Déjà vu all over again!

Investment fads come and go. Letting short-term trends influence your approach may be counterproductive to pursuing your financial goals.

Investment fads are nothing new. When selecting strategies for their portfolios, investors are often tempted to seek out the latest and greatest investment opportunities. Over the years, these approaches have sought to capitalise on developments such as the perceived relative strength of particular geographic regions, technological changes in the economy, or the popularity of different natural resources. But long-term investors should be aware that letting short-term trends influence their investment approach may be counterproductive. As Nobel laureate Eugene Fama said, “There’s one robust new idea in finance that has investment implications maybe every 10 or 15 years, but there’s a marketing idea every week.”

What’s Hot Becomes What’s Not

Looking back at some investment fads over recent decades can illustrate how often trendy investment themes come and go. In the early 1990s, attention turned to the rising “Asian Tigers” of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. A decade later, much was written about the emergence of the “BRIC” countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China and their new place in global markets. Similarly, funds targeting hot industries or trends have come into and fallen out of vogue. In the 1950s, the “Nifty Fifty” were all the rage. In the 1960s, “go-go” stocks and funds piqued investor interest. Later in the 20th century, growing belief in the emergence of a “new economy” led to the creation of funds poised to make the most of the rising importance of information technology and telecommunication services. During the 2000s, 130/30 funds, which used leverage to sell short certain stocks while going long others, became increasingly popular. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, “Black Swan” funds, “tail-risk-hedging” strategies, and “liquid alternatives” abounded. As investors reached for yield in a low interest-rate environment in the following years, other funds sprang up that claimed to offer increased income generation, and new strategies like unconstrained bond funds proliferated. More recently, strategies focused on peer-to-peer lending, cryptocurrencies, and even cannabis cultivation and private space exploration have become more fashionable. In this environment, so-called “FAANG” stocks and concentrated exchange-traded funds with catchy ticker symbols have also garnered attention among investors.

The Fund Graveyard

Unsurprisingly, however, numerous funds across the investment landscape were launched over the years only to subsequently close and fade from investor memory. While economic, demographic, technological, and environmental trends shape the world we live in, public markets aggregate a vast amount of dispersed information and drive it into security prices. Any individual trying to outguess the market by constantly trading in and out of what’s hot is competing against the extraordinary collective wisdom of millions of buyers and sellers around the world.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to point out the fortune one could have amassed by making the right call on a specific industry, region, or individual security over a specific period. While these anecdotes can be entertaining, there is a wealth of compelling evidence that highlights the futility of attempting to identify mispricing in advance and profit from it.

It is important to remember that many investing fads, and indeed, most mutual funds, do not stand the test of time. A large proportion of funds fail to survive over the longer term. Of the 1,622 fixed income mutual funds in existence at the beginning of 2004, only 55% still existed at the end of 2018. Similarly, among equity mutual funds, only 51% of the 2,786 funds available to US-based investors at the beginning of 2004 endured.

What Am I Really Getting?

When confronted with choices about whether to add additional types of assets or strategies to a portfolio, it may be helpful to ask the following questions:

  1. What is this strategy claiming to provide that is not already in my portfolio?
  2. If it is not in my portfolio, can I reasonably expect that including it or focusing on it will increase expected returns, reduce expected volatility, or help me achieve my investment goal?
  3. Am I comfortable with the range of potential outcomes?

If investors are left with doubts after asking any of these questions, it may be wise to use caution before proceeding. Within equities, for example, a market portfolio offers the benefit of exposure to thousands of companies doing business around the world and broad diversification across industries, sectors, and countries. While there can be good reasons to deviate from a market portfolio, investors should understand the potential benefits and risks of doing so.

In addition, there is no shortage of things investors can do to help contribute to a better investment experience. Working closely with a financial advisor can help individual investors create a plan that fits their needs and risk tolerance. Pursuing a globally diversified approach; managing expenses, turnover, and taxes; and staying disciplined through market volatility can help improve investors’ chances of achieving their long-term financial goals.

Conclusion Fashionable investment approaches will come and go, but investors should remember that a long-term, disciplined investment approach based on robust research and implementation may be the most reliable path to success in the global capital markets.

 

notes and risk warnings

This article is distributed for educational purposes only and must not be considered to be investment advice.  Past performance is not indicative of future results and no representation is made that any stated results will be replicated. The value of investments can go down as well as up.

Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed.
Errors and omissions excepted.

 

How to Phase into Retirement and Take It for a Test Drive

There are many reasons why people who could retire are hesitant to do so. Some people think they need to wait until they’re 65 or older. Some are worried about running out of money. Many parents want to keep supporting their children through some major life transition, like university, marriage, or buying a first home.

Maybe the most common reason we see for a retirement delay is people who just can’t imagine their lives without work. That’s understandable. A routine that’s sustained you and your family for 30 or 40 years can be a hard routine to shake.

But retirement doesn’t have to be all or nothing right away. If just thinking about retiring makes you jittery, use these tips to ease into retirement a little at a time.

  1. Talk to your family

Clear, open communication is an essential first step to approaching retirement. Be as honest as possible about what you’re feeling. What worries you about retirement? What excites you? What do you envision your days being like? Where do you want to live? What does your spouse want retirement life to be like?

  1. Talk to your employer

Many companies have established programs to help employees transition into retirement. You might be able to trim back your hours gradually to get an idea of what days without working will be like. You’re also going to want to double-check how any retirement benefits you may have are going to work. Discuss any large outstanding projects with your supervisor. Make a plan to finish what’s important to you so that you can leave your job feeling accomplished.

Self-employed? Give your favourite employee (you) less hours and fewer clients! Update your succession plan and start giving the soon-to-be CEO more of your responsibilities. Make sure you have the absolute best people working for you in key leadership positions so that your company can keep prospering without your daily involvement.

  1. Make a “rough draft” of your retirement schedule 

What are you passionate about? What are some hobbies you’d like to develop into a skilled craft? Do you want to get serious about working the kinks out of your golf swing? Are there household projects, repairs, or upgrades you want to tend to? A crazy idea you kicked around at work you’d like to build into a new company? A part-time job or volunteer position you’d like to take at an organisation that’s important to you? New things you want to try? New places you want to visit? Grandkids you want to see more often?

Try filling out a calendar with some of your answers to these questions. As you start to scale back your work hours, take a few lessons take on some voluntary work. Sign up for a class. Go away for a long weekend. See what appeals to you and what doesn’t.

Remember, you don’t have to get your schedule right the first time! A successful retirement will involve some trial and error. Learn from things you don’t like and make a point to spend more time doing the things you do like.

  1. Review your finances.

This is where we come in!

Once you and your spouse have settled on a shared vision for retirement, we can help you create a financial plan to help ensure you are financially fit for (semi)-retirement. We’ll go through all your sources of income, pensions, savings, and other investments to set out a projection of where your money is coming from and where it’s going.

We can coordinate all aspects of your situation and collaborate with you on the best course of action. You don’t have to face retirement alone and make big decisions without expert guidance.

Coming in and talking to us about your retirement is a great “Step 1” option as well. So, if you are dreaming of those days when work is optional, give us a call and we can help you through this phase of life.

Managing Time

As a family we enjoy holidaying in Spain, and I am always struck by the difference in perspectives on how we live in the UK and how the Spanish live. The fact that that most Spanish shops close between 2p.m. and 5 p.m. so that people can have lunch and recharge, rather than staying open and making money is very much different to our own culture.

The towns and cities slowly come to life as couples, families and friends emerge onto the streets for their evening paseo; the daily ritual of catching up by taking a stroll, having some snacks or perhaps doing a little shopping. These routines appear to make little sense amid the bustle of our modern world, but it is nonetheless an interesting lens from which to view how we help clients live their best lives.

Allocating time is as important as allocating money.  Besides money, time is another major limited resource in life, yet very few of us approach managing this aspect of our lives using the same discipline with which we manage our money.

As financial advisers we take great pride in helping clients allocate their investments as efficiently as possible but, imagine if we helped people think about how their money could get them to use their time better.

There’s scientific evidence that using money to give people more time can make them happier too. In August 2017, researchers at Harvard published a paper after studying the spending habits of more than 6,000 people in the US, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands.[1]

They found that: “Despite rising incomes, people around the world are feeling increasingly pressed for time, undermining well-being. We show that the time famine of modern life can be reduced by using money to buy time. Surveys of large, diverse samples from four countries reveal that spending money on time-saving services is linked to greater life satisfaction. To establish causality, we show that working adults report greater happiness after spending money on a time-saving purchase than on a material purchase. This research reveals a previously unexamined route from wealth to well-being: spending money to buy free time.”

None of us dispute that one of the cornerstones to living richly is spending our limited time on the things we really care about. However, many of our discussions with clients focus on the wrong goals. So, what can we do about it?

  1. Helping people prudently spend is as valuable as helping them prudently save. Of course, as advisors we are rightly focused on ensuring that people don’t run out of money. However, there is usually a trade-off between time and money. Focusing too much on building the biggest nest egg possible sets the wrong goal for clients. Every pound saved might build more security, but it just as surely takes away from their life today. More money does nothing to improve your life if you don’t use it to improve your life along the way. Preventing clients from over-sacrificing today is as much a part of a great planner’s job as ensuring a financial plan works in the future.
  2. Priorities exist today that are as important as those in the future. Planners spend most of their time with working clients discussing their future and retirement, yet clients worry the most about prioritising all the trade-offs they have today. They want to be there for their families, find time and money for holidays, or make time in their schedules to exercise. We can help people make decisions to improve their lives immediately.   Rather than focusing solely on the longer term and sacrificing as much as possible for the future, it is important not to lose the opportunity to make trade-offs and add immediate value to people’s lives today.
  3. Discussing what really matters engages everybody. The biggest cost to our industry on spending so much time on maths and money is that it disengages the non-financial person.  Where we work with couples, that can often mean that one spouse is not involved in something that they should be making an integral part of their financial lives. By discussing time and how the money will support each person’s priorities, you connect to the universal truths we all care about.

Money might not grow on trees, but time doesn’t grow at all. One of the consequences of having a country that encourages siestas and two-hour lunches is that Spain is one of the least financially successful economies in Europe. Yet you can’t help but notice that their focus on living and enjoying their time, instead of working and making more money, has a meaningful impact on the quality of their lives.

For each of us and our clients, the balance lies somewhere in between. Our job is to help our clients live at their ideal place on that spectrum of trade-offs.

[1] https://www.pnas.org/content/114/32/8523

 

With Compliments to Marie Kondo …

This blog is based on one that I read recently from a US blog site Sightings Over 60 which is always an interesting read.

The Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has become a phenomenon. Kondo has been around for a while. Her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was released in 2014 and climbed the bestseller lists. She followed that book with Spark Joy, which tells us, according to the New York Times, that “you can own as much or as little as you like, as long as every possession brings you true joy.”

To be honest, I have not read her books, nor have I seen her show, but having had the opportunity to declutter when moving to a new house, one thing I do know is that decluttering is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process.

If you are retired and the kids have left home it is highly likely that you no longer need all that stuff filling up the garage, loft and wardrobes.  Yet decluttering can be a big job with one rule of thumb suggesting that you allow an eight-hour day of decluttering for each year you’ve lived in your house!  But unless you want a bad back and sore knees, you probably shouldn’t try to do it all at once.

So, here are some steps you can take to declutter … with a nod to Marie Kondo for making cleaning up cool.

  1. Warn your children. If the children have left home, invite them to look through your house and take what they want. Then insist that they remove any and all of their own materials – the boxes of old school items, the stuffed animals, trophies from sports tournaments, souvenirs from holidays, etc..
  2. Have a heart-to-heart with your spouse. Most relationships, it seems, consist of one hoarder and one simplifier. To avoid working at cross purposes, you need to sit down and talk things through – so one person isn’t throwing something away while the other is retrieving things out of the bin. The hoarder must realise that many things — VHS tapes, a record player, old sports equipment — are outdated or can be easily replaced. The simplifier must admit that some things have sentimental value and can’t be replaced. So, let’s not be like the dysfunctional politicians. We need to realise that there can be emotional issues involved in the process … and be ready to compromise
  3. Sort one space at a time. It’s easy to get bogged down if you do a little of this, and a little of that. So start small. Clean out a wardrobe, then a bathroom, then one of the kid’s bedrooms. The hardest jobs will be your own bedroom, the loft, and the kitchen.
  4. Touch something once; make a decision. As you go through your old clothes, old books, or old furniture, for each item decide whether you need to keep it or get rid of it. The key to making progress is to make the decision. If you need one suit, then decide which one to keep and get rid of the others. Try not to hmm and ah, change your mind, or postpone the decision – or that one day per year could turn out to be two or three days per year. Or, the decluttering may never get done.
  5. Make five piles. Keep. Sell. Gift. Recycle. Bin. Decide what you want to keep and put that in one pile. The rest goes into one of the other four piles. But try to decide right away – you can give it to someone; you can sell it, recycle it or throw it away. But don’t waste too much time deciding – just choose a pile. If you make a “mistake” and throw away something that maybe you could sell or give to charity – be realistic, you probably wouldn’t have sold it for much money anyway, and the charity wouldn’t have either.
  6. Take pictures. The hardest decision are the emotional ones. But if you can’t bear to get rid of something you need to get rid of, then take a picture. The special dress? Put it on, take a picture, then give it away. The shelf of trophies, the wonderful old oriental rug that will never fit into your new place – take a picture and keep it with you always.  Then make sure to send copies of those photos to your kids.
  7. Books. Marie Kondo has caught some flak for suggesting we keep no more than 30 books in our homes. My own opinion is that books are like albums and CDs, or tapes and DVDs. Keep them around, if they bring you “joy.” But it’s not the books themselves that are important. It’s what’s inside — the information, the characters, the stories and those are all readily available from the library or the internet.
  8. Hire a professional. For most people, decluttering is a do-it-yourself project – and they would have it no other way – perhaps with some help from kids or a best friend. But sometimes the job might just be too big; or you’re too overwhelmed by the prospect. There are professionals who will help you.

So, here’s to many ‘happy hours’ decluttering … or at least planning to.

Markets fell in 2018 – but keep this in perspective

This latest blog is brought to you by our Investment Consultant – Tim Hale of Albion Consulting.

2018 may have been a disappointing year for equities, but this shouldn’t have been a surprise.

December 2018 dished up a rather distasteful present for the holiday period.  Many lines were written in the broadsheets about the global equity market falls, but were they really anything out of the ordinary?

‘Stock market slide in 2018 leaves investors bruised and wary’ The Financial Times’ (31st December 2018)

Since 2009 (the bottom of the market during the Credit Crisis) global markets have delivered positive returns in eight out of the ten calendar years. The last negative year for equities was back in 2011, when the markets were down around 7%. Over the history we have available to us – on average – one in three years deliver negative returns. Investors have, of late, been extremely lucky.
Since 2008, in every single year, investors have suffered a fall from a previous market high and many of these falls were larger than 10%. However, even investing at the start of 2008 and suffering the 35% peak-to-trough fall in 2008, an equity investor would have turned £100 into £230, i.e. 8% compounded over 11 years, if they had been disciplined and patient (two known areas of human weakness!).

As humans, we tend to have a strange view of what invested wealth represents and how we feel about it at any point in time. We tend to be happy as wealth – at least on paper – goes up to some value at a specific point in time and unhappy when we reach that value again, if it is achieved after a market correction.

Remember, the true meaning of wealth is having the appropriate level of assets that you require, when you require them, to meet your financial and lifestyle goals. In the interim, movements in value are noise, somewhat meaningless and part and parcel of investing. When you invest in equities, you should try to avoid mentally banking the money you (appear to) make on the undulating, and sometimes precipitous, road you are on. Remember too that the headline equity market numbers are unlikely to be your portfolio outcome, as most investors own some sort of a balance between bonds and equities.

Keeping things in perspective

Investing in equities is always going to be a game of two steps forward and one step back. What equities deliver from one year to another is of little consequence to the long-term investor, who does not need all of their money back today.

As far as 2019 is concerned, no one who is honest knows what will happen in the markets. The global economy is still set to grow by 3.5% above inflation this year, according to the IMF, which is not that bad. Today market prices reflect the aggregate view of all investors based on the information to hand. If new information comes out tomorrow, prices will adjust to reflect the impact this has on company valuations. As the release of new information is – by definition – random, so too must price movements be random, at least in the short-term. Over the longer-term they reflect the real growth in earnings that companies deliver through their hard work, executing the delivery of their business strategies. In the longer-term, investing in the stock market is a game worth playing, at least with part of your portfolio.

As Benjamin Graham – a legendary investor in the early 20th Century once said:

“In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run it is a weighing machine”
We could not agree more.

notes and risk warnings

This article is distributed for educational purposes only and must not be considered to be investment advice or an offer of any security for sale. The reference to any products is made only to make educational points and must, in no circumstances, be deemed to be any form of product recommendation.

This article contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily the Firm and does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed.

Past performance is not indicative of future results and no representation is made that the stated results will be replicated.
Errors and omissions excepted.

 

Is there a better alternative to Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax is enormously unpopular to say the least. A YouGov poll found that 59% of the public deemed it unfair, making it the least popular of Britain’s 11 major taxes. What’s more, the tax has a limited revenue raising ability, with the ‘well advised’ often using gifts, trusts, business property relief and agricultural relief to avoid paying so much.

As it stands, the tax affects just 4% of British estates and contributes only 77p of every £100 of total taxation. This puts the tax in the awkward position of being both highly unpopular and raising very little revenue. Currently the inheritance tax threshold stands at £325,000 per person. Anything above this is subject to a 40% tax (unless you leave everything above the threshold to your spouse, civil partner or charity).

If you own your own home and are leaving it your children (including adopted, foster or stepchildren) or grandchildren and your estate is worth less than £2 million, this can lift the threshold by an additional £125,000 in the 2018-19 tax year (the nil-rate band), to £450,000.

Inheritance Tax is seen as unfair for several reasons, the main one being because it is a tax on giving (while normal taxes apply to earnings) and it is a ‘double tax’ on people who have already earned – and been taxed on – their wealth.

In its report¹ dated May 2018 , The Resolution Foundation; a prominent independent think tank, set out an alternative. They proposed abolishing Inheritance Tax and replacing it with a Lifetime Receipts Tax.

This would see individuals given a Lifetime Receipts Allowance which would allow them to receive tax free gifts through their lifetime up to a set threshold. They would then have to pay tax on any gifts they received that exceeded this threshold. The thinktank suggests that by setting a lifetime limit of £125,000 and then applying tax at 20% up to £500,000 and 30% after that, this would be both a fairer system and harder to avoid. It would also encourage individuals to spread their wealth wider.

They predict that a lifetime receipts tax would raise an extra £5 billion by 2021, bringing in £11 billion rather than the £6 billion inheritance tax currently raises. In a time of mounting pressure on public services like the NHS, this additional revenue would be welcomed by many.

The Lifetime Receipts Allowance would also remove many of the current ways of managing the amount of assets an individual is taxed on upon death. For instance, people would not be able to reduce the size of their taxable estate by giving away liquid assets seven years prior to their death.

The Resolution Foundation also suggests tightening up on existing reliefs such as Business Property Relief, Agricultural Relief, the treatment of inherited pensions and the forgiveness of Capital Gains Tax at death to reduce the scope for tax avoidance.

The Lifetime Receipts Tax is only a think tank recommendation and is not being considered by the government but for the reasons stated … it could have legs.

¹https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/app/uploads/2018/05/IC-inheritance-tax.pdf 

Warning
The information provided is based upon the authors understanding of taxation and legislation at the time of writing.  Any level and bases of, and reliefs from taxation are subject to change.

Gifting to Charity

Charities greatly appreciate people’s generosity, as it is vital to the continuance of their works.

During your lifetime you can support your chosen Charities through volunteering your time, donating items for them to sell or, gifting them money. Any gift of money is usually eligible for gift aid in the hands of the charity (essentially the Government adds 20p for every 80p you donate) and income tax relief for the donor at their highest marginal tax rate.

Gifts on death tend to be of a more substantial nature. These gifts, known as a ‘legacy’ are not counted in your estate for inheritance tax (IHT) –reducing the amount of IHT due. If the amount left to Charities is at least 10% of the net estate at the date of death, the IHT rate applying to the residual estate also reduces from 40% to 36%.

This all sounds simple doesn’t it; but in leaving a legacy to Charity, you should be aware that a Charity has a different legal status to a private individual, thus is subject to stringent legislation.

Each charity is the responsibility of its Trustees who have duties to the Charity’s work. In addition to complying with numerous rules and regulations, trustee duties also include ensuring that any funds left are used for the purpose for which they have been given (if applicable) and ensuring that the charity receives full benefit from the donor (i.e. maximum value for estate assets). However, if the legacies have not been carefully thought out, these two responsibilities can cause distress for executors at a difficult emotional time.

Below are two example scenarios that on the face of it seem reasonable, but could cause some distress to executors:

Scenario 1 – “I leave an amount equal to 10% of my net estate to ABC Charity”
Scenario 2 – “I leave £10,000 to DEF Charity to perform XYZ purpose”

Scenario 1 Issue – The Charity Trustees, upon reviewing the Will and estate account feel that certain assets have been undervalued and as such the Charity has not received the full amount as dictated in the Will. This could result in having to obtain further valuations of major assets and distribute further money to the charity instead of the other beneficiaries.

Scenario 2 Issue – DEF Charity do not perform XYZ purpose. In this instance they may not be able to accept the legacy and additional guidance may be required from their regulator, or even the courts – this could be time consuming and / or costly.

When updating your Will, your solicitor should be able to help with solutions to any potential issues like those highlighted above (for example, gifting a set amount and not stating a particular purpose for the money) – thereby allowing your chosen charities to receive the legacies you wish, whilst not causing your executors any additional issues.

Simplicity is the key here.

Warning
This material is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. The information is based upon the authors understanding of the taxation, legislation and regulations at the time of writing. Any level and bases of, and reliefs from taxation are subject to change.

 

 

Looking at the big retirement picture

Considering making pension contributions ahead of the tax year end?

Investing for the future is vital if you want to enjoy a financially secure retirement, and it requires you to look at the big picture. Although pensions can be complicated, we will help you get to grips with the rules if you are considering making contributions ahead of the tax year end. Here are our top pension tax tips.

Annual and lifetime limits

Getting tax relief on pensions means some of your money that would have gone to the Government as tax goes into your pension instead. You can put as much as you want into your pension, but there are annual and lifetime limits on how much tax relief you receive on your pension contributions. Please note that if you are a Scottish taxpayer, the tax relief you will be entitled to will be at the Scottish Rate of Income Tax, which may differ from the rest of the UK.

Provided that you stay within your pension allowances, all pensions give you tax relief at the rate that you have paid on your contributions. For personal pensions, you receive tax relief at the basic rate of 20% inside the pension. That means for every £800 you pay in, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will top it up to £1,000. If you’re a higher or additional rate taxpayer, you can claim back up to an additional 20% or 25% on top of the 20% basic rate tax relief through your self-assessment tax return.

Benefit from tax relief

For workplace pensions, your employer normally takes your pension contribution direct from your salary before Income Tax so that the contribution is not taxed at source like the rest of your employment income, and therefore the full benefit is received inside your pension immediately. If your employer does not handle your contributions before tax, then these would benefit from tax relief in the same way as for a personal pension contribution.

You’re still entitled to receive basic rate tax relief on pension contributions even if you don’t pay tax. The maximum you can pay into your pension as a non-taxpayer is £2,880 a year, which is equivalent to a £3,600 contribution once you factor in tax relief.

Total amount of contributions

The annual allowance is a limit to the total amount of contributions that can be paid in to defined contribution pension schemes and the total amount of benefits that you can build up in a defined

10 Things That are Good for Us

I read various blogs and articles over the weekend and one grabbed my attention, so I thought I would share some of the content with you … and add a little of my own.

Most days (and particularly at this time of year) the media can confuse us with information about activities, foods, drinks, supplements and other things that are supposedly good or bad for us.  The article I read focused on the following things that are good for us – 

  1. Breakfast. Many people skip breakfast (I am not one of them as Nicky, my partner, will testify). A good breakfast gives you energy and keeps you away from the mid-morning biscuit(s). Eating breakfast is associated with maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and better concentration and memory. 
  1. Saunas and hot tubs. I have often toyed with the idea of having a sauna installed at home as they can make you feel good and apparently there are health benefits as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, they can improve cardiovascular function and lower blood pressure and relieve symptoms of arthritis, headache and flu.
  1. Organic foods. I know that many of us are sceptical about the benefits of organic food, (especially me as a short-armed Yorkshireman) and particularly because they are more expensive. Science says that organic food, despite the price, are better for you as have more nutrients, less toxins and fewer pesticides.
  1. A sceptical attitude. Now I thought I would score high here, but I maybe verging on being more cynical than sceptical. However, as part of the ‘me’ going forwards I will look at the facts and evidence before believing in something. Sceptics are less likely to fall for the next best thing be it a fad diet, trendy quick fix or cure all. They are also less likely to believe that everything will work out fine and so they take measures to improve their outlook for the future by exercising, eating properly, driving safely and avoiding health risks.
  1. Physical contact. Being physically close, holding hands and giving backrubs all tend to reduce physical pain and this is not something the ladies have simply dreamt up. It was in fact the conclusion from research undertaken by the University of Colorado Boulder whereby 22 couples took part. The women were subjected to mild pain (I guess this would have been equivalent to extreme pain for a man), first when they were holding hands and then when they were sitting together but not touching. The women reported significantly less pain when they were holding hands but not when they were sitting together.  Maybe we could give that a try at the Manchester United matches ….
  1. Herbs and spices. This is definitely something I firmly agree with – any excuse to eat a good curry. Herbs and spices are full of healthy compounds that reduce inflammation and additional flavours that lead us to use less sugar salt and fat in our foods. There is a long list of benefits but here are a few of my favourites (note the curry theme again). Chilli’s boost metabolism and keep blood vessels healthy. Cumin can help weight loss, Cinnamon can help reduce inflammation. Garlic reduces cholesterol and blood pressure. Turmeric may improve memory and help ease pain.
  1. Move. I heard a doctor use the phrase “motion is the best lotion”. It is important to exercise and I’m sure we all know the benefits, so no need for to expand on this one.
  1. Passion and purpose. It is hugely beneficial to have an interest and a passion for things such as a pastime, voluntary work or even continuing to work. We have found that those who fill their time with their passions tend to lead a more fulfilling and healthy life.
  1. Coffee… and tea. Coffee perks you up and tea helps you relax according to WebMD. Coffee may help stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, diabetes and liver disease and the recurrence of colon cancer and tea boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
  1. Sleep. According to a study from Northwestern University, people who are night owls are at risk of developing health problems, including diabetes and neurological disorders. But it seems the crux of the issue is sleep deprivation, which affects not just your physical well-being, but cognitive performance as well. But don’t be complacent if you sleep a lot; sleeping too much is associated with the same health risks as sleeping too little. So how much is the right amount? Apparently somewhere between 7 – 9 hours is about right.

So, if you agree with the experts on things that are good for us, here we have an ‘ideal’ healthy day: –

Wake up with a sceptical attitude, have a healthy organic breakfast with a coffee then off to work or to follow your passion.  Return home, enjoy a cuddle or go for a walk holding hands, followed by a sauna or sit in a hot tub with a cup of tea. Then feast on an organic curry, spend time doing something you enjoy before retiring to bed at a reasonable time.

 

 

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 close at 5pm on  Friday 21st December 2018 and will re-open at 9am on Wednesday 3rd January 2019.

As in previous years, in lieu of sending Christmas cards, this year we have donated to Shelter UK and Alzheimer’s Society