Now's the time to start saving for next year
Are you a ‘Grinch' when it comes to spending for Christmas?
This is an expensive time of the year.
There is a certain town in these parts - in the spirit of The Grinch, let's call it ‘Whoville' – where the honest parishioners are famed for being loathe to spend a penny.
(Stop nodding and smiling. That's not nice.)
They say the good god-fearing burghers of Whoville have double glazing put in, so the wains can't hear the ice cream van. (Obviously a longer-term investment).
Also, they say the thrifty people of Whoville do not like to share. They eat their dinner out of a drawer, so they can slide it shut if there's a knock at the door.
Unfortunately, in the current age of austerity, it's not just Whoville.
These days, times are tight for us all. Who wouldn't like an extra wad of tenners in our pocket, to keep our hands warm this Christmas season?
Would an extra £1,600 come in handy, as you forge your way through blizzards to the CastleCourt Centre, to stock up on Yankee Candles, Santa ashtrays, and Rudolf the reindeer woolly hats?
Or as you simply sit down with a hot cup of tea, to cyber-shop from home?
Well, now's the time to plan for next year. There's £1,600 for those who come looking for financial advice for the year to come.
So the Nottingham Building Society tells us, anyway. They've just crunched some numbers to show that 1,000 consumers surveyed believed they'd be saving £134 a month more, if they had financial advice.
Their research shows that 21 per cent of adults say they aren't saving as much as they could, due to not having advice, and are losing out on around £1,600 a year as a result.
Among savers under 35, nearly a third say lack of advice means they are probably not saving efficiently, compared to 12 per cent of over-55s.
Part of the problem seems to be that people don't know where to look.
That's understandable. Financial advice is not something you look for in your early 20s, when you are starting out on your career. Wise people seeking advice tend to do so around the age of 30, when they marry, buy a house, and start a family.
Therefore I was not surprised when Nottingham BS said that one in five (20 per cent) said they struggled to find quality savings advice, while one in 10 (11 per cent) faced the same for investment advice.
Clearly though, people know that taking advice makes good sense – and taking it from a qualified, independent adviser is better still.
We are all up to our ears with Christmas coming. But in early January, by doing a start-of-year financial review, we can start saving money for next year's Christmas season. Pencil it in.
Just like those shrewd people who bought this year's Christmas cards in last year's January sales - or the family in Whoville who agreed to write each other's cards in pencil, so they could use them again.
Michael Kennedy is an independent financial adviser and pensions specialist, and can be contacted on 028 71886005 . Further information is available on the Facebook page 'Kennedy Independent Financial Advice Ltd'