Money, stress, families and financial planning – a group of words that fit well with each other time and again. We can hear the responses as you read this. What financial planning? What money? Children are expensive don’t you know? We’ll think about that later when we have some money!
Rosecroft Health & Safety spoke to Amaka Ogbonnah Director of Amneo Wealth Management and Associate Partner at the St James Place Plc. about this very subject.
Amaka’s has over 15 years extensive experience working for several well-known private financial and banking institutions including Coutts and is passionate about helping people do better with their money. She provides help and advice in areas including investment planning, estate planning, retirement planning and protection planning.
Here, Amaka helps shed some light on common issues for families with children and the best way to plan for our families’ futures.
Wealth management is not just for the wealthy
Amaka says the first thing everyone needs to know is that “the perception that wealth management is for the wealthy just isn’t true. It’s for everyone and especially important families who have, and people who are planning on having children. The more planning you do now means you can do better with and make the most of the money you have.”
Key areas of common worries young children families have
In Amaka’s experience families with children, especially young children, money is a subject that causes anxiety and worry.
Key areas are:
- Not being able to meet day to day expenses
- Childcare costs
- Paying for future education such as university fees
- Children being able to afford to move out of home
- Protecting your family against the worst happening such as loss of income, main breadwinner losing their job, accidents that affect earning capacity and losing a spouse.
The 3 pillars of support
To address these worries Amaka points to 3 pillars of support”
1. The State – help from the government. Always check if you are entitled to benefits from the state. Free advice can be sought from organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau, Age UK (if you’re over 50), Gingerbread (for single parents) and the Government’s Money Advice Service and Working Families
2. Employee benefits – always checkIf you have any benefits with your employment package. Some companies give discounts on essential expenditure, gym memberships and other benefits that could save you money.
3. What you can do for yourself – There is also action individuals and families can take to support themselves through periods of worry and anxiety. These include budgeting, asking family members for help, saving for the future and insurances.
Amaka says that many people know what they’re earning but they don’t always know what they’re spending. Some months people have enough and some they don’t and cover the shortfall with borrowing, credit cards or savings.
She says it is essential to know what’s coming in and what’s going out and there are free tools out there to help you. Once you’re on top of this, it is easier to analyse our outgoings and understand what is essential and what we have discretion with. This exercise also highlights where we can cut or change things. One example is cancelling those subscriptions you may have forgotten about or don’t use. Another example is shopping around and looking for deals. Then there’s checking your insurance. If you have household insurance do you need laptop insurance or phone insurance as well? These items may be already covered in your home insurance so this extra insurance may not be needed, uncovering extra money. Her advice, check what you have and what it covers.
If you have friends and family that live nearby and a bit of time, why not ask them if they can help out with childcare. Childcare is an enormous expense for many. There is so much to gain if we can help each other out with school pickups and day care. Also look to see if you are entitled to any State benefits.
University – Save the Student, using official data and the findings from their own National Student Money Survey (NSMS), put the rough cost of going to university at about £56,000 – a huge amount of money to find.
According to Halifax, the average deposit paid by a first-time buyer in the UK increased to £57,278 in 2020. Rents are also enormously expensive, meaning children are living at home for longer.
People are also living longer so need more money in their retirement.
Amaka says, if you want to help your children with the cost of university education, moving out of home, and have enough for your retirement, the earlier you start saving the better – and the less you may need to save per month in the future. This really demonstrates why budgeting is key. It helps you work out surplus income so you can start a savings plan which will make a huge difference in the future. Amaka also suggests thinking about this if you think you might want children in the future but before you have them!
Amaka says “the what if I lose my partner or my ability to earn income due to ill health” this is a huge worry for people and one most do not address
it. She finds that many say they can’t afford to pay for insurance but says that with so many insurance companies out there and so many different types of insurance there really is something for everyone and it is so important to have something in place. In the event of an accident, the death of a partner or loss of a job it gives piece of mind that the mortgage can be paid and there will be income for the family especially for the period that the children remain financially dependent.
In Amaka’s experience people over and under insure in certain areas so it is important to sit down with an expert you trust to identify and review the important areas for you.
Over and under insuring
Amaka gives the example of a couple with children and a mortgage taking out a £5000,000 life insurance policy when they have a £250,000 mortgage for over insuring.
If a spouse dies that £500,000 covers the £250,000 mortgage debt leaving the surviving family with £250,000 to live off or make up the short fall in income created by the death of the income earner – what’s the plan when that runs out? If the main breadwinner dies when children are very small £250,000 will not last many years.
She says it may be better to consider buying a policy that covers the mortgage debt and one that guarantees an income on an annual or monthly basis while the children are financially dependent.
In terms of Amaka’s top tips for financial planning. These are
- Face your fears with money. When we know what we are spending money on we feel more confident about it. We may not be able to create surplus but knowing what you are spending on builds confidence. She says there is a lot of free information out there on budgeting and managing money – use it!
- Start a savings plan. Have a non-negotiable amount you can save per month – your future self will thank you. Amaka says it doesn’t have to be huge – just something and start early if you can. Have it in your head and do consistently and invest this.
- Have the money conversation. More people are open to the conversation about money and getting some type of education about money. Make sure you have those conversations at home and constantly have the conversation. Decide who is good with money and what each person is responsible for whether its setting up a savings plan, engaging with a financial advisor or organising insurance covers
- Get insurance and have the right insurances for you. Amaka says take advice no matter how stretched your finances are. You really never know what’s going to happen and insurance helps answer the “what if” questions. There is so much to deal with financially and emotionally when the worst happens. Insurance can at least help with the money side. But check its right for you.
- Buy insurance (if you can) when you’re young, fit and healthy. Amaka advises that buying young with guarantee premiums can keep cost low for the life of the policy. When you get older and have to declare pre-existing conditions premiums may be higher.
- Review your insurance – Circumstances change and this doesn’t mean we need to cancel policies and get new ones. Amaka says these can be reviewed and add-ons purchased to accommodate for change of circumstances. These add-ons can be at a lower cost than a new policy
- Use ISAs – Amaka finds young families hold on to cash for emergency funds. She suggests, if saving for children’s future to consider investing in stocks and shares. Whilst these do have own risks and markets do go up and down and you may get back less than you invested – historically, long term investments tend to out-performed cash so worth exploring and get some advice.
How to find a good financial advisor
It is really important to approach a professional. The advice is that not anyone who has term advisor or specialist in their title is one. Financial advisors need to be qualified, regulated and authorised by financial conduct authority and should have a proven track record of giving good advice. Ask around and do your research!
Best piece of advice
Amaka’s best piece of advice is to start today it’s never too late.
Amneo Wealth Management Ltd is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website http://www.sjp.co.uk/products. The ‘St. James’s Place Partnership’ and the title ‘Partner/Partner Practice’ are marketing terms used to describe St. James’s Place representatives.