Lockdown lifted your savings? Top tips for making your money work for you
Michael Copeland, senior area manager at Wesleyan Financial Services, explores how dentists can get the most out of their lockdown savings.
In the face of new infection control protocols and looming backlogs of patients to see, managing personal finances might have understandably fallen to the bottom of your to-do list.
Lockdown might, however, give you the opportunity to save more than usual. Our own research found that, on average, individuals did just that.
If you have been able to put some extra away, it is important to consider how you can use this money to support your personal and financial goals and make it work as hard as you do.
Here are four key things to think about when it comes to using those extra lockdown savings.
Review your savings plans and targets
Accompany any savings habit with a savings strategy. Understanding what you need the money for, combined with your own personal circumstances, will help you determine the best way to manage your money.
An ability to save that little bit extra over the past year might have meant that you’re now closer to any existing goals you had established. Or in a better position to set-up new ones.
As a very first step it is important to review your targets to ensure they align with your current circumstances.
Before putting money towards any goals, however, consider whether you need to start, or top-up, an emergency fund for a rainy day first.
Setting aside three months’ worth of net household income is a good starting buffer. With this in place, you can then think about committing money to other savings pots.
Don’t overlook retirement
For some, retirement can feel like a long way off. But it’s important to start planning for the day you step back from your practice as early as possible.
You may want to consider putting any extra lockdown savings towards your retirement plans. Speaking to a financial consultant can help you understand the best way to put your money towards your retirement. Be it investing or by purchasing additional pension through the NHS Pension Scheme.
If you haven’t yet established a retirement strategy, now could be the perfect time to do so.
Again, a financial consultant can support with this process. They can help you calculate the financial implications of choices such as buying additional pension. As well as understanding when you can start to withdraw funds from your pension savings.
Investing, investing, investing
With interest rates currently lower than inflation, simply keeping cash in the bank means that the value of your savings effectively falls over time.
Putting some of your extra lockdown savings into investments can provide a way to grow your wealth by helping to beat low interest rates, outperform inflation and build new income streams.
And you don’t need huge sums to start investing. Any amount of money you can put to work.
The very first thing to consider is whether investing is right for you.
Investing isn’t a ‘quick win’ and generally takes place over longer periods of time. At least five years, but typically longer. If you know you might need your savings sooner, investing might not be the right option.
You will also need to consider your appetite to risk. The value of your investments can go down as well as up.
Using your tax-free savings allowances can help you make the most out of the lockdown cash you’ve put aside.
Putting your money in an Individual Savings Account (ISA) is a good option to consider.
You can save up to £20,000 tax-free into an ISA for both the 2020-21 tax year and for the upcoming 2021-2022 with no tax charged on any interest earned.
The deadline for using your ISA allowance for 2020-21 is midnight on 5 April. You cannot carry over any unused allowance from year to year.
There is a range of ISA types you can use. For example, a cash ISA allows you to save money in cash. Meanwhile, a ‘stocks and shares’ ISA – such as Wesleyan’s With Profits ISA – allows you to make investments with your money in assets like funds, bonds or individual stocks.
The Wesleyan With Profits Fund was recently ranked first place by independent actuarial services provider Barnett Waddingham. The five-year net return is 7.31%, which puts the fund in first out of 20* funds for overall performance. And because it’s an ISA, customers didn’t pay tax on any returns they earnt.
Whatever your savings position – and however much extra you’ve saved over lockdown – speaking to a financial consultant can help you understand the best way to use your money to support your personal and financial goals.
At Wesleyan Financial Services, we understand dentists’ unique financial needs. Our specialist financial consultants are on hand to offer advice at every stage of your savings journey. From setting targets through to reviewing your pension savings.
For more information visit: www.wesleyan.co.uk/secure/dentists-1002662.
Keep in mind that investment values are not guaranteed and can go down as well as up. You could get back less than you invest.
*Only 20 of 65 funds provided five-year net return data for comparison.