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4 Ways to Feel More “At Home” in Your Home

Do you feel “at home” in your home?

Your home is often the biggest financial purchase you’ll ever make. But is it also giving you the emotional payoffs you hope for?

Your home is an important part of your financial plan because we have to consider your rent or mortgage, utility bills, maintenance, and taxes as part of your monthly and long-term financial picture. But to get the best life possible with the money you have, your home should also be a safe place that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed.

Here are four things to consider when trying to make your residence feel more like home.

Your personal touches.

In this age of social media and free two-day delivery, it’s never been more tempting to get sucked into “Keeping up with the Joneses.” But if you’re always trying to surpass you neighbour’s latest big splurge, you won’t be creating a space that’s truly yours. You’ll just be buying a copy of someone else’s idea of home.

Forget about the celebrity Instagram boards, and instead think about how to make your house reflect your family’s passions and stories. Turn an unused bedroom into a workshop or personal study. Bring those old family photo boxes down to a framer and breathe new life into your walls. Brighten up shelves with mementos from favorite trips.

If you’re considering additions or garden amenities, try thinking about these changes in terms of the experiences they can create for you and your loved ones. Sure, a hot tub sounds nice. But a new patio and some green space might be a more versatile and welcoming environment for family gettogethers. Upgrading your kitchen might allow your inner master chef to blossom into a truly talented cook.

Your personal comfort.

Sometimes less flashy upgrades to your living space have the biggest impact. A brand-new mattress isn’t as exciting as a garden hot tub, but you’re certainly not going to spend 8 hours every day soaking!

If you’ve been sleeping in the same bed and siting on the same settee for close to a decade, do some furniture shopping. Get some new pillows and sheets, or an ergonomic computer chair. These improvements aren’t just cosmetic – they’ll help you rest better and feel better.

Many of us also live with little quirks that have a negative impact on how we feel about our homes: that room that doesn’t get warm enough in the winter, a leaky sink, a living room with enough lighting for TV but not enough to read by, that cupboard under the stairs that’s going to explode someday. Minor household repairs and good old-fashioned spring cleaning can bring some welcome calm to the clutter we all accumulate.

Your personal geography.

Real estate pros like to say the three most important qualities in a home are: location, location, location. But the perfect spot for your first home might not be the perfect place to get married, raise a family, and start your own business. Once your kids move out of the house and have families of their own, your feelings about where you live might change yet again.

Your home city might become more or less appealing to you over time as well. Beloved businesses and restaurants close. New establishments take their place. Friends come and go. The cost of living can fluctuate.

If your community no longer provides you the same comfort, activities, social circle, and engagement that it once did, it might be time to consider a move. This could be another reason to explore buying a second home for extended weekends closer to your family or vacations that allow you to explore your passions.

Your personal journey.

As your life changes, your experience of home will change along with it, especially as retirement nears. The big family home might become a difficult empty nest for you and your spouse to maintain as you age. The familiar comforts of home might start to create a restless sort of discomfort. You might feel drawn to new places, new people, and new experiences to keep your golden years fresh and stimulating.

Or, like more and more retirees, you might decide that your current home truly is where your heart is. You might “retire in place” and give your current home some TLC that will prepare it for the next phase of your life.

So what does “home” mean to you? We are happy for you talk to us about creating a financial plan that will provide you with as much comfort as your favourite reading chair.

 

 

 

Giving: How to Do The Most Good Without Disrupting Your Financial Plan

Many studies have shown that charitable giving provides greater happiness than buying more stuff. Eventually, you get used to your fancy new car, and the level of  enjoyment it provides goes down. But giving forges feelings of connectedness and community that don’t fade away.

Incorporating charitable giving into your financial plan is a great way to make sure that your generosity is aligned with the things that are most important to you. Some forethought about these key issues will also make sure that your good intentions don’t throw off the rest of your own long-term planning:

  1. Have a purpose.

The most effective charitable giving is thoughtful and intentional. It may be helpful for you and your spouse to ask yourselves some questions that will narrow your focus, such as:

  • Do we want to give to a national or local cause?
  • Are there pressing issues in our community that we feel we can help impact?
  • Do we have any personal connections to causes, such as medical research or support for the arts?
  • Do we want to support friends or family by contributing to causes that impact their lives or fulfill their passions?
  • Do we want to support a religious organisation, such as our church?
  • Are our charitable impulses motivated by on-going problems, such as education or homelessness, or would we rather position ourselves to react to events such as natural disasters?
  1. Do your homework.

Once you’ve settled on a cause, do some research on potential recipients. Visit the local charity you’d like to support and meet with its leadership team. Is the organisation running itself responsibly? Are there good, competent people in charge? Will these people get the job done? Don’t sink your money into a well-intentioned black hole.

If you’re looking to give to a national organisation, keep in mind that even some of the biggest names have come under fire lately from watchdog groups for misusing donations. Make sure you’re giving to an organisation that’s doing what it says it’s going to do with your money.

Also, remember that big organisations – even charities – must manage things like overheads, salaries, and insurance. Are you happy supporting the organisation itself? If you want to see your money in action more visibly, you might be happier giving locally.

  1. Beware the internet.

Whenever something bad happens in the world, our inboxes and social media are flooded with donation links. Read before you click. Be especially wary of crowd-funded campaigns on sites like GoFundMe. The cause may sound worthy, but these sites do not provide meaningful oversight on every campaign. Your money could be going to a cause, or it could be going straight into a scam artist’s pocket. You’ll never know

Landscape – Why Delay? You Can Start Improving Your Health Right Now!

A busy 40- to 50-hour work week, kids that need shuttling to and from school and extra-curriculars … and a gradually decreasing metabolism.

Sound familiar?

Young, working couples with no kids may have more time to be active and healthy. Long morning walks, three trips to the gym every week playing sport with friends cooking their way through gourmet recipes.

Then life happens. Children, promotions at work that lead to more responsibility and longer hours.

A couple’s free time together begins to dry up. Five-a- side night turns into crashing on the couch for a few hours before bed. Weekend bike trips or trivia nights turn into weekend rushes to and from kids’ parties or sporting activities and gourmet cookbooks are replaced by fast food menus.

Then there’s the money crunch. Even couples with a financial plan in place tend to worry more about money once a mortgage, car payments, and children enter the picture. Many couples start pinching pennies at the expense of their creature comforts and well-being. New clothes and a replacement for that worn-out mattress aren’t as important as saving for college tuition or eventual retirement. Frozen meals and take-aways are quick fixes when there’s so little time to cook a good meal before your daughter’s dance lessons.

The Result

The risks involved when we start neglecting our health are real, and harder to correct as we continue to age. But there are emotional consequences as well, especially if one spouse slips out of shape faster than the other. Innocuous suggestions like, “Let’s take a trip to the farmer’s market” or “How about we re-start our gym membership?” can feel laced with criticism. A loss of confidence, feelings of depression, and inattentiveness to basic hygiene and appearance can follow. Money – already the most common source of marital friction – will continue to be a barrier to self-improvement. Unhealthy people don’t like being told they’re unhealthy, and will often put off preventative care, like annual checkups.

If you or your spouse are struggling with a similar scenario, take a moment to work through the following questions and suggestions together:

Questions to Ask

Are you and your spouse able to maintain your health without any financial stress?

Do you and your spouse regularly confirm your health and overall well-being with your doctors?

Is your level of physical activity higher or lower now than it used to be? If you’re about to retire, do you anticipate a more or less active lifestyle?

What are some physical recreational activities that you enjoy?

What is a recreational activity you’ve never tried, but deep down always wanted to try?

How old is your furniture, especially your bed and mattress?

How many fresh meals do you and your spouse cook and eat at home every week?

Steps to Take

Landscape – How Will You Practice Your “ART” in Retirement?

A hammock on the beach. Your favourite chair in the living room. Waking up when you feel like it. A blank diary. Doing what you want when you want. Doing nothing if that’s how you feel that day.

After a lifetime of working 35 hours or more every week, this scenario sure sounds appealing to many soon-to-be retirees. But the surprising reality is that a life of unstructured leisure can create stress, strain spousal relationships, and lead to feelings of uselessness and depression.

When today’s successful retirees stop working, they learn the “ART” of retirement. It’s about Activity, Relationships, and Time. They experiment. They try new things. They make new connections. And eventually, they create a new daily routine focused on the people and passions that make their lives fulfilling.

Activity

Jack just retired. He has no idea how to spend his time anymore. So, he potters around the house, fixing stuff that isn’t broken, rearranging things that don’t need to be rearranged, watching a lot of TV … and driving his wife, Jill, crazy.

We chuckle when we see a scenario like this play out in a film or TV show. But Retired Hubby or Wife Syndrome is a very real problem. Many senior couples have spent eight hours or more apart from each other every single day for decades. Then, suddenly, they’re together all the time!

Often, this is the moment when spouses realise they each have very different ideas about what retirement is going to be like. One spouse might have visions of a spending their time in the garden whereas the other might have plans to see the world. Somewhere in between those expectations are the activities that are going to make retirement worthwhile for both people.

The things you do in retirement should be meaningful, stimulating, and energising. Your passions should be your guide to a new routine – both with your spouse, and apart from him or her. Take professional lessons to turn a hobby like golf or painting into a real skill. Volunteer at a charity that’s close to your heart. You and your spouse can indulge your inner foodies with weekly date nights to try out all the new hot spots in town.

Relationships

Your spouse isn’t the only person you’ll be seeing more often in retirement. Your relationships with the rest of your friends and family are also going to change now that you’re no longer working. This too can be difficult, as many of the people you spent your workdays with recede from your day-to-day routine.

But this can also be a wonderful opportunity to connect with the people who matter the most to you. Once you and your spouse make it through the initial adjustment period, in my mother and fathers case this took at least 12 months I have to warn you, you’ll be able to spend time doing the things that brought you together in the first place. Planning trips and extended vacations around your children and grandchildren will create meaningful experiences that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.

Your social diary also gets a whole lot bigger. Fill it up! Organize your friends for a weekly round of golf. Plan date nights with other retired couples. If there are people you lost touch with due to the grind of working and raising a family, reconnect.

Time

Time without the structure that work provides can be challenging for retirees. The very notion of time can take on new meaning. Without meetings and project deadlines to worry about, time can seem so limitless that it’s overwhelming. It’s like an artist staring at a blank canvas—where do you begin?

So how will you fill your day? Will you start taking an hour to do things that used to take 10 minutes when you were working? Will you sleep later? What new routines will you start?

The good news is, many of today’s retirees are more active, more connected to their communities, more adventurous, more ALIVE than they’ve ever been! And they organise their time in retirement around the activities and relationships that make them feel happy and fulfilled.

Perfecting your ART

Retirement is an ART you have to work to perfect. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn from them and adjust. You might load up your days with activities, only to find that having a bit less structure allows you to explore your options. You might find the initial lack of structure maddening, and work on a new routine. You might try a part-time job. You might like it. You might not.

There’s no one way to have a successful retirement. But the sooner you start working to refine your ART, the more beautiful your retirement picture will be.

Spring Statement 2018

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his first Spring Statement to Parliament on 13 March 2018. In a break with recent tradition, the chancellor did not use the financial statement midway between Budgets to present a ‘mini-Budget’ or pre-Budget report.

The chancellor’s Spring Statement 2018 is a response to the Office for Budget Responsibilities’ (OBR’s) latest economic and fiscal forecasts and provides an opportunity to set out government priorities and consultations ahead of the Autumn Budget later this year.

Projections for growth

Mr Hammond upgraded projections for growth and predicted falling inflation, debt and borrowing in his 26-minute statement. He claimed the UK economy had reached a turning point and there was ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

The UK economy will grow faster this year than previously forecast and the deficit will be some £5 billion lower, with the overall economic and fiscal picture ‘broadly the same’ according to the OBR.

Future spending rises

He ruled out an immediate end to austerity but hinted at possible spending rises in the future, announcing to the House of Commons that growth was forecast to be 1.4% this year, 0.1% higher than forecast by the OBR in November, with the forecast for 2019 and 2020 unchanged at 1.3%.

Mr Hammond said debt would fall as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – the main measure of UK economic growth based on the value of goods and services produced during a given period – from 2018/19, which would be the start of ‘the first sustained fall in debt for 17 years, a turning point in the nation’s recovery from the financial crisis of a decade ago’.

Public sector borrowing

Mr Hammond revealed that public sector net borrowing in 2017/18 would be £45.2 billion, down from the £49.9 billion forecast in November and as a share of GDP that would be 2.2%, lower than the 2.4% previously expected.

He also hinted at possible spending increases to come in his Autumn Budget when he will ‘set an overall path for public spending for 2020 and beyond’ with a detailed spending review in 2019.

Click here to read our guide to the Spring Statement 2018.

What does the Spring Statement mean for you, your family and your business?

If you would like to review your personal or business plans to ensure they still remain on track, or if you have any further questions, please contact us.

Landscape – Say Hello to ….

Here at Carpenter Rees, we are very proud of our team and particularly as they all share our passion for providing an excellent service to clients.

To meet growing demands and to ensure that we can continue to deliver the service that we pride ourselves on, we have recently expanded our Technical and Research team (otherwise known as Paraplanners) and would therefore like to introduce you to our two new members, Karl and Joel.

Karl Huggins

Karl is a resident audiophile – so engage him in conversation about vinyl and speaker cables at your peril!  Karl tells us that he loves Paraplanning, which for him is a refreshing change after a lifetime in life offices.  He enjoys meeting clients and knowing his work has a positive impact on their lives. He is currently working towards the CII Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

In his spare time, he can be found in the swimming pool, at HOME cinema and post-viewing socials or at a wonderful variety of gigs.  He is also learning (slowly) how to play the guitar.

 

Joel Tipping

The newest member of Carpenter Rees and a recent arrival from Melbourne (Australia), Joel has slotted seamlessly into the Manchester way of life. A staunch City supporter, Northern Quarter aficionado; you’ll often find him down at the Nelson in Didsbury regaling the locals with tales of sun & surf.

Joel has been working in the financial planning industry since 2002 and brings a different outlook to the team at Carpenter Rees.  He holds the Advanced Diploma of Financial Planning (Australia) and is currently working towards the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).

When not at the Nelson, he enjoys cycling, running, spending time with the family, and chasing the illusive flat white.

Karl and Joel both bring valuable skills and knowledge to Carpenter Rees …. So if you’d like to put this to the test, or just want to know more about them, please do get in touch.

Merry Christmas

We would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and also thank you for your support over the last 12 months.

The office will be closed from 1pm on Friday 22nd December 2017 and will re-open on Tuesday 2nd January 2018.

As in previous years, in lieu of sending Christmas cards, this year we have donated to

 

 

Autumn Budget 2017

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his second Budget to Parliament on 22 November 2017. 

In every Budget there are winners and losers and Autumn Budget 2017 was no different. In his keynote speech given to MPs in the Commons, Mr Hammond signalled that he will allocate funds to ‘invest to secure a bright future for Britain’, saying the Budget is about much more than Brexit.

Under pressure to deliver a bold and positive vision of the UK’s future, Mr Hammond started the speech with an upbeat introduction to the economy, defying the expectations of more negative forecasts and promising to face challenges head on, seeking out opportunities. He laid out his plans for tax, housing and travel, but his ability to manoeuvre was limited by figures that showed large downgrades to the UK’s future path of GDP and productivity growth. 

The Chancellor resisted the temptation of making major changes to the pension system to raise cash. The only notable change was that the lifetime allowance for pension savings is set to increase in line with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), rising to £1,030,000 for the tax year 2018/19. To encourage people to save adequately for their futures, he also announced that the annual allowance, a limit on the amount that can be contributed to your pension each year while still receiving tax relief, will remain at £40,000.

Personal taxes were largely left unchanged, though personal allowances and the higher tax threshold will be increased from April next year. The now annual obligatory freeze of fuel duties was delivered, but new levies on diesel cars were announced.

Click here  to read our guide to the Autumn budget 2017

Want to discuss the impact of Autumn Budget 2017 on your personal or business situation?

Overall, this was not the bold, game-changing Budget that many in the Chancellor’s own party were demanding. If you would like review what action you may need to take to keep your personal and business plans on track, or if you have any further questions, please contact us.

 

 

Reasons to be cheerful

If you are like me, you will often listen to the news or read the papers and think the world is going to the dogs! The depressing headlines appear to be endless, but if you look beyond the media, there are a lot of things that are going right.

The world faces many challenges – but then it always will. The legacy of the financial crisis is still with us, the UK’s exit from the EU is likely to be a constant source of speculation for a considerable period, terrorist attacks continue to cause carnage, and we cannot ignore the entertainment that the US President is providing!

So, it’s no wonder that its’ easy to forget the good things, but they are worth keeping in mind when you are overwhelmed by the grim headlines.

Here are several reasons to be cheerful: –

  1. Over the last 25 years, 2 billion people globally have moved out of extreme poverty according to the latest UN Human Development Report.
  2. Over that same period, mortality rates among children under the age of 5 have fallen by 53% from 91 deaths per 1000 to 43 deaths per 1000.
  3. The UK economy continues to grow and will continue to do so.
  4. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), happiness levels in Britain have climbed to their highest rate since 2011 (when they first started measuring it)! Okay, so the Government measuring happiness levels is a little concerning, but apparently, we are a happier nation.
  5. We have the highest level of employment in the UK since records began in 1971.
  6. Renewable energy sources are now accounting for 23% of global electricity generation and are expected to rise to 26% by 2020.
  7. We live in a world of rapid innovation and one report estimates the digital economy accounts for 22.5% of global economic output and this will continue to grow.
  8. Mortgage repayments continue to be cheap and despite the likelihood of an increase in interest rates are likely to remain so for some time due to fierce competition amongst lenders.
  9. It is unlikely that we will have an election next year, but as we love nothing more than entertaining the world with a good old British comedy farce, maybe we shouldn’t bet against it!
  10. Early form would suggest that the premier league is likely to be won by a side from Manchester; but one half of the city will clearly be disappointed at the season end.
  11. Christmas is on its way!

The world is far from perfect and it faces many challenges, but just as it is important to be realistic and aware of the downsides, we must also recognise the advances we are making. Where there is reason for caution, there is always reason for hope.

Keep the good things in mind when you feel overwhelmed by the bad – there will always be reasons to be cheerful …. In the words of Monty Python ‘Always look on the bright side of life’!

Planning for your ‘Financial Independence’

One of the critical aspects of Retirement Planning; or as we like to call it, your Financial Independence, is structuring your financial affairs to make sure that you have enough money to ensure that, if and when you stop working you can spend your time the way you want to, doing those things that you always intended to do.

 Too complicated to think about – A survey conducted by BlackRock’s Investor Pulse showed that in the main, the biggest financial priority for individuals surveyed was ‘funding a comfortable retirement’. Yet many people spend more time planning their holiday that their retirement – perhaps because planning for retirement seems too complicated to think about.

Don’t know where to start – We are all living longer, the State Pension Age is increasing and pensions legislation is ever changing. Understandably, we want an active, comfortable retirement but often don’t know where to start the savings process.  If confusion and a lack of understanding around your retirement needs have led to put you off planning and saving, you’re not alone – in fact, over half of people in the UK are in the same position.

However, the sooner you start to plan, the sooner you will start to consider the changes you can make to ensure that you are in control of your ‘financial independence’.

 Consider the following steps: –

Step 1 ~ Target

Know what you need – set yourself a target.

The closer you are to retirement, the more likely you are to know how much income you will need to cover your outgoings. If you have longer to go until retirement, it is still good to have an idea of what you are aiming for – and you should review this every year as you get closer.

Step 2 ~ Plan

Know what you already have.

Understanding what you already have will help you understand how far you are towards your retirement target. If you have several different pension plans, it may be worth considering bringing these all together into one account.  In addition to pension plans, your financial independence may also be reliant on other assets, investments or income so it’s important to consider these too.

Step 3 ~ Action

What you need to think about

  • Are you saving the right amount?
  • Are you invested in the right kind of funds?
  • When can you realistically retire / reach financial independence?

How close are you to reaching your financial independence? We can help you understand your own situation and retirement goals and then align these with what you already have in order to identify how close, or not, you may be to achieving your goals. We can then help you put appropriate measures in place to help you spend your future doing those things that you always intended to do.