Ask the Expert: I want to get my finances in order - where do I start?

Carl Lamb on getting your finances in order in 2020. Picture; Getty Images

Carl Lamb on getting your finances in order in 2020. Picture; Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

This week our reader wants to know how they can start getting their finances in better shape.

Carl Lamb of Smith and Pinching responds.

Reader question:

I'm pleased to say that 2019 was a really good year for me - I was given a promotion and a good bonus, so I now have surplus income and a bit of cash put by.

I do have a number of savings and investments which I've bought over the years, but I feel now is probably the time to be a bit more organised about my financial planning.

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Carl Lamb response:

It's true that many people approach savings and investments on a scattergun basis - doing what feels right at a specific point in time. It's really important that your planning should be based on a strategy that is taking you on a path to end up where you want to be at various points in your life.

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I highly recommend that, as we start 2020, you spend some time putting together a financial plan - ideally with the help of an independent financial adviser (IFA). An IFA will look at all your circumstances - income, expenditure, retirement planning, family factors, investment risk profile, objectives, tax liabilities etc - before advising on a strategy that's suitable for you both now and in the future.

That's not to say that your financial plan should be fixed for all time: it will need to be

reviewed and adjusted regularly in order to ensure that it continues to meet your needs and is adapted as your circumstances change.

The important point to make is that none of the elements of your financial planning should be viewed in isolation.

Your savings and investments, your retirement planning, your family protection (life insurance etc) and your tax planning should be viewed as a whole and work together to give you the best possible chance of meeting your objectives.

This is why a financial adviser will spend a lot of time with you at the start of your professional relationship as it's hugely important that he or she completely understands every aspect of your financial life.

Any opinions expressed in this article do not constitute advice.

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may get back less than the amount invested.