tends to happen is that the other person ends up not knowing anything.  Inevitably somebody, usually the person who is responsible for it all, dies, and the other individual is left just not knowing what on earth is going on.  This is a recipe for disaster!
 
So how do we fix this? Very easily!
 
Start by making a list of everything - assets, income, bank accounts etc.  Sit down together around the kitchen table and talk! Do this once every six months or so. Talk about what you are spending money on, talk about your assets, the income that you are getting, simply have a conversation. This may sound incredibly simple but you would be amazed how the vast majority of us just don’t do that. 
 
If you feel that you can’t, whether you can’t get yourself around to it, it just doesn’t seem to work or the conversation is not as productive as you would like then maybe talking to a financial planner would be helpful to you. 
 
So please, when it comes to your finances, Baby Boomers please talk to each other!

Regards,

Nicholas.

Welcome to the second video of the Baby Boomer Series - Today we are looking at the subject of dementia.





Not able to watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below instead:


Although dementia is a topic we would all probably prefer not think about or address, unfortunately it is a huge reality of old age

The purpose of this video is simply to give you some information about the financial consequences of dementia. 

If someone close to you, your family, your spouse, is unable to look after their own financial affairs it can create chaos. It may not be possible to access a bank account or do something as simple as renewing a car insurance policy. You cannot make decisions on a person’s behalf unless you have a Power of Attorney.  The point of course is that a Power of Attorney is a legal document which enables whoever you appoint to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.

My mother is now 90 years old and unfortunately is unable to do anything for herself since suffering a stroke. Luckily, we had arranged and put in place a Power of Attorney many years ago when she was much younger and able to make those kinds of decisions.  It has meant my brother and I have been able to deal with her financial affairs, her house and car, paying her bills – relatively easily.

The emotional impact of dealing with someone close to you who is suffering from dementia is huge. It's a relief not to have to worry about the money side of things. Although my Mother’s situation was slightly different in that she had a stroke rather than suffering dementia, I have been very grateful for that power of attorney.

If you don’t currently have a Power of Attorney, may I suggest that you take a few minutes to please research them. If you’re not really sure where to start or to look, send me an email and I can give you some more information.

Regards,

Nicholas.

Welcome to Episode 1 of my Baby Boomer series.



Not able to watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below instead:
 
We are going to be starting right at the end by looking at ‘Death’.  Essentially, this is a subject that I talk a great deal about with clients because it is a key to the way in which we plan our finances.
 
Benjamin Franklin said “The only thing that’s certain in life is death and taxes” and of course, to an extent, he is right! 
 
Death is an emotional subject - I have my own experiences around this and all I can offer you is just some very simple basic ideas on what you should be thinking about around death.
 
Remember, by looking at this subject you are setting things up for your dependants, for your spouse and for your children and I’m sure you’ll agree, there can be nothing more important than that!
 
So what are the issues that we need to consider? Clearly you need a Will, as well as needing to think about (quite carefully!) whom you would appoint as Executors. If you have assets in excess of £500k (and most of us have these days the way in which house prices have increased) then you need to be thinking about a Trust. You’ll need to give some thought to protecting your assets from potential nursing care costs in the future. And if you have grandchildren, you might want to think about making gifts to them and therefore hopping over a generation.
 
There really is quite a lot to think about, and some important decisions to be made!
 
The real issue is getting our heads around this difficult subject; the worst thing you can actually do is bury your head in the sand and not directly deal with it.
 
Just think, none of us have go to this Baby Boomer age without having experienced death in our own lives.  Think of the effect and the emotions around your experiences and think of how you want so much to help your children and your dependents at that very difficult time. 

So, let’s have the conversations now, let's take the actions we need to take now, ideally with the guidance of a caring financial planning practitioner. Then we can get on and  enjoy the 'best years of our lives' with the peace of mind of knowing we've done the right thing.

Regards,

Nicholas.
Happy New Year and welcome to the first video of the Baby Boomers series!

In this series of video blogs we will be talking about some of the important issues that, as Baby Boomers, we need to be addressing – it’s going to be a kind of mental spring clean!




Not able to watch the video today? Why not read the transcript below?

As baby boomers in our early sixties we’ve reached the point where we have accumulated some money and now, hopefully, have some time to do some of the things we want to do. This series of videos is about prompting you to attend to the 'housekeeping' issues that we'd all prefer to avoid.

These are:
  • The financial consequences of death
  • The potential effects of dementia.
  • The effect of debt on your estate.
  • The importance of talking about these issues rationally and constructively.
  • When and how to downsize your home.
Each video will provide some information designed to prompt you to begin sorting out these difficult issues and, if you feel it is appropriate, seek the advice of a good financial planner.

Talking to one of my clients the other day she explained to me that she was very worried about her ageing parents. One of them is suffering from dementia and there are issues around care and money and what is best. Now well into their eighties and having not made any plans or provision for this situation, they are finding it difficult to cope, and my client understandably feels responsible for them.

As I listened  to her I realised how very important it is that we, as baby boomers in our sixties, make plans for whatever situation we may face in twenty years time. We owe this to ourselves and to our children.

So, let’s have the conversations now, let's take the actions we need to take now, ideally with the guidance of a caring financial planning practitioner. Then we can get on and  enjoy the 'best years of our lives' with the peace of mind of knowing we've done the right thing.

Regards,

Nicholas.