Tue, 05/12/2020 – 16:00
Claire Sweet is a money coach at Peace Together Money Coaching. She talks about the important steps you need to take if you want to achieve your financial goals
The Moneywise Team
Tue, 05/12/2020 – 14:25
I suppose it is about balance. I lost my mother 10 years ago when she was just 59. She had saved money all her life and had all these plans for retirement, but never got there.
So that taught me to balance what you need today with what you need for the future. Of course you need to save money for retirement and emergencies, but you also need money along the way to enjoy life – go on holiday, drink some gin.
I sometimes tell people that you can’t take money with you, but you can spend it on meaningful things.
I am married with two children, aged 17 and nine, and live in Kent. We moved from Herne Bay, where we had a detached house with a garden, to the countryside near Canterbury a couple of years ago. I like the outdoors, and had felt cooped up in my office. I wanted to balance my work with spending time outside.
It is so much more peaceful here and we now have five alpacas in our garden, which I can see from my home office.
That all began after I bought my husband a voucher for alpaca trekking, in a classic case of buying someone a present you actually want for yourself. We did it and we fell in love with them.
They are pets really – we don’t make any money from them – though my husband does sell the manure at the bottom of the garden. At some point we would like to build a visitor centre so that others can come and enjoy seeing them too.
Part of that balanced approach to money is being conscious of your spending and financial goals and not frittering your money. If you have a dream that requires money, be that a holiday or a car or whatever, you have to take an active decision to put a set amount of money away each month. A lot of people have a dream but don’t do anything about it. The dream remains a dream.
Not being organised, or saying “I’ll put aside whatever is left over at the end of the month” often does not work, as the money ends up getting spent on other things.
There are people out there who are so careful not to overspend that they don’t end up enjoying what they have. There are others who go the other way and spend everything. The first step is awareness of what money is coming in and what is going out.
A lot of people are asking if now is a good time to be investing. I think people are very cautious about being seen to be OK if other people are not.
Others are saying that now is a good time to get their finances sorted out because they are at home more and they have more time to think about it and act on it. That obviously doesn’t apply to parents with children at home!
There are some things to consider avoiding. I think it is about making sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Have some money in emergency savings. If your income is variable, then you should consider having these reserves so that you effectively always get paid.
It is also about keeping your expenses under control and not letting them run away from you.
In terms of my own money, I have money in a cash savings account, as well as some Premium Bonds. I have long-term investments in pensions and Isas. For investment Isas and pensions, the market is at a low point – but then again these are long-term products.
Claire Sweet is a money coach at Peace Together Money Coaching. As well as being a financial adviser she has a passion for the environment.
Do you have a lesson you’ve learnt about money you’d like to share? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cash deposits surged to £13.1 billion last month
Tue, 05/12/2020 – 12:45
Investors pulled a record £10 billion out of funds during March after stock markets fell due to the coronavirus crisis.
Figures from the Investment Association (IA) show fixed income funds were the worst-hit asset class, suffering outflows of £7.4 billion in March. This is when the UK and countries across Europe began to go into lockdown.
However, UK equity funds saw inflows of £747 million in March, while all other equity regions experienced outflows.
Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, says: “With the fastest switch to a bear market in history, the introduction of global lockdown measures designed to fight coronavirus held significant sway over the fund market in March, with a record £10 billion of retail savings flowing out of funds.”
Investors pulled £1.3 billion from global funds, with European markets suffering net outflows of £250 million. North America funds experienced net retail outflows of £256 million, while Asia funds saw a drain of £179 million.
The short-term money market was the top performing sector in March, with net retail flows of £1.7 billion.
Coronavirus has hit economies around the world, with the FTSE 100 and S&P 500 both tumbling to lows not seen since 1987.
These have started to recover, but this has been volatile.
“The extraordinary scale of central bank interventions in the second half of March saw market sentiment rebound, and is likely to help investors’ confidence in April,” says Cummings.
Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at investment platform AJ Bell, says the record outflow from funds was “unsurprising”.
She says: “March was a hairy month for investors with the FTSE 100 and S&P 500 both falling 13%, while the FTSE 250 index fell by 22%. Fund investors fared little better with 96% of the funds in the Investment Association universe handing investors a loss in the month.
“Investors left equity markets in their droves, with £1.1 billion pulled in the month, but fixed income markets were the biggest loser with £7.4 billion redeemed in March.”
Myron Jobson, personal finance campaigner at interactive investor (Moneywise’s parent company), says: “The realities of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on investments hit home in March following sharp falls in global stock markets in late February. Amid the storm, investors appear to have sought refuge in low risk assets, with short-term money market emerging as the bestselling IA sector in March.
“It is also interesting to see that UK equity funds were one of the flavours of the month of March, with net retail sales of £747 million. The dramatic downturn in the performance of such funds provided brave investors an opportunity to buy on the dip.”
Victims targeted with offers for coronavirus protective equipment and hygiene products
Tue, 05/12/2020 – 11:41
Fraudsters are increasingly targetting the vulnerable with online scams pretending to sell coronavirus protective equipment and cleaning products.
More than one-third (37%) of people targeted by scams during lockdown say they have seen these types of fraud, according to new research by comparethemarket.com.
The research reveals that around one third of people across the UK say they have seen an increase in suspected scams since the coronavirus crisis began.
A quarter (25%) of people noted a rise in phishing scams. Some 14% noticed an increase in “smishing,” where the fraudster sends a text pretending to be credible authority such as a bank or government body.
Common themes include scammers offering quick access to cash or saying the recipient has been fined by the government.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of people said they had come across insurance scams promising to pay out on false claims.
Meanwhile one-fifth (20%) say they have seen pensions or investment related scams in which fraudsters try to trick them into paying money in return for ‘unlocking’ their pension quickly or to prevent it from being lost.
More than one fifth (21%) of UK adults have had to cancel or replace their credit cards as a result of attempted fraud and in over half (51%) of cases money was stolen, averaging at £846 per person.
John Crossley, head of money at comparethemarket.com, says: “It is more important than ever that people remain cautious online.
“Our research shows that a significant proportion of people have seen an increase in scams during lockdown, as fraudsters seek to take advantage of the current situation.”
Following the tips below can help protect you from online scams.
Be cautious of calls, emails and messages you receive out of the blue. Never respond to unsolicited or unexpected contact, especially if the call tries to pressure you into making a payment or handing over personal or financial information. It is vital not to click the links or attachments of suspicious emails either.
If you are buying from a company or person you do not know and trust, do some research beforehand. A quick search online can help you identify if a seller is legitimate. You could also ask someone close to you for help and advice if you are still unsure.
It is important to install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from new threats.
You can do this by checking the security settings on your phone. It will let you know if your device software is up to date.
If you receive a suspicious message or think you might have fallen for a scam, report it immediately to Action Fraud and the National Cyber Security Centre. They will help investigate the scam and try to recover your money.