This festive season, we are living in a world like no other. Many of us are still reeling from the pandemic in addition to inflation, low interest rates and wars across Europe and the Middle East. All these circumstances have ushered in unwelcome volatility in the markets. This leaves many of us looking towards 2024 with a degree of apprehension.
“Do not waste time on what you cannot control.” – Marcus Aurelius
Make 2024 a Year of Control
We can’t change the course of events but we can take control of our own situations and this will help us feel more optimistic about the future – whatever it holds. So, where should one start?
Pay Yourself First
It’s an age-old practice that many of us have neglected. We put our mortgage payments or other bills first. This approach is quick and easy to implement. Simply allocate a portion of your salary each month to your savings and pension accounts. This practice will ensure you cultivate a healthy savings habit and your “Future Self” will thank you! Knowing that you are working towards a decent size pension and savings pot will give you a sense of control and sense of empowerment that many do not have the liberty of.
In previous times, mortgage holders could switch and shift providers. These days are not completely gone, but it is certainly harder to get better deals easily (that’s why many clients come to us – we do the legwork for them). However, shopping around can include areas such as:
- Savings: The old adage, “If you save, save better”, holds water. Explore different savings account options and book a reminder in your calendar to compare interest rates and be willing to switch accounts if a better opportunity arises.
- Pension: A pension is perhaps the largest savings scheme you will ever enter into. Perhaps your pension performance is ticking along nicely. However, if you have a number of years until retirement, why not explore investment strategies that offer a higher return annually.
- Protection: When we meet clients for the first time, it’s astonishing how many are paying high premiums for insufficient cover or paying twice for the same or similar cover. It’s important to review what you are paying for and what it covers. You might be surprised what you can save each month.
- Direct Debits: I’ll be honest, I’m one of those people who have paid for gym membership, never to cross the threshold more than a handful of times! In 2018, a survey by Deloitte revealed the high cost of gym membership in Ireland. Across Europe, Ireland was the second most expensive (at €48 per month) with Switzerland taking the top spot at an average of €60 per month. Despite this, 25% of Irish adults are a member of a gym or fitness club. It’s worth reviewing your gym usage and perhaps look to pause or cancel your membership altogether. While you are reviewing this direct debit, review the other subscriptions that are leaving your account each month. If you are paying for four different streaming services, ask yourself – how many can I watch at the same time?
- Banks: Both Ulster Bank and KBC bank announced their planned departure from Ireland in 2021. That move was completed in 2023, but the move was not without headaches. This in effect, leaves Ireland with an effective duopoly. Bank of Ireland and AIB have now more spending power to outbid any smaller rivals in the market. There have been some “disruptors” moving into the market in recent years, most notably N26 and Revolut. Whoever you bank with, ask yourself if you know what you are being charged per quarter, is there a more cost effective way to bank and are there less traditional ways to store your money on a daily basis (we’re thinking more N26 than under a mattress!
Your Future, Planned, Protected and in Your Control
Lynx Financial Services has been helping clients to take control of their financial future for over 25 years. We work with individuals looking to maximise their investments to secure everything from mortgages and investments, to protection and pensions. If you need financial clarity control, we can help. We focus on the results, so you can get on with the important things and look forward to a secure and protected future. Get in touch today and start your journey. We don’t do jargon, just facts. Book a consultation today to get started.