02 Aug Summer to do list
At last summer is here and the kids have finished school. Obviously, summer actually started weeks ago but if you have children you have probably just had, or are about to have, your summer holiday. Depending on what profession you work in this may also be a time of less pressure at work and the ability to spend some more time with your family.
If you are anything like my wife and I, the first thing to try and work out is how to keep the kids occupied during the summer holidays. Hopefully you’ll have this under control having spent weeks booking activities and juggling diaries so that you hear the dreaded “I’m bored” as little as possible.
Assuming you have used your years of experience and excellent parental diary management skills and have all this sorted, you might also find yourself with some time to actually think about things other than work or the children. Maybe even while relaxing by the pool, when you get back from holiday or simply have some time off.
When I find some time, the first thing I try and do is to read the hardback book that I promised myself I would read when I had time, particularly given that reading anything other than via a Kindle for me means lugging a heavy book backwards and forwards to work. However, if you have already managed to do this and want to get around to some of the jobs on your to do list that never seem to get done, here is a brief list of some of the tasks you could do or at least think about (I am not saying that any are a fun way to spend your time, but they are all probably worthwhile).
The dreaded tax return
Definitely not the most fun thing to do but it needs doing before 31st January, or 31st October if you want to file a paper return. Why not get it done now when you have some time rather than leave it nagging at you until right before the deadline? If you have an accountant or tax adviser who does this for you, you can still collate all the information they might need and surprise them by sending this in early. I know that most accountants would appreciate this as, not unsurprisingly, the majority of their clients send everything in at the last minute.
If you use a financial planner or do your own cash flow forecasts, one of the first things that is needed is an idea of what your current lifestyle costs. This allows a financial plan to be constructed based on some degree of reality, and what you spend now can be used as an indication of the cost implications of what you might like your lifestyle to look like in the future.
I have previously written a blog, https://financialjamming.com/expenditure-what-do-i-spend/, on how to calculate your expenditure and there aren’t many short cuts. Downloading bank account transactions to an Excel spreadsheet is usually the most accurate but pay attention to funds that are just moving around between accounts.
Don’t forget to check those direct debits that get taken each month but are for things you no longer use or don’t need (that magazine subscription that you have forgotten about!)
Investment portfolio rebalance
If you currently manage your own investments, now is a good time to look at the overall asset allocation and decide if you need to rebalance your portfolio. Again, this is not necessarily a straightforward task and probably involves another spread sheet. However, it is essential for any good investment process and it is good discipline to regularly rebalance your portfolio to ensure that the level of risk you are happy to take is what you are exposing your portfolio to. It is very easy for a portfolio to get out of kilter and you don’t want to realise after the next market correction that your portfolio had drifted to a level of risk you are uncomfortable taking and incurred a greater fall than it would have if the correct asset allocation had been maintained.
When did you and your partner last review your existing wills to see if they still reflect your wishes? Or if you don’t have wills then this is a great time to discuss what you may like to include in
Even if you just find a local solicitor or get some idea of the costs of will drafting or a review, now would be a good time.
Wills are an essential document that ensure that your financial affairs are left well organised on your death and that your wishes are carried out.
Lasting powers of attorney (LPA)
I have recently written a blog, https://financialjamming.com/lasting-powers-of-attorney/, about the benefits of having LPAs and now may be a good time to discuss this and decide who you would like to be your attorneys.
Insurance policy check
When did you last check all of your insurance policies to see if you still need them, whether you can get better rates elsewhere or whether they are appropriate for your circumstances now? General insurances such as home, car and travel are usually reviewed at renewal but if any are due soon you could make a start on this now.
Protection insurances such as life assurance or income protection may also need to be reviewed to see if you need additional cover or whether they are still needed at all. Do you now have cover through your employer or business and therefore an old personal policy may no longer be needed? Have you increased or repaid your mortgage so the original life assurance policy needs to be reviewed?
A word of caution here – don’t immediately assume a policy is not required and cancel it before checking what other needs you may have. Replacing a policy that you subsequently find you need can be more expensive as you are older and may not be in such good health as you once were.
Contact a Financial Planner or other adviser
You may have been putting off making that initial contact with a solicitor, tax adviser or financial planner but if you have some time why not do it now?
Most of the things earlier in this list would be discussed and dealt with by a good financial planning firm giving you more time in the future to do what you really want to do.
It can be worth checking that you are on the best deal for your energy usage and, if you are inclined, seeing if your provider offers a green tariff. If you consider a green tariff be aware that not all providers are the same and some green tariffs are ‘greener’ than others.
Whatever you manage to do with any down time you get over the summer holidays remember to make sure you spend the majority of it with your family and get some rest. Failing that there is always the gardening!