Financing the Life You Really Want

Our experience is that clients almost always have more financial resources than they realise - our job is to help them bring those resources to their assistance.

These just a few examples of how you might find those extra resources:

1) Review of your assets and especially check for bank accounts and other investments which you had forgotten about. ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) invested in stock market funds fifteen years ago may well be worth more than twice what you put away and there is no tax to pay when you cash them in.

2) Review all utility costs such as electricity, gas, telephones and household insurances. Deals change quickly and you can almost certainly reduce the amount you are paying - be careful to read the small print, though, and repeat the exercise each year.

3) Do you have a spare room which can be let long term or short term? Many opportunities have arisen in recent years with the changes in technology such as Airbnb. You might even rent out your sofa to a friend in need of short term accommodation if you don't have a spare bed!

4) Household items no longer required which can be sold and which are taking up unnecessary space - web sites such as eBay provide an easy way to do this - plus you get to meet some really interesting people!

5) Work a few extra hours each week using a second skill - many students work part time to raise extra cash and it doesn't have to stop when you finish college. Perhaps you have a qualification to teach English as a foreign language? Or can bake wedding cakes? Or you might be able to drive for a few hours a week - see Uber. Consider becoming a mystery shopper in your spare time - see  Secret Shopping as an example. It doesn't have to be forever.

6) Cancel subscriptions to organisations no longer attended such as gyms or museums or online services - easy to miss these as they are often renew annually rather than monthly.

Perhaps most important of all is that, once you have identified your dream, you will be willing to do whatever it takes to realise it.

Expenditure on items you once thought were essential cease to be so and you will find money stays in your bank account longer than it used to.

We'd also recommend monitoring the hard cash which leaves your hand. "Financial leakage" offers plenty of opportunities to hold on to more of the money after a visit to the ATM. Here are some areas you might find where you can reduce your expenditure.

Only one in five people in the UK now smoke but 80% of the population drink alcohol to some degree (the figure is higher if the non-drinking ethnic groups are excluded) so the chances are that there are savings to be made.

The same is true for the another modern habit - coffee.

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1,700,000,000 cups of coffee were sold in the UK in 2015 from more than 20,000 coffee shops - an average of around 35 cups per adult. At an average price of £2.50 per cup that means £87.50 in a year. That may not sound much but remember, that's an average - if you are working in an office block with a Starbucks at the entrance the chances are you are probably buying a lot more.

If you are one of the 20% of the UK population who do smoke then there is even more room for savings if you can stop. The average smoker smokes about twelve cigarettes a day which, at around 40 pence per cigarette, means an annual bill of around £1,750.

The cost of average alcohol consumption varies considerably according to age, sex, location and type of drink but, assuming an average of fifteen units per week then, for example, five pints of beer each week containing three units of alcohol bought in a pub at £4 per pint will cost nearly £1,100 in a year.

A 175ml glass of wine of average strength may be around £4 in the pub (or much more according to type) and contains 2.3 units of alcohol. Six glasses per week for the average drinker will set you back over £26 or £1,350 in a year assuming you never have a large (250 ml) glass as a "treat."

All the above cost are, of course, from taxed income. If you want to know how much salary you need to earn in order to buy coffee, alcohol or cigarettes then you need to add about 50% to these figures.

If you don't want to give up alcohol altogether (life needs to be enjoyable!) then you can still save money by switching to drinking at home.

Even entertaining friends occasionally and providing a few nibbles to go with the drink will probably still be cheaper than making frequent visits to the pub. This is a route which many people seem to have taken as more than 1,400 pubs closed in 2015 out of a total of around 53,000.

Once you've got the seen the dream of your Life Plan in your head, it's amazing how easy it is to find something you don't really need and which can be sacrificed to realise the dream.

We'd also highly recommend that you "make a searching and fearless…. Inventory" of where the money is going. There are all sorts of personal accounts programs available these days but a good place to start is with a very simple spreadsheet.

You don't have to do this forever. Two or three weeks is probably enough to give you a good handle on where the cash in your pocket is going.

Every time you spend cash, simply allocate the money to one of the headings on the spreadsheet and keep a daily total. No spreadsheet can cater for the spending habits of every individual so adjust the form as necessary to suit your own circumstances.

You can take this one step further by analysing your bank statements for the last say, three months (twelve months is better but we'll start gently…..)

A further stage of the spending analysis is to agree to buy everything with cash for a set period - again, two weeks is probably a good time. Seeing cash on the counter rather than keying in the PIN number of your credit card really brings home to you the money that is going out of your bank account.

When it comes to the Life Planning process we are not here to judge the rightness or wrongness of your spending habits. You are the one who makes the choices - we never tell you what to do. We are only here to help you identify what you truly want in life and then realise the dream.