Business

What will make your lives more financially joyful?

Santa is scouting around for good financial resolutions, as he wants to knock his money into order for 2022

HELLO, it's Santa here!

It's that time of year again, and here in Lapland we have New Year's resolutions on our mind.

We are thinking hard about what we'll do to make our lives in 2022 even more joyful than this year.

Rudolf, as usual, is one step ahead, he's already made his list - it didn't take long as there's only one item. He has resolved to lay off the whiskey, after single-handedly pushing up the share price of Bushmills by 1p while he was locked up during the pandemic this year (he wasn't born with that red nose, you know).

Getting fit is another popular one: Prancer and Dancer will be doing a lot more prancing and dancing, and Dasher will be dashing - in a half marathon to benefit the Retired Reindeer's Trust.

We've also got a new recruit to our reindeer team, we've named her in honour of our nursing heroes of the NHS. Welcome aboard, Booster!

But let's talk money. I'm scouting around for good financial resolutions, as I want to knock my money into order for 2022. Hopefully this time I'll get beyond Quitters Day (the second Friday of January) before falling off the financial wagon, like I did last year.

That's why I was interested in some new research by Hargreaves Lansdown, showing the steps people are taking to tidy up their financial matters this year.

Well, it's no surprise that the main priority is paying off the debts we've built up – one in five of us have resolved to do that.

Second, many of us (17 per cent) will be shopping around to cut the cost of our bills and outgoings – no wonder, with inflation having topped five per cent, and the cost of energy soaring.

Our third most popular priority, the main concern for one in seven of us, is to get back to saving, or to save more than we have this year.

In fourth place, we will be getting to grips with our pension saving: consulting an adviser to find out where we stand at the moment, and maybe increasing the amount we're paying in.

After that, people are concerned to protect their family, taking life insurance so that their loved ones are provided for if they die, and critical illness insurance, which pays out a tax-free lump sum if they are hit by an unexpected health setback, such as a heart attack, cancer, or stroke.

Many people set the level of their critical illness cover so that it would pay off their mortgage, if they had to stop work and their family suffered the loss of their income.

Another priority, which is a longer-term plan after the other more important issues above have been addressed, is to consider investing any surplus cash we have, perhaps in investment funds.

On that topic, the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November has focussed the minds of many on environmental issues, and so it is no surprise that, within funds investing, there is renewed interest in ESG investing – using funds which favour and promote environmental issues, and which avoid involvement in the oil, gas, military and other non-ethical industries.

So that's how people are thinking about their finances this New Year.

As for me, well I'll be coming down your chimney as usual this Christmas Eve, to leave the presents under your tree. But only you can give your family the best Christmas present of all, by building their financial security.

So, how will you be sorting out your finances this year?

:: Michael Kennedy is an independent financial adviser and pensions specialist and can be contacted on 028 71886005. Further information on Facebook at Kennedy Independent Financial Advice Ltd or at www.mkennedyfinancial.com

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