Personal finance: Five ways to make the most of your savings

Nigel Pullen offers some advice on how GPs can make their money work as hard as they do.

(Photo: iStock.com/BrianAJackson)
(Photo: iStock.com/BrianAJackson)

Working out how to make the most of your savings might not be top of your to do list right now – but it should be. Here are five easy tips to get your savings working as hard as you do.

1. Create a savings plan

You know that savings are important and perhaps you have a figure in mind of what you would like to have in retirement or how much money it is going to cost to put the children through university but you probably do not have a clearly defined finance plan in place.

Approach your plan by considering if your saving aims are short or long-term. If you’re saving for the short-term, planning a luxury holiday or buying a new car for example, you’ll want to have your money somewhere easily accessible such as in a cash ISA.

If you’re saving for a longer-term goal, to help children through university or retirement, you could consider investing in the stock market.

2. Understand investment risk

Your risk profile is the amount of risk you're willing to take with your money and your capacity to deal with any losses. For example, if you lose some or all the money you invest, what effect would this have on your standard of living?

Every investment has some risks. Putting money in the bank means you won’t experience a fall in your investment. However, you could find that the buying power of your money reduces over time due to the impact of inflation. Putting your money in higher risk investments such as shares and property could potentially lead to higher returns over a longer period but you need to be aware of the risks involved.

3. Choose the right investment

Once you understand your level of risk start to look at your investment options. Do you want to stay safe in cash or go high risk or are you somewhere in between? The most common types of investments are cash, fixed interest, stocks and shares and property.

  • Cash: We’d suggest that you should have at least a rainy-day cash fund that is easily available for any unexpected expenditure such as a new boiler or if you can’t work for any reason.
  • Fixed interest investments: These are also known as bonds and generally pay interest for a fixed period. They are mostly considered a lower risk asset than shares.
  • Shares: There are different ways to invest in the stockmarkets from buying shares in individual companies through to investing in funds. If you want access to shares but don’t feel your nerves can cope with the ups and downs of the markets, you could consider a with profits fund.
  • Property: Bricks and mortar have been a popular form of investment although they offer no guaranteed returns.

4. Spread your risk

Consider putting your money in a range of assets so that you won’t be dependent on any one type. If there are fluctuations in the stock market and your shares don’t perform as you’d hoped, you’ve still got funds invested in a cash ISA or property for example that may give you better returns. Many funds will also spread investments across different asset classes to diversify risk.

5. Review regularly

Once you have your savings plan in place make sure you review it at least once a year. Not only will this help you to ensure your cash accounts are offering competitive interest rates but you can also review any underperforming funds.

If you’re not sure where to begin with your savings plan or want to better understand the options open to you based on your risk level talk to a financial adviser who specialises in working with GPs. They’ll be able to work through your plan with you, ensure it stays on track and that your money is working as hard as you are.

  • Nigel Pullen is financial unit planning manager at Wesleyan, a specialist financial mutual for GPs. For more information go to www.wesleyan.co.uk or call 0800 092 1990.

Please remember the value of investments and any income can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. The information contained in this article does not constitute financial advice.

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