New Year financial resolutions from Bryan Manley-Green, our Carefree Down-to-Earther
Do you have any financial new year’s resolutions for 2017?
For us, it’s a very new year, with very new challenges.
Not only has the world we knew ended (well, that’s what it feels like politically), I’m now married to a pensioner (who doesn’t get a pension until later this year), so our regular income has been slashed to virtually nothing. As I’m self-employed, I never really know what my monthly income will be from month to month.
Being "carefree" our priority is to see what holidays we can afford this year – although the spectre of further plunges in Sterling are exceedingly worrying – however, what’s most important is to make the most out of life and not wait until it’s too late to enjoy ourselves!
Also, our car is getting quite old, although there’s nothing really wrong with it, now might be a good time to change it as cars are likely to become more expensive this year due to the fall in the value of the pound.
Is there something you would like to try for the first time with your finances?
We’re looking at a few things such as using a local stockbroker, I have a self-managed Stocks and Shares ISA, but have basically stuck a pin in a magazine with varying results! I might also look at a bit of crowdfunding – especially looking at some perks that come with the investments which might make it interesting.
Is there something you have learned from the last year that you would not repeat in 2017?
I’ll definitely be looking more carefully at bonds before buying any! Having lost my money in the Providence Bond offering, I’ll probably give anything that isn’t regulated by the FCA a lot more scrutiny, if not a wide berth.
Having said that, my Wellesley Bond seems to be doing well, and I’m getting my 7% a year as promised so far.
What is your strategy for this year’s ISA season?
I’m "lucky" to have a cash ISA paying over 2% at the Coventry Building Society, but who knows how long that will last. With the new £1,000 interest free tax band, it’s really hard to find anything paying more than the Santander 123’s 1.5%, making ordinary cash ISAs a little irrelevant for us. Also, given that the immediate tax advantages of putting money into a pension seem to outweigh ISAs, there’s less of an incentive to look at cash ISAs.
I might revisit the shares in my stocks and shares ISA – I tend to buy them and forget them, but regularly look at the perks given with shares. Rather than looking at growth and dividends, feel that I might get more out of life with some perks, but they’re very few and far between these days.
The myriad of ISAs currently available is bamboozling, it does seem that things could do with some simplifying.
I’m not sure whether I will be opening a new ISA this year, but if I do it will be an innovative ISA, but I’d want over 5%, which I am not sure is sustainable. So I’m waiting to see what innovative ISAs come out. We’ve got some money in peer to peer lenders, but their rates have been lowered recently and I do worry that one or two might have overstretched themselves – we had an email from one saying that they weren’t really looking to take in any more funds as they didn’t have enough borrowers who met their criteria.
My top tip for making the most out of ISAs is - make sure you don’t just put money into an ISA for the tax efficient status – other, better offerings might well be available outside the wrapper.