As the end of 2023 approaches, the festive season can offer a great opportunity to take some extended time away from work. Having a few days to yourself or with family can give you a much-needed break and for you to recharge your batteries ahead of the new year.
Having a bit of downtime can also give you the chance to catch up on some of the life admin that you haven’t found the time to get around to.
So, if you find yourself with an hour or two free this festive season, here are 10 pieces of invaluable financial admin that, when completed, means you could start 2024 on the right foot.
1. Top up your emergency fund
Your emergency fund is a pot of money you can access if the unexpected happens. We normally recommend holding between three- and six-months’ expenditure in an easy access account so you don’t have to encash investments or turn to expensive credit if an unwelcome bill arrives.
Whether it’s a short period out of work, your car breaks down, or you need to undertake some urgent home maintenance, this fund is there to ensure your financial plan isn’t blown off track.
So, this season, make sure you’ve topped up your fund for the year ahead. You could also make sure that you’re earning the best rate you can on these savings, which brings us to…
2. Shop around for better savings rates
When was the last time you checked the rates you are receiving on your cash savings?
Research published by FTAdviser has revealed that a third of savers do not know what interest rate they are getting. So, approach your current bank and find out what the rate is on your account(s), and, if you need some guidance, contact us to arrange a time to speak.
Even improving your interest rate by 1% on a pot of EUR 50,000 would result in an additional 500 euros a year in interest.
3. Update your will
If you have already made a will, you’ll understand how important it is to outline how you’d like your assets to be distributed on your death.
However, your circumstances may well have changed since you first wrote your will. You may be in a new relationship, have new children or grandchildren, or have accumulated more assets.
So, if you have some time over the festive season, read through your will and check that it still reflects both your current circumstances and your wishes.
4. Make sure you have “expression of wish” forms for all your pensions
The treatment of pensions often falls outside your estate and, depending on the country where the pension is held, and the type of pension, how it’s treated on your death.
If you have a pension that has a value, or an income stream that can be passed to a beneficiary, it is good practice to make sure these details are captured by your pension provider and are up to date.
Make sure you have let your pension provider(s) know how you’d like any pension proceeds to be treated on your death.
5. Make sure your tax returns are up to date
Depending on your passport, you may have to submit a tax return for your country of residency and your country of citizenship.
You may also have to do so for countries where you hold assets. So, make sure you have access to good tax advice for each jurisdiction and be mindful that different countries operate different tax years with different reporting deadlines.
6. Update your Lasting Power of Attorney
Your Lasting Power of Attorney indicates the person (or people) you’d like to make financial or care decisions for you if you’re no longer able.
If you haven’t updated your LPA in a while, check it over and make sure it remains appropriate for your needs.
If you have assets in multiple jurisdictions, you may need to make arrangements in each of these countries.
7. File your bills and statements
Over time, the pile of bank statements, pension updates, or policy documents can build up. So, take time over the winter months to sort through your paperwork.
Organise your documents in files, so you (and your loved ones) know where everything is if you or they need to access an account or make a claim. When you have done that…
8. Complete an ICE document
An “in case of emergency” (ICE) document is a single place where you keep all the details that someone would need to look after your affairs if you couldn’t.
Using either a hard copy or a digital document, include details of all savings, investments, bank accounts, policy numbers and passwords. If you’re ill or in an accident, this will ensure that those close to you can access all your financial information.
Of course, you’ll also need to let your loved ones know where it is, and any passwords if you decide to keep a digital copy.
It can be a little bit of work to collate all this information, but a couple of hours spent over the festive break could ensure nothing is missed or overlooked if the worst happens.
9. Revisit your household budget
It’s been a tough couple of years for many households, with soaring inflation and energy prices across Europe.
At the start of a new year, it can be instructive to go through your bank statements and check that you’re not paying for any services you don’t use. You might find you have more disposable income than you thought, or you could uncover patterns that highlight where you may be able to make savings.
Starting the year with a firm grip on your expenditure could help you to boost your savings or pension contributions, or pay down debt more quickly.
10. Think about goals for the year ahead
While we often talk about the need for patience when it comes to meeting your medium- to long-term goals, it’s sometimes useful to concentrate on those things nearer at hand too.
What do you want to achieve financially over the next 12 months?
Make a list of the financial goals you’d like to meet, and you’ll have a reference point against which to track your progress as you head through the year.
Get in touch
If you want to start 2024 on the right foot, ticking off these financial admin jobs will stand you in good stead.
If you’d like the help of professionals experienced in working with internationally mobile clients, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.
This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.