Thursday, 2 December 2010

Savings advice - How to get started on the road to financial independence.

Understanding savings
Getting into the saving habit is easier than it sounds and will give you greater long-term security and peace of mind. There's no time like the present to develop savvy saving habits that can help you become financially independent.
·         Do you have any extra money sitting in your current account?
·         Not sure how much interest you’re making on your savings?
·         Do you think you could save more if you changed some of your spending habits?
·         Are you hoping to splash out on something special in the future, but don’t know where the money will come from?
Answering yes to any of those questions means you should consider how you could make your money work harder for you – both in the short and long term. And that means: saving.

Of course, thinking about tomorrow when today's demands are so pressing can be difficult. However, with housing and retirement costs rising, plus all those other costs along the way such as your children's education or even the threat of redundancy, it's more important than ever that you get smart about saving.

Why save?

There are many reasons why people save, but here are the three main ones:

1) So you're safely covered for life's unexpected twists and turns.
As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to have at least three months' worth of living expenses saved up to protect yourself and your family in case you can't work due to an accident, illness or unemployment. However, if you're like a lot of people, you may not have this much available.

The average person could only last 52 days if they found themselves out of work (this is based on average monthly outgoings of £1,445 and average accessible savings of £2,474), and many people only have savings of £500 or less.

You may never need to use this money but knowing it’s there puts your mind at rest, especially in a volatile economy.

2) To create a lump sum for improving your lifestyle – and your family's lifestyle – in the future.
A deposit on a house? Tuition fees for your children when it's time for them to go to university? A comfortable retirement? At some point in the future, you will probably need to have access to a sizable amount of money that you can either use all at once or draw on over time. Either way, you should start saving toward that day now, because the sooner you start, the sooner you will reach your goal.

3) So you can buy a particular item in the future that you can't afford right now.
This is the exact opposite of buy now, pay later - which was the prevailing attitude in the recent boom times. Wouldn't it be great to have money in the bank you could use to buy the things you wanted or needed without increasing your debts?

How safe are your savings?

You may be worried that if you tie your money up in a savings account, it won't be protected. However, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme is an independent body that serves as a last resort to cover most deposits, including savings, paid in to retail bank accounts. So, if for some reason your bank couldn't return your full savings deposit, the majority of your money would still be protected.

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