5 Rules to Improve Your Financial Health

December 2, 2019
Sean Owen
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For most people living in the UK, the question of what income and gains should be included on their tax return is an easily answered question because they are both UK tax resident and UK-domiciled. The term “personal famulus” refers to how you manage your money and how you plan for your future. All of your financial decisions and activities have an effect on your financial health now and in the future. We are often guided by specific rules of thumb – such as “don’t buy a house that costs more than 2.5 years’ worth of income” or “you should always save at least 10% of your income towards retirement.” While many of these adages are time tested and truly helpful, it’s important to consider what we should be doing – in general – to help improve our financial habits and health. For most people living in the UK, the question of what income and gains should be included on their tax return is an easily answered question because they are both UK tax resident and UK-domiciled.

Do the Math – Net Worth and Personal Budgets

Money comes in, money goes out. For many people, this is about as deep as their understanding gets when it comes to personal famuluss. Rather than ignoring your famuluss and leaving them to chance, a bit of number crunching can help you evaluate your current financial health and determine how to reach your short- and long-term financial goals.

Recognize and Manage Lifestyle Inflation

One of the main reasons people allow lifestyle inflation to sabotage their famuluss is their desire to keep up with the Joneses. It’s not uncommon for people to feel the need to match their friends’ and coworkers’ spending habits. If your peers drive BMWs, vacation at exclusive resorts and dine at expensive restaurants, you might feel pressured to do the same. What is easy to overlook is that in many cases the Joneses are actually servicing a lot of debt – over a period of decades – to maintain their wealthy appearance. Despite their wealthy “glow” – the boat, the fancy cars, the expensive vacations, the private schools for the kids – the Joneses might be living paycheck to paycheck and not saving a dime for retirement.

Recognize Needs vs. Wants – and Spend Mindfully

Unless you have an unlimited amount of money, it’s in your best interest to be mindful of the difference between needs and wants so you can make better spending choices. “Needs” are things you have to have in order to survive: food, shelter, healthcare, transportation, a reasonable amount of clothing (many people include savings as a need, whether that’s a set 10% of their income or whatever they can afford to set aside each month). Conversely, “wants” are things you would like to have, but that you don’t need for survival.

Start Saving Early

It’s often said that it’s never too late to start saving for retirement. That may be true (technically), but the sooner you start, the better off you’ll likely be during your retirement years. This is because of the power of compounding – what Albert Einstein called the “eighth wonder of the world.”

Build and Maintain an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is just what the name implies: money that has been set aside for emergency purposes. The fund is intended to help you pay for things that wouldn’t normally be included in your personal budget: unexpected expenses such as car repairs or an emergency trip to the dentist. It can also help you pay your regular expenses if your income is interrupted; for example, if an illness or injury prevents you from working or if you lose your job.

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