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The financial advisers at Sterling & Law have broken down financial planning into seasons to make the task less daunting and most importantly, more fun!

Article by Akwasi Duodu

Financial planning tips for 2024 – season by season

How do you plan your finances by season? There is no set order in which to deal with your finances. However, breaking things down into months or seasons can make planning your finances easier and more fun. The financial advisers at Sterling & Law have created this helpful article containing a range of seasonal financial planning tips to make the task less daunting and most importantly, doable.

Seasonal financial planning and tips in bite size chunks!

What could be better?

Let’s get started.

What should I do in January and February?

January is the hangover month and probably the most stressful time of year financially. Payday comes early in December and late in January. This could mean waiting a whole six weeks between paydays. This is compounded by the spending that went on over Christmas and New Year, and January can be a tough month. February is no easier. New Year’s celebrations are over and there’s now nothing to get excited about. The weather won’t help!

Financial planning tip – set a budget and some goals

On a positive note, January is a good time to start thinking about setting some financial goals. It is also a great time to take stock of your finances and create a budget for the New Year. Explore your income and expenditure patterns and adjust if you have overspent. Set out your budget for the year and plan to stick to it.

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What should I do in March and April?

Spring means opportunity! Your mood should be lighter. This is a popular time to explore saving and investment opportunities, particularly tax-efficient ones. If you don’t use your ISA or pension allowances, you’ll lose them. If you are self-employed, it’s also the time to consider getting your accounts ready.

Financial planning tip – take advantage of pensions & ISAs

If you’re employed, revisit your personal or workplace pension contributions. Are you contributing enough? Can you take advantage of any unused tax breaks? Savers will have a final opportunity to top up their ISAs before the end of the tax year. Being organised at this time of year will give you a spring in your step – no pun intended!

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What should I do in the Summer?

There’s lots to do in the summer, so watching your expenditure should be a priority. This is another time of year when credit cards and savings can take a hammering. Hopefully, the budgeting done earlier in the year will allow you to take the holiday you’ve planned for. The summer is a good time to start considering Christmas. It can creep up on you.

Financial planning tip – keep an eye on your spending

Keep tabs on holiday expenditure. Heating bills should have dropped considerably leaving you with a bit more headroom. Just make sure you don’t overdo it.

What should I do in September and October?

Things get serious again after the summer break. Kids are back at school and it’s time to plan. This is generally the busiest time for our financial advisers. Most of our meetings centre around creating a budget, planning for retirement or topping up insurance policies.

Financial planning tip – consider working with a financial adviser

October is financial planning month and a good time for those who are new to the world of financial planning to engage a financial adviser. They could help you create a financial plan.

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What financial planning should I do in November and December?

This is review time. You have had a full year for your financial plans to bed in. It’s now time to check to ensure you are on track to meet your financial goals. Things to review would include your budget, emergency funds, credit cards, mortgage, pensions, insurances and whether your Will needed updating.

Financial planning tip – tackle it head on

Lots to do and it can be daunting. But the feedback we get at Sterling & Law is that clients who face their fears and tackle their finances head on are more likely to get a feeling of peace of mind than those who stick their heads in the sand. Things rarely take care of themselves without action. Hopefully breaking things down into bite size chunks will help.

Summary – finish the year by setting some goals

You may remember at the start of this article, we mentioned January is a good time to start setting some financial goals. Well, December is an even better time. The festive period is a good time to spend time with loved ones, reflect on the year that’s ending and make plans for the future.

Maybe a little financial goal setting could be squeezed in during the Christmas shutdown?

We hope you have enjoyed our guide to seasonal financial planning. If you are thinking about getting to grips with your finances this year, consider following a comprehensive financial planning process. This will help you to form a clear picture of what you want to achieve, and the path to get there.

Article FAQs

Here are some questions you may have after reading this article.

How do I adjust my goals mid-year if my financial situation changes?

To adapt your financial goals in response to unexpected changes, it’s crucial to conduct a detailed review of your financial situation regularly. If you encounter unforeseen expenses or shifts in income, revising your budget is a primary step.

This might involve reallocating funds, adjusting savings contributions, or reprioritising spending to ensure critical financial goals remain on track.

Flexibility in your financial plan allows for adjustments in saving and investment strategies to reflect current financial realities while maintaining a focus on long-term objectives.

What’s the best way to manage my debt throughout the year?

A strategic approach to managing debt might include using any extra funds, such as tax refunds, bonuses, or money saved from reduced expenses in certain seasons, to pay down debt faster.

Strategies like debt snowball (paying off smaller debts first) or debt avalanche (focusing on debts with higher interest rates first) can be aligned with seasonal financial planning. For instance, allocating a part of a year-end bonus towards debt reduction can be a smart move, especially if it can significantly reduce interest payments over time.

What are some good examples of tax-efficient saving and investment opportunities to consider?

To make the most of tax-efficient saving and investment opportunities, such as Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) or pensions, timing can be crucial.

Contributions should be planned to maximise the benefits of tax relief within the relevant tax year. Spring, being the end of the financial year for many countries, is a critical time for reviewing and maximising these opportunities.

Beyond tax-advantaged accounts, consider investments that offer tax-efficient growth or income, such as certain bonds or dividend strategies, which can form part of a holistic tax-planning strategy.

How can I prepare for the financial impact of holiday spending and prevent overspending?

Effective preparation for holiday spending involves more than just setting aside money. It includes budgeting for gifts, travel, and festivities months in advance, ideally starting from the beginning of the year or even the end of the previous holiday season.

Creating a specific savings account for holiday expenses can help segregate funds and avoid dipping into savings meant for other purposes. Additionally, tracking spending throughout the year and adjusting the holiday budget based on actual expenses can prevent financial stress and overspending.

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