7 ways to be financially secure in retirement

7 ways to be financially secure in retirement

Have you prepared for retirement? If the answer is no, you’re part of an increasingly large number of people in the same situation. For a lot of individuals in the UK it’s hard enough to get from month to month without factoring in pensions and savings – increasingly so with the impact of the financial downturn on the economy.

With every passing year, the average UK life-expectancy increases – meaning you’re likely to be relying on your pension longer than anyone before. For that reason, it makes sense to think soon about some ways of ensuring financial comfort security though your later years. For every habit that will keep you comfortable in retirement, there’s a bad habit that will put you at risk – for that reason, have a look at our 7 dos and don’ts relating to financial stability in retirement.

Don’t rely entirely on the state

The basic state pension currently stands at £159.55 a week – which is very small compared to any full-time wage. A state pension is not designed for financial stability – instead, it is an amount intended to cover food and utilities, with little or nothing left over.

What’s more, research shows that less time at work generally equals a greater spend for most people – that’s not to say that your spending will go up dramatically, but trying to balance increased free-time with a significantly reduced income just doesn’t work.

Do start thinking about retirement now

If retirement is a long way off then the prospect of planning for it now might seem premature – but don’t be fooled, around 50% of pensioners say they would like to have factored more time into planning for retirement – with around 33% saying they are experiencing reduced comfort since finishing work.

There are a number of things you can be doing now, saving, investing or exploring private pension options – don’t be one of the people who forever puts off planning to regret it further down the line.

Don’t rely on inheritance

If you have a financially secure parent or parents with their own homes then you might feel that there’s no need to plan for future financial security. However, relying on inheritance can be a risky tactic. Firstly, there is no reason to believe people will live well into their 90s – which can often mean a child being well into retirement age with no sight of that expected income.

What’s more, even if you are certain of your parent’s financial position, there’s an increasing chance that property prices will grow to a point where a hefty amount of inheritance tax is due, denting your plans – and that’s before you’ve considered funding any care provision that might be required as your parents age.

Do factor retirement into your budget

Many financially secure people say that having a budget was one of the key steps toward becoming comfortable. How this works for each individual is a little different – but essentially you would want to have income and expenditure columns. There is no need to worry about any amount of money being left over when all your expenditure is taken from your income – provided you’ve factored everything in to your costs.

When planning for retirement, ‘savings’ or ‘pension contributions’ should become one of those costs. It’s very easy to think that you can ‘put away whatever’s left’ when the end of the month comes around – but this rarely happens without planning. Instead, decide on an amount of money and treat it in the same way you would a bill that is taken each month.

They key is to make it an achievable amount of money – it’s better to save consistently than it is larger sums sporadically. As you become comfortable with the amount you’re putting away you can adjust upwards and calculate what that means to your retirement as you continue to save.

Don’t rely on a partner

Until recently a married person was able to ‘top-up’ their entitlement to a pension assuming their other half had a fuller National Insurance record. However, this is now a thing of the past, so pensions will be based entirely on your own contribution.

It’s not just changes in pension policy that mean relying a spouse can be a reckless idea, while a couple can have a huge history together, putting your financial well-being entirely in the hands of someone else does sometimes end badly – so whether it’s a state or private pension that you’re banking on always being accessible for the both of you, you should always look to keep yourself financially buoyant should there be any big life changes.

Do try to be debt free when you hit retirement

It might be easier said than done, but aiming to be free from debt when you reach retirement can make life enormously more comfortable. If you’re a number of years away from pension age this gives you more opportunity to plan how becoming debt-free will look – do you need to seek specialist debt support? Would sitting down and working out a black and white budget help? Does being in debt change your thoughts about taking full retirement?

Everyone’s situation is a little different – but virtually everyone in the UK is in some level of debt. Don’t let retirement creep up on you, you can very easily find yourself in a situation where your pension just doesn’t match your out-goings. For more information and advice read Getting Out of Debt and Staying Out of Debt.

Don’t rush in to cashing-in

It can be enormously tempting to ‘cash-in’ one or more of your pensions to take a big chunk of money and do the things you’ve always wanted to. Try to temper your thoughts of exotic locations or big money purchases – even if they look like they’ll add to life in the short-term, your lifestyle might feel the pinch more long-term. It’s easy to think that a pension signifies the later stages of life – but there could very well be 30 plus years to fund beyond your holiday of a lifetime!

Plan – but don’t be down

The key handling finances with retirement in mind is to strike a balance that works in the short and long term. There’s often no need to cut your spending to the bone thinking about retirement – but at the same time, it’s important not to be reckless thinking the time will never come. Budgeting is vital, getting your plans on paper is a great way to get an overview of what life could look like as you reach your golden years.

10 Ways To Improve Your Credit Score

10 Ways To Improve Your Credit Score

Having a poor credit score can negatively impact your life and create stressful situations and unfortunate scenarios that people want to avoid. A poor credit score can make getting approval for any loan extremely tricky; often banks will refuse loans to those with a poor credit history. If you are offered a loan, you will often find that you have to pay higher rates or have more restrictive terms which can mean the loan is more hassle than it is worth.

Credit scores can also affect your employment, employers can check your credit history during the hiring process, and this could stop you getting your dream job, a bad credit rating can also make getting security clearance difficult. At home, a poor credit score can affect your ability to be able to rent a flat or house as landlords are wary of applicants who may pay late, or not pay at all.

While it may sound trivial, a poor credit rating can even stop you from getting a mobile phone contract and may even force you to pay higher insurance premiums. Poor credit affects you and your loved ones personally too, it can create a tremendous amount of pressure and strain on relationships and can make you feel stressed, worried and anxious.

Fortunately, a poor credit rating doesn’t last forever, and it is possible to rebuild your score and repair any of the problems it has. If you’ve checked your credit score and now want to make it better, here are ten of the best ways to improve your credit score.

  1. Check And Fix Mistakes

Unfortunately, mistakes do happen, or even worse, people become a victim of fraud. If you see unusual activity or mistakes on your credit score, make sure to challenge them by complaining to the credit reference agency. During the challenge, the mistake will be marked as ‘disputed information’ and lenders aren’t allowed you use it when assessing your rating.

  1. Add Your Name To Electoral Roll

Those missing from the electoral register will find it much harder to get credit. The electoral register documents your name and location so that you can be recorded to vote in Government elections. Adding yourself to the electoral roll is easy, just register to vote online or by post.

  1. Don’t Close Unused Accounts

A factor in credit history is how long you have had credit with creditors. If your account is inactive or unused, you will still be rewarded for a long-term positive credit history. Don’t have too many accounts open as you may be susceptible to fraud.

  1. Avoid Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy is one of the worst things you can do to your credit score; it will be a substantial and immediate drop which can last for over ten years. While some consider bankruptcy as an easy way out to start over, it makes starting afresh tough.

  1. Negotiate Resolutions With Creditors

Unexpected circumstances can arise, and by and large, creditors understand this. If you cannot pay your bills, get in contact with your creditor to discuss a solution that is acceptable and meets your financial situation. The negotiation will avoid negative information being stored on your credit history and can really help you in times of financial difficulty.

  1. Use A Credit-Building Card

Some credit cards are designed to build credit to improve your score. The creditor loans you money on the card and you agree to a monthly fee to pay back the loan which can be as little as £50 but can make all the difference to your score. If you pay your fee back monthly, after a year your report will say you have made 12 months of successful repayments.

  1. Avoid Credit Repair Companies

Some businesses will offer to repair your credit history for a fee. This is costly and they cannot, legally, do anything that you can’t already do yourself. Save money and improve your score on your own.

  1. Plan Ahead

If you know there is a big purchase coming up, make sure to plan ahead and improve your credit score gradually, by the time you get to the purchase you’ll have months of ‘good credit deeds’ behind you as evidence.

  1. Stop Applying For Credit Cards

Every loyalty credit card or other credit systems will be noted as a credit enquiry and can impact your credit score for over a year. Applying for lots of credit cards in a short time span indicates money worries and can do a lot of damage to your score.

  1. Pay On Time

This may be harder to do, but late payments are incredibly detrimental to your score. Set up payment reminders on calendars and devices, so you are prepared for when bills are coming and when you need to pay them.

When Should I Consider An Individual Voluntary Agreement?

An Individual Voluntary Agreement, commonly shortened to IVA, is an attractive debt solution that could make you debt free in just five years, with up to 70% of your debt written off. An IVA is a formal and legally-binding debt solution plan that works on the premise of paying your creditors with affordable monthly payments without the worrying threat of legal action or stress from creditors hassling you for payment.

As with all debt solutions, IVAs are only suitable for some types of debts, and you may not be eligible. This article will explain more thoroughly about what an IVA is and who could benefit from the agreement as well as offering the advantages and disadvantage of the scheme.

What Is An IVA?

An Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA) is a government-backed and legally-binding agreement that is upheld by you and your creditors. It is a formalised debt solution that can help you to pay your debts back over a period of time, usually in affordable, fixed monthly sums.

As the IVA is legally binding, it means that the courts approve it and that you and your creditors have to stick to it. For you, it means that if you can’t make your repayments, your creditors may force you to be declared bankrupt. For your creditors, the fact that it is legally binding means that they accept your contributions to the debt and can no longer chase you for the debt. Once the period of the IVA is up, the creditors write off the remaining debt, and you will not be hassled by them again.

An IVA is a form of insolvency but different to bankruptcy. With bankruptcy, your bank account is likely to be closed, and there is little flexibility. With an IVA you can continue to use your bank account, and you have more flexibility regarding your personal circumstances.

How Do You Set Up An IVA?

Using an insolvency practitioner, usually an accountant or solicitor, they work out an achievable and affordable repayment plan. The insolvency practitioner will then send your offer to your creditors, and it is the creditor’s decision whether or not to approve your repayment plan.

A creditor meeting is held where all of your creditors can discuss your plan. For approval, 75% of the creditors must be in agreement on your repayment plan. Creditors also have the chance to approve your plan providing that you agree to make certain modifications to the agreement. If you accept the changes, or if there are no changes, the IVA will be approved on the day of the meeting.

If the creditors propose changes that may require you to take time for consideration, the meeting can be adjourned for up to 14 days. While most people assume lenders will not accept an IVA, the creditors actually have more chance of recuperating part of the debt this way compared to other methods, providing you give your best offer to creditors, they are likely to be favourable of the agreement.

Once an IVA is agreed, you begin to make monthly repayments to your insolvency practitioner; they will distribute the money to the creditors as well as keep a proportion to pay for their fees.

Is An IVA For Me?

IVAs are common debt solutions for those who have at least a spare £100 a month from their income and for those who have either two or more two debts, from two or more creditors.

An IVA is a prime choice solution for those with debts over £10,000 and is ideal for people who don’t want to deal with creditors directly.

What Are The Advantages?

Some of the benefits include;

  • Legally binding – no one can chase you for debt once in force
  • Limited time – you could be debt free in five years
  • Creditors accept only part of the debt will be repaid
  • It is flexible, pay back what you can afford
  • The practitioner deals with the creditors, so you don’t have to
  • Your home and family are protected, and you have money to live.

At the end of the IVA, the remaining debt is written off, and after six years, your record of the IVA will be taken off the insolvency register so that you can build your credit rating up again.

What Are The Disadvantages?

  • The IVA will put you on the insolvency register, which affects your credit rating
  • The scheme is not available in Scotland
  • The IVA must be set up by a qualified person, and they will charge a fee around £5,000 to set up an agreement which adds to the debt
  • If you are an accountant or solicitor, you may be prevented from working
  • You may have to remortgage your home and sell your car and other high-value goods
  • Your savings and pension payments will often be used to pay creditors.

Throughout the length of an IVA you commit to paying a set monthly sum, this means you have to commit for the whole period. If you struggle to keep up with payments, your IVA will fail, and you could be made bankrupt.

What Are The Alternatives?

If an IVA doesn’t suit your personal circumstances, there are other debt solutions such as bankruptcy, a Debt Relief Order or a Debt Management Plan.


How To Be More Financially Stable

If you are having a hard time managing your finances, it is the time that you will employ some proven and tested tips and tricks to get your goals achieved faster and become financially independent. You will find that there are a probably a number of things that you have been doing wrong today that may have caused you to still be stuck in this financial quagmire that you are in below, we list down some of the things that you can do if you want to be financial stable.

For example, lets say you are doing some home improvements. This doesn’t need to break the bank! This article 10 Low Cost Home Improvements shares some great tips on how to make carry out these on a budget.

One of the things that you need to know about IVA and how to better prepare for your future is to make sure that you get rid of your debts. If you have been racking up some really huge numbers due to your credit card purchases, see to it that you will actually do something about it and get it paid off. The longer you are in debt, the higher interest rates you pay. So, getting it paid off as soon as you can is the best way to go.

You will want to stop your accumulation of debts as well. You cannot really start planning about your Trust Deeds or establishing your Protected Trust Deeds when you have a huge debt hanging in front of you in the first place. Aside from making sure that you get it paid off, make it a point to stop accumulating more. Getting rid of all those credit cards you have and maintaining only a single one for emergency purposes is always a good way to go.

Think of your retirement. It is not often time that you will be able to stay in your job or do what you have been doing now. At some point, you will grow old and you will want to retire and spend the rest of your lives in peace and convenience. So, always make surer to craft out a financial plan that will clearly figure your future in. this way, when you are old and unable to earn any more money, you are sure that you will have something figured out to allow you to live as comfortably as possible.

Save money, it is when you just spend and spend and not really hold back that you will start having problems if you want to be more financially stable, then there would be a need for you to set aside a specific number every time you get paid. This can help serve as your rainy day fund. This way, if and when there is ever an emergency spending that you need to do, you will know exactly where you are going to pull those funds from.

If you want to retire early, then you might want to start your savings as early as now too. It is advised though that you should think twice about the idea of leaving the workforce. This is because there are a lot of consequences that might befall you if you will no longer have a specific source of income moving forward. Always a have a plan B if you ever decide to resign from your job so you will not be stuck financially later on.

Invest some of your money too. Sometimes, people are way too afraid of losing their cash if they do. That is part and parcel of investments when you do it right, you get ROI and when you do it wrong,  you lose the money. The key is to look for the best investment programs here in the market today, consider its reputation and how good the feedback coming from other interested investors so you will know what to expect put of it should you decide to put some money down on them. Also, never put all of your eggs in a single basket alone.