Retirement might seem an ice age away, but if you don’t make provisions now, you won’t be financially secure in your golden years.
An ageing population means that in future, there will be fewer workers to pay the pensions of a greater number of older people.
The Government is planning major reforms of pension schemes to ease the strain, but there’s still a lot you can do.
Managing your money effectively now can ensure you enjoy your later years to the full.
1. Which scenario best describes your habit for paying your credit-card bill?
A. I try to pay the minimum amount each month but sometimes I forget, or I can’t afford it.
B. I pay the whole amount off each month without fail because I resent paying the high interest.
C. I don’t have a credit card.
2. Your bank sends a letter saying you’re eligible for a personal loan of up to £10,000. Do you…
A. Call them straight away and get the loan sorted?
B. File it away with all your other financial papers in case there is a need to borrow money at a future date?
C. Chuck the letter straight in the bin because you haven’t got time to read all the small print?
3. When it comes to the roof over your head, are you…
A. Paying way more than you can really afford, but it’s an amazing flat/room/house.
B. Paying a mortgage, or renting but saving hard for a deposit to buy.
C. Still renting after all these years because you haven’t got around to buying your own place. You really should go and see a mortgage advisor but it’s all so tedious isn’t it.
4. Which describes your attitude to saving money?
A. It’s for old people, not for me. I’m too busy living my life to the full. I can start saving later when I really need to.
B. I try to put a little by each month into a high interest account.
C. I have a little jar of loose change that’s getting pretty big.
5. Do you always know how much money you have, how much you have spent and what on?
A. No, I haven’t got a clue.
B. Yes, I’ve got a fair idea what I spend my money on and how much I have in each of my bank/savings accounts.
C. Yes. I usually keep around £60 in cash on me and I only have one account so it’s easy to keep track.
6. Which best describes your experience of overdrafts?
A. It’s like a best friend. It’s always there when you need it.
B. I don’t have one because the bank charges too much interest. If I get a little short of money, I cut back on my spending.
C. I think I can get one, but I’m not sure how to apply for it. Is it difficult?
7. When you need to renew your home and car insurance, do you…
A. Just renew with your existing company because you haven’t got time to shop around.
B. Go online and find a site that offers a price comparison service. It will help you find the cheapest deal quickly and without paying for calls.
C. Forget to sort it out and then realise your mistake two months later when you need to make a claim.
8. Have you made a will?
A. What? Are you’re joking? I’m far too young.
B. Yes. All of my assets have been assigned to various members of my family.
C. No, there’s no point. Apart from a few CDs and a portable TV, I’ve got nothing to leave to anyone anyway.
9. Do you know what interest rates you pay on your loans, credit cards or mortgage?
A. No. They’re all pretty much the same aren’t they?
B. Yes, and I keep tabs on who is doing what. If you keep moving your money to different lenders you can save quite a bit.
C. No. All that mumbo jumbo means nothing to me. I’m just no good with figures.
10. Do you have a company pension?
A. No, my employer does offer one but I’ve opted out for the time being.
B. Yes, I pay the maximum amount I can each month.
C. Erm, I’m pretty sure pensions were mentioned on my induction day but I’d switched off by that point.
If you answered mostly As… start looking ahead. If you carry on like this, you’ll end up under all sorts of financial strain. With clever budgeting and a few sacrifices you can enjoy yourself but still protect your financial future. If you’re in debt, pay it off before you start to save. Old age may be a long way off, but it is crucial to have a pension. Get some help from an independent financial adviser.
If you answered mostly Bs… well done, you’re on the right track and seem to be keeping on top of things. You’ll be sunning yourself in St Tropez before you know it.
If you answered mostly Cs… it’s time you stepped into the 21st century. We wouldn’t be surprised if you had wedges of £20 notes stuffed under your mattress. Don’t be frightened by financial matters. Book an appointment with a financial advisor recommended by a friend. They should be able to give you some money management tips without using any jargon. Once you’ve got a good system in place, it should be easy to keep things under control.