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ESSENTIALS IN OUTSOURCING

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Outsourcing is an essential part of the modern SME. There is one key factor that you must remember about an SME. It needs to stay competitive and lean to stay afloat in the market. To do this, you must work to cut costs and save money in your business model. There are a variety of ways to do this, but outsourcing is by far one of the best.

 

When you outsource, you will be handing off part of your business to another company. Essentially, they will have free control over this sector of your company. The benefit? You will only be paying one fixed cost for this service. However, if you do not make careful considerations, it can also lead to serious issues. So, let’s make sure you understand how to outsource correctly.

 

What Areas Should Be Outsourced

 

Generally speaking, you can outsource any area of your business. However, most companies tend to focus on the most important sections, such as legal areas. You may be aware that legal personnel can cost a fortune. However, with outsourcing, this issue can be rectified. Rather than hiring individuals, you can get a full team for HR services. They’ll handle all the areas of HR in your company for you and ensure that the costs don’t balloon.

 

Other areas might include IT support. IT support is another area of the business where costs tend to grow out of control. Since this type of support is so essential staff can often demand a far higher pay grade than business owners typically expect.

 

You may want to avoid outsourcing areas of your business that are directly related to your customers. For instance, call handling does require a lot of staff. However, these individuals are going to be speaking to your customers as the main part of their job. As such, you might want to keep a tighter reign on quality control, ensuring customers aren’t turned off by a poor service.

 

Choosing The Right Outsourcing Company

 

Arguably, the best way to choose an outsourcing business is to check the customer and client reviews. Make sure that other businesses are pleased with the service that this company has provided. If they are, there’s a fantastic possibility that they could provide a great level of support for your company. You do, however, want to avoid opting for the cheapest service. In this industry, you often get what you pay for.

 

Spending a little more may allow you access to a service that uses sophisticated technology which can lead to far better results on the market.

 

Should You Outsource?

 

It’s an interesting question. Working in certain industries, you might be in the position where you can provide your own outsourcing service to companies. This can be a fantastic way to boost your profit margin and make your business a more powerful source on the market. To outsource successfully, you will need to build up a solid reputation on the market and ensure that you are trusted by customers and clients.

 

We hope that this shines some light over the complex possibility of outsourcing in your company.

 

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HOW TO HIRE YOUR FIRST EMPLOYEE

When you first start out in business on your own, it’s easy to believe that you’re going to be on your own for a while. And in some circumstances, you may be. But that may not always be the case. Whether you run your own freelance business or you’re a self-employed start up owner, you’ll find that as your business grows, you may need some staff to support your operations. But when you’ve been so used to being on your own, and you’ve never hired anyone before, you may not know exactly how to go about hiring that first employee. So let’s walk through the steps.

 

 

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Work Out What You Want

 

First of all, you need to be able to know exactly what you want from your first employee. Whether their role is going to be quite general, or something very specific, it’s important that you know what you need help with, so that you can find the best person for the job. So, at this point, you need to write down all of the things you’re going to need from the person in question. Whether it’s email assistance and general admin or financial support and sales, figure it out now before you try to take someone on.

 

Write Out A Job Spec

 

Now that you have that all figured out, you’re going to be able to write up your job description. And for this, you need to be as informative as possible. You should be able to highlight all of the duties that you need your first employee to have, as well as information on what their desired skills and experience should be. This is especially going to be the case if you need them to be skilled in a particular field, or experienced with a certain program or software.

 

Start By Yourself

 

Then, you’re going to want to have a go at finding your first employee yourself. In the online world, there are so many ways that you’re able to advertise a vacancy, that it’s always a great place to start. Look out for local job boards, head to LinkedIn and try posting on other social media platforms too. You should find that you will get an overwhelming response and will have to be quite stringent with your shortlisting.

 

Call In The Pros

 

However, if you’re unable to see much success by posting online yourself, don’t give up. Instead, you may just need some assistance from professionals in their field. And for this, you should definitely think about using specialists like Portfolio Credit Control rather than going generic. Because sometimes, when you need to fill a particular role, you need recruitment consultants that know the field and what candidates should fill it.

 

Make Your Questions Count

 

Then, when it comes to the interviewing process, you need to be able to ensure that you pick out the right person for the job, and the questions you ask can often help with that. So make sure that you do your research first, formulate a strong question sheet, and can get the answers you need from the people you interview to find the perfect person to hire.

 

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A SIMPLE GUIDE TO FINANCIAL FORECASTING

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Financial forecasting is one of the most important things you can do to manage your future successfully. It’s all about understanding where you need to focus, what you need money for, and understanding your motivations for life. It might not be one of the most thrilling endeavours that you set out on, but it’s far and away one of the most important.

 

It’s a shame, then, that it’s so often ignored. Learning how to financially forecast is not a matter of tuning into your psychic gifts, but just about learning how to structure your life to ensure you get the most from it. Keep in mind these essentials, and you won’t go far wrong.

 

1) Understand Your Financial Weaknesses

 

We all have areas where we are financially weak. Maybe you have a shopping habit, or you spend a little too much on eating out in restaurants. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things; you just need to know where you might need to provide a little extra in the budget.

 

2) Set Goals On A Yearly Basis

 

One of the major mistakes that people make with their financial planning is viewing it on a macro level. In reality, finances are actually best studied on an overall level, moving towards an eventual goal. That’s why it can be helpful to set yourself yearly goals, such as having X amount in savings by the end of the year, rather than always moving month-to-month as conventional budgeting encourages you to do. This kind of forecasting is about predicting what you will be able to do with your finances over the coming 12 months, ensuring that you’re always moving in the right direction.

 

3) Keep An Eye On Retirement

 

It’s a simple fact of financial management; the sooner you start retirement planning, the better. While it might seem a very long way off, retirement should be a time where you can kick back and enjoy life. To plan for such a delightful future, your retirement is always going to need to be in the back of your mind whenever you make a financial decision or commitment. If you leave retirement out of your financial forecast, then the years might catch up to you sooner than you think.

 

4) Give Yourself Leeway To Be Frivolous

 

Sticking to a budget is a good idea, but don’t forget that life should be enjoyed. Every once in awhile, if your finances are looking good, then allow yourself to treat yourself to whatever you fancy. You’ll find these occasional indulgences actually make it easier for you to stick with a solid financial plan for the rest of the time, which means your financial forecast and future will continue to look bright.

 

While it’s all well and good to keep control of your finances, save money where you can, and think about tomorrow — it’s important not to forget about today as well.

 

You should now be well on your way to mapping out a financial forecast that you’re going to love — enjoy it!

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WAYS TO GET HELP WITH YOUR CHILDCARE COSTS

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A recent survey suggested that the cost of holiday childcare has risen 4% since 2016 to an average of £125 per week.  It can be even more challenging for those of us in Northern Ireland with school holidays longer than our counterparts in mainland GB.

 

Finding affordable childcare can be extremely difficult, so below you will find some simple steps that may help you find affordable childcare be that for the summer or if you are returning to work.

 

childcare

Check your entitlements

There are a range of benefits available.  There is a childcare element of working tax credit which is designed to help working parents to cover the cost of their childcare.  The eligibility criteria are not that straightforward to understand so it’s best if you check the Government’s online system here.

 

Free early years childcare

Three and four-year olds get two and half hours of free childcare – although it is referred to as nursery provision.  This is in stark contrast to what they offer in other regions with English parents being offered up to 30 hours per week from September 2017.  So, make sure you are making full use of a nursery place.

 

Childcare vouchers

Some employers welcome childcare vouchers.  They are available to all working parents which are implemented through a ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme.  You could save up to £1800 per year and are available for children up to age 15, or 16 if your child has a disability.

 

Sharing Childcare

If you have decided to go back to work part time, why not consider sharing childcare with a friend?  If you are both part-time it may be possible to work out childcare together which will help reduce the costs.

 

School holiday provision

Summer can be tough on the family budget if you pay for childcare.  Not everyone can take time off for the whole summer or pay for childcare.  Check out your local Council to see what’s happening in your area from low cost summer schemes to summer camps.

 

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TAKING THE FAST TRACK THROUGH THE DEPOSIT DEBACLE

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You don’t need us to tell you about the wealth gap in the UK. There’s enough about it on the news to give us all sleepless nights. But, a brief look at the current property market suggests another problem is creeping up – a divide between generations.


Once upon a time, 100% mortgages meant anyone could own a home. This was possible because house prices were lower, and the risks weren’t as high. But, a mixture of failure to pay, and rising home prices, have made the 100% mortgage a thing of the past. Now, young people have to save an average of £33,000, simply to get a mortgage. Need we remind you that a whole house cost that much not so long ago?

To make matters worse, we’re trapped in a wage stagnation situation, and young people are the worst hit. Since the recession of 2008, salaries for those aged 22-30 have fallen 7%. Add that to ever increasing house prices, and we’re trapped in an impossible situation. In many ways, it seems as though the only young people in with a chance are those who come into money.

But does this mean that the rest of us should give up? Not by any means. Though, it will take a fair amount of work to get on that first rung of the ladder. The main issue is the fact that house prices are ever changing. As little as a few years ago, you could afford to take your time saving a big deposit. Now, though, you don’t have that luxury. The issue, of course, is that the average deposit would take the majority at least three years to save. By which time, the housing market could easily have skyrocketed again. This is especially worrying with the uncertain effects of Brexit still hanging over the housing market.

Hence, you need to find a way to save a lot of money, fast. It won’t be an easy task, but keep your end goal in mind, and know that it could be now or never. To help you on your journey, we’ve put together a few fast deposit pointers.

 

 

Know how much you need

Knowing how much you need to save is essential when you start out. Without a set amount in mind, there’s no way you can keep to a set timeframe. Of course, working out the average deposit isn’t as easy as it might sound. It varies greatly from region to region. For example, prices in London average at £500,000, while that drops to £150,000 in the North-east. So, take this time to consider where your dream area would be. It may be worth opting for a cheaper postcode while you’re starting out.

Then, consider how large your deposit would need to be to afford a basic property. Bear in mind that this is unlikely to be a home which lasts forever. The trick to the property ladder is getting on it by any means necessary. Look at homes which suit your needs, but don’t push yourself for the sake of an idyllic space. If it has enough bedrooms, it’ll serve your purpose.

Your best chance of gaining an idea of prices is to keep an eye on the property market. Once you’ve gotten used to trends and pricing, make your deposit plan. Write down your set amount, and determine how much you’d need to save each month to get it in your timeframe.

 

insolvent

 

Drastically reduce your spending

Considering you’re looking to save quickly, it’s time to reduce your monthly expenses as much as possible. Don’t put yourself on the breadline to do this, but accept that you may have to go without some things. If you’re currently renting, move back in with family. It’s not ideal, but they’re sure to want to help if it’s only for a year or so. Put the money you would be paying on rent straight into your savings.

Other than that, cut out small luxuries. You don’t need them, and yet they probably account for a significant amount of your budget. Stay in rather than eating out. Don’t get that monthly takeaway. You could even cut unnecessary food costs by writing a shopping list instead of winging it. Small steps like this will take you a long way towards home ownership.

Find extra earning potential

As a sideline, you could also find ways to boost your earnings with a second income. How you do this is up to you. You could opt to get a second job. If you work full-time already, consider the hours you have free. Weekend jobs, or cleaning jobs in the evenings, are always good options.

Or, perhaps you want to have more control over your second income. In that case, consider online money making methods. If you’re crafty, set up an online shop and get selling. If you have a good idea and a way with words, why not start a blog and see if you can earn that way?

 

family finances

 

Or, consider borrowing the money

If the above sounds like a sacrifice too many, consider whether you could borrow the money. If possible, borrowing from a family member is your best bet. That way, you won’t have to pay high-interest rates. If you take this route, though, make sure to keep things official. Write up a contract and a repayment plan so that you can clear the debt at a rate which suits. This will make everyone involved feel more at ease.

 

If you have most of the money, but your savings have been stagnating, you could opt for options like installment loans. By taking this step, you can borrow money, and set up clear repayment schemes to rid yourself of debt.

Bear in mind that the key to making this option work is to remain realistic. Consider that you’ll be paying your mortgage, and your lender. With that in mind, only borrow an amount you’ll easily be able to return. Otherwise, you could lose your home anyway.

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6 MONEY SAVING WEDDING HACKS

wedding hacks

This may not exactly be news to you, but getting married these days is an expensive endeavour. If you’re getting ready to tie the knot then you’re likely already aware of the infallible money-making technique that most businesses apply to weddings (which is to say, adding the prefix ‘wedding’ enables them to charge what they like). Between venue hire, catering, entertainments, photographers, flowers, cake, grooming the groom and of course your wedding dress, the average price for a British wedding is £30,111. That’s not even the cost of a particularly extravagant wedding with elephants, fire jugglers and a cutting-edge conceptually driven menu by Heston Blumenthal. Nope, that’s the price tag of a standard-issue British wedding.

 

wedding

 

If you join us in thinking this price-tag unfairly extortionate, then don’t despair! We’ve compiled some thrifty wedding hacks that will allow you to save a substantial amount of money without compromising on quality. Through a combination of smart shopping and making judicious choices, you can offset some of that massive cost.

 

Before we break these money saving hacks down, it’s important to remember an oft-overlooked fact. Your wedding is the opportunity for you and your partner to declare your love in front of your friends and family. That’s what matters. That’s all that matters. Everything else is just window dressing. That said, of course nice things are nice and you want to surround yourself with as many nice things as possible on your big day. The truth, though, is that we as a society falsely equate cost with quality. This post is about saving on cost, not having a wedding that looks and feels cheap and compromised.

 

Anyway, on with the savings…

 

Decide on a budget and stick to it

 

Sounds blatantly obvious? Sure, but it’s astonishing how few couples heed this incredibly simple advice. Between you and your partner (and any generous contributions from family) you should decide on a realistic budget and plan everything around it.

 

If you can, put your wedding savings in a high interest account so that your wedding savings can make you a little extra money in the lead-up to the big day.

 

Guard against mishaps

 

Whenever you get a group of adult humans together, there are bound to be risks of mishap. When you add a multitude of disparate businesses (caterers, photographers, venue staff etc.), children and alcohol then the list of potential mishaps grows exponentially. And that’s assuming that nothing goes wrong prior to the big day i.e. nobody drops the cake, the dress doesn’t get dropped in a puddle and the groom doesn’t spend the night handcuffed naked to a lamp post. For your peace of mind (as well as potentially saving yourself a fortune) we strongly recommend checking out https://wedinsure.co.uk to select a wedding insurance policy that’s right for you. Sure, it’s an extra expenditure, but one that could potentially save your wedding day.

 

wedding

 

Consider going ‘off the peg’ for your dress

 

There’s no such thing as an ugly wedding dress. While many women go all out on a bespoke, designer number there are a great many equally beautiful dresses ‘off the peg’ at a fraction of the price.  

 

Think twice about your dates

 

Everyone wants to get married on a summers’ weekend and the wedding industry is only too happy to inflate its prices accordingly. Considering a glorious winter wedding (or even just not getting married on a Saturday) can save you an absolute fortune. Don’t worry about the availability of your guests. They love you, so they’ll be there whatever date you choose! Which brings us to…

 

Pare down the guest list

 

Narrowing down your guest list to the people you really want to be their and not who you feel obligated to invite, is one of the surest ways to save money on your wedding day. If there’s anyone you’re at-all unsure about then you can always invite them to the evening party and not the wedding itself proper. If you’re open and honest, you’ll see how amenable potential guests are to saving you money.

 

Guard against hidden costs

 

When negotiating with venues, caterers and the like, be sure to confirm that all costs quoted are comprehensive and inclusive. Some underhanded businesses may pull out VAT or corkage as additional costs when the final bill comes, which can have a serious impact on your budget.

 

Your big day doesn’t need to come with a big price tag. By negotiating where you can and resorting to some less conventional options you can have a magical wedding without beginning married life in unimaginable debt.

 

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WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR COMPANY BECOMES INSOLVENT

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When you’re in business, the long-term goals are at the forefront of your mind. One of these goals rarely differs from person to person: make as much money as you can. Whilst this is a good start to have, there’s always the idea of debt lurking on the horizon. So on the other hand, we should also have a debt management plan in place if we’re either regular workers, or if we’re starting our own business. Below are a few tips on how to prepare for and cope with insolvency.

 

insolvent

 

What To Do As An Entrepreneur

 

Having to face bankruptcy as a business owner is extremely hard. Often it can represent a massive decline in your goals, and can make you want to immediately give up. However, there are ways to face business insolvency, with the minimum including help blogs and debt centres designed specifically to be a guiding light.

 

If your company has more liabilities than assets then you risk becoming insolvent. Make sure you know how to read your balance sheet correctly. Always know what current assets you have that can be immediately turned into cash if it would help. This can mean putting on a sale if you have a boutique to help lessen the effects of insolvency.

 

It’s a good idea to reach out for professional advice. As mentioned, you never have to face debts alone, so don’t let yourself.

 

What To Do As An Employee

 

Employees are at just as much risk when a company becomes insolvent as a employer. It doesn’t have to mean the loss of your income straight away, but can affect family life. If your employer no longer has the means to pay you, remember that you have rights. You still have the right to be paid if your employer is trying to sell a business, meaning you can collect any pay once this is done if you’ve been kept on in the meantime.

 

Similarly, you can also experience a temporary layoff. This is a short term solution to handling a company’s insolvency as you won’t be scheduled for shifts in that time, but you’ll still be on the payroll. However, if you’re out of work for longer than a month, you then have the ability to claim redundancy pay.

 

Don’t let yourself feel singled out if you don’t receive the full amount of pay you are owed; this is quite a common occurrence. You’re likely to receive at least a month’s worth of pay, but you cannot claim anything over £500 in a single wage. This is an unlikely pay rate anyway, so gaining what’s owed to you is a fairer game than you might have first thought.

 

Debts don’t have to be the be-all end-all of your business or income. Just make sure you know how to handle them if you find yourself in the situation, and don’t lose sight of the future. We all want to protect what we’ve made, and plenty of options are available for this.

 

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HOW TO TREAT YOUR LOVED ONES WITHOUT GOING BROKE

Whatever the occasion that’s coming up, it can be very difficult to get the perfect gift for your loved one. You want to show them how special they are for you, but money might be too tight to buy diamonds, games consoles, holidays, or other expensive things every single year. Here are some tips on how to treat your loved ones to something special without going broke in the process.

 

treat your loved ones

 

Give them the day off.

Whether it’s your mum or your best friend, nobody can say no to putting their feet up for a day whilst you look after them. You could cook your loved one’s favourite meal, as this won’t break the bank and it’s an incredibly thoughtful gift. You have to actually put effort into this one rather than simply heading into the shop and simply buying something (unless you’re cooking a ready meal, but you might want to put in a little more effort than that). It doesn’t matter how you choose to treat your loved one; just show them how much you care and how much effort you’re willing to put in to give them a rest on their birthday or whatever the occasion might be.

 

Get a good bulk deal.

Rather than spending a lot of money on one specific thing, you could save by buying items in bulk or a bundle of things for one decent price. You could look into cheese hampers if your loved one is a big fan of different cheeses. Then you could dish out one new cheese for every occasion (birthdays, Christmases, and perhaps even anniversaries). The point is that you can save a lot of money by thinking ahead into the future for other events at which you’ll need to buy your loved one something special. You can be thoughtful and still save money; it just requires additional planning ahead of time. Bulk-buy for a good price and rid yourself of your gift-buying fear for future occasions.

 

Give them a sentimental gift.

It’ll make more of an impact on your loved one if you gift them with something that shows just how much you care about them. Photo albums are a great sentimental gift, for example, because they showcase all the great times you’ve shared with your friend, partner, or family member. They’re also tangible unlike Facebook photo albums, so it’s something that your loved one can keep safe forever. Of course, you might prefer to make new memories rather than reflecting on old ones. You could give an experience as a gift to your loved one. A trip to a fair or a lovely day on the beach is something that they’ll remember forever, and that’s far more fun as a present than some novelty expensive item that’ll be forgotten very quickly.

 

gifts

 

Opt for long-lasting gifts.

If you’re going to spend money on a gift then it might as well as be something relatively permanent, so that your gift makes an impact on your loved one for a long time. Candles are a great option in this regard because they add a beautiful ambiance and fragrance to a room, they last a long time, and they’re very cheap.

 

It doesn’t matter what you buy, at the end of the day. What matters is your intention. It’s better to spend nothing and hand-craft a beautifully sentimental gift than to spend a lot of money on something into which you put no thought at all.

 

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SO YOU THINK YOU’RE A SMART SHOPPER?

smart shopper

Everyone that does the weekly grocery run knows that there are plenty of tricks that supermarkets employ to try and get you to spend more money. Everything from mixing the colours of products to putting easy-to-reach snacks near the tills can eventually catch us off guard, and before we know it we’ve fallen into the trap of spending more than we initially intended to.

 

However, thanks to our experience as shoppers, we tend to learn how to avoid these tricks so we can cut down on expenses (and also calories) so we can save money. Frugal shopping isn’t a secret. There are many articles out there that express the importance of smart shopping. However, there are always ways to improve our knowledge, and it all starts with changing what we think we know.

 

smart shopping

 

Do your research

 

We all look at the internet and follow the advice of our friends and family when shopping, but how much of that information is old? Take a look at websites such as Sunny that explain some of the most updated tricks that supermarkets use to try and trick us. Keep up with shopping communities and learn all the latest tips and tricks that you can use to save money. The more you research, the more likely you’ll continue to save money, learn about the latest deals and be able to take advantage of fantastic savings.

 

Watch you who shop with

 

Who do you usually go shopping with? If it’s a friend that loves to spend money, then it’s probably not a good idea to go on regular shopping trips with them. They’ll likely try to convince you to try something else or spend a little and hide your frugal ways for a day or two. While this can be a lot of fun to shop with people and break your habits, you shouldn’t make it a regular thing because you’ll only end up losing money over a long period of time.

 

Don’t be seduced

 

Whether it’s fancy packaging or big labels that tell you something is 50%, don’t let the supermarket seduce you with their colours and designs. If you want to save money on your grocery bill, then you need to stick to your regular purchases. Is there a branded type of cereal that costs twice as much but has a fancy looking discount label that promises you more? Before you know it, you’re going to buying that on a regular basis after trying it because you’ve been seduced by the packaging. Muster up the courage to stick to what you normally buy and don’t let the store change what the reference price in your head is.

 

Freebies usually aren’t always free

 

If you’re smart about shopping then you’ve probably got a store card or a loyalty scheme that helps with your purchases. However, when you get these in the mail, they’re usually discounts only if you spend a certain amount of money. If you have to spend twice your weekly shopping budget just to save 10%, then it’s probably not worth it and you can safely get rid of these unless you plan to purchase a lot of items.

 

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HOW TO SET UP YOUR FAMILY’S FINANCIAL SECURITY

Anyone with a family knows that the future is uncertain. That doesn’t stop all of us working hard to try and make it a little more secure, especially for the kids. You might already be saving hard for the simple things, like a holiday, or a special event. If your kids are proving to be quite academic, you might even be putting cash away for university in the future. Is there any more you could do today that won’t break the bank?

 

If you don’t have a mortgage, chances are you haven’t spent much time thinking about things like life insurance. These policies are designed to cover the cost of the outstanding loan on your house should something happen to you. Sometimes they cover serious injury or illness too. Usually, you have to request extra cover if you want it to cover any additional health costs or your funeral.

 

 

So how can your family cope if something happens to you that means your income is no longer there? Well, a funeral is perhaps the biggest expense they will face straight away. You can avoid them having to deal with that bill at such a bad time by looking into pre-paid funeral plans. You might also choose an insurance policy that promises a prompt payout should it become necessary in the future.

 

Putting a little cash aside each month now can be an affordable approach to ensuring your family can manage if something goes wrong. Of course, these scenarios are, thankfully, unlikely to happen. Instead, you might be keen to find ways to make sure your kids have access to funds for things like their education. What about their first home, and their future wedding? Where should you put your cash for those things?

 

Trust funds are a popular option. This is because the money cannot be touched until certain clauses are met. This might be something like reaching a milestone birthday or graduating with a degree. You are in complete control of this side of things, and it means the money is safe. High-interest options are also high risk, but it does mean your money has a chance to grow while it is waiting to be used.

 

family finances

 

Do you need a Will? It’s considered to be a good idea if you have a family. It means that all your assets are listed and made available. A solicitor will usually take care of everything when the time comes and find the people listed on the Will. Generally speaking, your next of kin inherits everything. A Will gives you the chance to specify who gets what as well as identifying where your money is!

 

family finances

What about a pension? Some private and some company pensions do offer a payout or continued income for your partner and dependents if you’re not around. However, these are the exception, not the rule, so check what benefits are included in your pension plan. You can always set one up that is more suitable to your requirements. Take a look at your household budget. Can you be sure that these bills can be met if you weren’t around?

 

 

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