Made in Munster: Three months, three steps to a financial reboot

Made in Munster: Three months, three steps to a financial reboot
Carol Brick, managing director of financial advisers HerMoney, has smart steps to save money.

As part of our Made in Munster series, we are talking to local firms devoted to helping individuals and families make the best of their finances, writes Gráinne McGuinness.

I asked Carol Brick, managing director of financial advisers HerMoney, to suggest three things households could do over the next three months that would put them in a better position going into 2020.

Carol believes careful financial planning is a hugely important component of family life: “It is key to achieving financial freedom and peace of mind,” she said. “As a parent myself, I completely understand how difficult it is to see past the day to day running of a busy household, as well as work outside the home too.

“That said, too many families are failing to plan for the future in terms of saving, whether it’s for short term emergencies or saving for children’s third level education costs.

Secondly an enormous amount of families have little or no provision in place should one or both parents have to stop work due to illness or even worse die prematurely.

She suggests the first step should be a household expenditure review.

“As Charles Jaffe’s famous old saying goes ‘It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spendinghabits’,” she says.

“With this in mind my advice is to kickstart your “2020 financial reboot” by conducting a rigorous review of your spending habits.

“Couples need to print out bank statements for a typical month (not December), then sit down to examine the various outgoings over the month and look at ways to make any possible savings.”

Some of the questions you need to ask yourself are as follows:

  • Can I firstly save any money on the big-ticket items in terms of monthly expenditure — when was the last time I reviewed my mortgage policy, mortgage protection cover and major insurance policies?
  • Do I have any high-interest credit cards or other loans? Can I pay these off as soon as possible?
  • Can I possibly spend less on certain items like grocery shopping or on energy bills?
  • Am I getting the best deals available in terms of health cover, car & house insurance, etc?
  • Are there any subscriptions I am paying for that are not being used any more?

Stage two is to build a household savings buffer:

“Before you start saving for your ‘wants’, the priority should be on a savings fund to cover any unexpected expenses or emergencies,” Ms Brick says.

“This should ideally be at least four times your joint monthly net salary. A straightforward deposit (savings) account is the best option for this type of fund.

“After you have covered this emergency fund, then you need to look at larger items you may need in the next five years — for example, changing the car, house renovations, etc. These savings need to also be saved into a deposit account.

“Next, longer-term savings goals can be established. Examples could be saving to help your children go through third level education in 10 years’ time or saving to ensure you have a comfortable retirement.

In order to potentially grow this money as much as possible within the time frame and in line with your end objective, then, investing in the markets may be a better option than a bank deposit account. Always engage with an experienced independent financial advisor to explore your best options in this regard.

Her third step is not about your own earnings or outgoings but rather checking your household entitlements:

“We find that families frequently do not take the time to ensure they are claiming and benefiting from the correct tax reliefs and credits as well as any social welfare benefits and allowances they may be entitled to. For example, women returning from maternity leave should ensure their tax credits are increased to reflect the fact they are no longer in receipt of maternity benefit.

“Also, ensure to take the time each year to claim back tax relief on medical and relevant dental expenses for the previous year. These can soon add up and it is simple to do via the ‘myAccount’ section of the Revenue Website or in your annual tax return if applicable.”

DEAL OF THE WEEK

The English Market has long been one of the jewels in Munster’s food crown. Now a shop dedicated to organic, local and seasonal produce — packaged entirely without plastic — makes the market even more of a draw for sustainable shoppers.

Virginia O’Gara, owner of My Goodness and long-time market seller, explained the reason for opening the shop: “I realised that a lot of my friends who were farmers were going home with loads of vegetables that they had spent all season growing,” she says.

“There is only a four-hour window to trade well at a farmers’ markets, and not everyone can make it out, so we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could enjoy the seasonality of what I get to see all the time at the farmers’ markets, and provide that in the city centre?

"We wanted to find a way that we could help them out and provide whatever they had in excess to the people of Cork through the stall.”

Visit My Goodness in the English market, or go to: www.mygoodnessfood.com.

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