By Emma-Lou Montgomery, Fidelity Personal Investing
Important information: The value of investments can go down as well as up, so you may get back less than you invest. Tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and all tax rules may change in the future. This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to an authorised financial adviser.
It’s January, it’s cold, it’s gloomy and frankly it’s turning into a bit of a slog already. The festive season is well and truly over, your day-to-day finances might well be heaving under the strain of all that Christmas excess and despite all your best intentions, those new year.
Of course, January doesn’t have to be a time of doom and gloom. For many it is an opportunity to kick-start good habits, set new plans into action or make a fresh start.
Whatever your hopes and dreams and wherever the year takes you, having the security of knowing you have already kick-started your savings will make all the difference. So this year, rather than letting the new year blues get to you here are three resolutions for 2020 that you can start today.
1. Pay yourself first
Take a look at how many standing orders and direct debits you have set up that automatically siphon your hard-earned money out of your bank account every month. It’s only right that you pay your dues, but it’s also time to add yourself into the mix.
We can each save £20,000 per tax year into our ISA. That’s a lot of money and as all the profits you make within your ISA are paid to you tax-free, it’s a great, tax-efficient way to get your money working harder for you. So make a resolution to start saving into yours this year.
The trick is to start small but keep your savings regular and it will pay off in the long run. You can save from as little as £50 a month into your ISA. Over time that should grow nicely, and you will soon find that small sum you set aside every month becomes just another of your monthly outgoings. Except this time you will also have something to show for it.
And do the same with your pension. The gender pension gap means that typically women retire with a pension pot worth almost 11% less than a man the same age1. It’s the result of a number of things, from the gender pay gap to taking time off work to have a baby or look after an elderly relative.
It can also be that as wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends, with careers and lives to live we already have a lot on our plates and either simply don’t get the time, or even, if we’re honest, feel a bit selfish spending time and money making sure we’re financially secure.
But you must. You never know what’s around the corner, or what life might throw your way, so it’s important that you don’t get lost in the crowd. Making sure you’re financially independent isn’t selfish, it’s sensible.
Research carried out as part of our Women & Money campaign has found that just by putting aside 1% more of our salary every month we can bridge that 11% pension gap. That means popping, on average, an extra £35 a month into your pension2.
You can pay up to £40,000 in each tax year into your pension pot, including employer contributions (this figure does not include any transfers you wish to make from other pension providers; there is no limit to how much you can transfer). If you pay in more than this you could end up paying up to 45% tax. However, you can use unused annual allowances from the previous three tax years. So, if you haven’t used up the full pension allowance over the last three years, you could potentially pay in more than £40,000 this year, without incurring any tax. For more details please see our guide to Carry Forward.
2. Simplify your finances
Whether you’re trying to keep track of a number of pensions with previous employers, or you’ve got three different ISA accounts or too many funds in your investment portfolio, it’s time to simplify things.
Consolidating your various pensions into one will make checking you’re on target easier and could save you money. Similarly, switching to one ISA can make it easier to see how your overall portfolio is growing.
Combining all your ISA investments together into one account also makes checking you’re on target easier as it’s far easier to see how your overall portfolio is growing when everything is in one place.
There is no transfer fee when you move your ISAs to Fidelity and we will also cover any exit fees your former ISA provider might charge you, up to £500 per person. (
Terms and conditions apply.)
3. Save and invest without sacrifice
How many times do you really use that gym membership? Is your TV package really worth the monthly cost? Could you really taste the difference if you opted for supermarket own-brand rather than the household names you usually go for in your weekly shop?
Make a resolution to make a saving on one thing you’re frittering money on unnecessarily and then invest the money instead. Whether you’re saving for a rainy day, planning to start your own business, have a big life event coming up in 2020, such as a wedding, the arrival of a new baby or a big house move, or maybe your priority is simply to look after your future financial security, then setting up a savings habit that doesn’t require sacrifice means you’re more likely to stick to it and keep going.
So whatever plans you have for 2020 and beyond, make this the year you really take charge of your finances. After all, you’re worth it.
1 The Financial Power of Women report, Fidelity International 2018. Based on Office for National Statistics data for the DC pension pot of the average women/man aged 25-34, on an assumed pension contribution in line with auto-enrolment.
2 The Financial Power of Women report, Fidelity International 2018. Based on Office for National Statistics earnings and pension savings data for the average DC pension pot for a man and a woman at state pension age. Fidelity then calculated what would happen to the value of her pot if a woman added an extra 1% from an early age.
Before deciding to transfer an ISA, please read our transfer guide Moving your investments to Fidelity which explains the options available and gives you the important information you need to know.
Eligibility to invest in a SIPP depends on personal circumstances. You can't normally access money in a SIPP until age 55. It’s important to understand that pension transfers are a complex area and may not be suitable for everyone. Before going ahead with a pension transfer, we strongly recommend that you undertake a full comparison of the benefits, charges and features offered. To find out what else you should consider before transferring, please read our pension transfer factsheet.
If you are in any doubt whether or not an ISA or pension transfer is suitable for your circumstances we strongly suggest that you seek advice from an authorised financial adviser.