Why You Need a Financial Plan

I recently interviewed CEO of Blue Sky Financial Planning, Gary Neild on the Fearless Finance podcast around the topic of why you need a financial plan. If you would like to listen here is a link

This quote from Alice in Wonderland came to mind:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

The starting point with a sound financial plan is understanding two things. Where you are now and where you would like to go. Or in financial terms the current state of your income, expenditure, assets and liabilities together with a clear understanding of your goals and expectations for the future.

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In our conversation, Gary pointed out that many of his clients arrive with one issue in mind, only to discover their financial priorities are something completely different.

The many benefits of working with a reputable financial planner seem clear and obvious to me as someone having been around the industry for many years. Yet for others there seems to be an element of resistance around paying for advice, feeling a sense of shame or embarrassment at their lack of knowledge or perhaps a belief that they can do better on their own.

Let’s take these one at a time. Firstly financial planning is a heavily regulated industry. The negativity around mis-selling or bad advice from the wild west years has long dissipated. Financial planners need to be qualified and keep their knowledge up to date. If you needed help from a lawyer, accountant or architect would you not expect to pay a fee?

Point two fear of embarrassment. How did it become a norm that we are all expected to be financial literate? Chances are that money skills were not taught as part of your school or university curricula. How then do we learn to manage our money? The occasional article in the Sunday papers or a YouTube video? If you approach a conversation with a financial planner with curiosity and the recognition that they are likely to help you save or generate substantially more money than you could do with out them, then hopefully that conversation becomes a little easier.

P.s they don’t care about your levels of financial education, you don’t have to take a test to work with them.

Number three, you feel that you can make it on your own. There are undoubtedly many success stories of people who successfully learned to invest, whether in the markets, property or currencies, but equally those we don’t hear about who came unstuck. Financial planning is not confined to making a few quid speculating, but rather a long term approach which considers all your life goals and aspirations.

Whether for estate planning, ethically reducing your tax burden or growing wealth for the future a good financial planner can help, regardless of your current levels of knowledge, experience or bank balance.

Selling a Property? Check Out These 4 Tips To Increase Your Returns

In 2020, the pandemic and unstable economic climate have caused many families and households to gain interest in homeownership. In turn, this has caused a housing market bubble, which has caused the median home prices to skyrocket to 407,000 US dollars – an 18% increase compared to the previous year!

So, if you have decided to put your house or property on the market today, you can obtain great returns from your asset – especially as house prices are so high. However, the competition in the housing market has never been fiercer, and understanding how to make the most of your property is essential. If you are not sure where to start, check out the tips below. 

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Consider Staging the Property

If you have an empty or older property, your real estate agent might have suggested you stage your property to close the sale faster. However, of course, this service comes at a cost – but is it a cost worth paying)

The 2015 National Association of Realtors Home Staging Report tells us that staging a property can increase its market value by 10 to 20%. And, if you are looking to close the sale fast, you should keep in mind that staged properties are sold 85-90% faster than others. 

While this isn’t necessary, your home can gain value and find a new owner in less time. After all, potential buyers will want to imagine themselves living in the property, and an unkempt living space might not be so appealing!

Hire a Marketing Agency Specializing in Real Estate

When deciding to sell your home, you will have to treat your property as an asset. Just like in the case of other industries and sectors, to close the right deal, you will need to tap into the right market, target the right buyers, and understand what channels of communication to use. 

Working with a specialized marketing agency that focuses on the property market can help you brand your home. The marketing agency will be able to target potential buyers by demographics, income, marital status, location, age, and time of day. 

Invest in High-Yield Renovation Projects

If you are looking to buy a home, you should look at your finances early and complete all the projects to increase the returns from your sales before putting it on the market. However, not all renovation projects will yield the same returns! For example, renovating a kitchen or a bathroom are expensive projects which can increase your family’s comfort level but can prevent you from recouping the money spent. 

Instead, redoing the sidings, garden, flooring, and repainting the property are inexpensive tasks that can increase your home’s market value.

First Impressions Matter!

Nothing boosts the value of a property like its curb appeal. Your potential buyers are likely to feel an emotional drive and make up their first impression of the property within seconds of seeing it. 

Luckily, you can improve the curb appeal of your home by painting the exteriors, fixing the roof, landscaping the garden, and improving your driveway. And don’t forget to repaint your front door! 

4 Things to Consider Before Purchasing a New Fleet Vehicle

Our fleet vehicles are the lifeblood of our business. It is imperative that we give them the best treatment and care, so they can perform to their best every day.

The importance of having the perfect vehicle for your fleet was highlighted by a recent study which found that a fleet vehicle with more than 100,000 miles on it has an 80% chance of reaching 300,000 miles or higher.

If you find that your fleet of cars and trucks are high-mileage and due for maintenance, you should look into some quality options at an affordable price.

4 Things to Consider Before Purchasing a New Fleet Vehicle

Before buying a car or truck for your fleet, there are a few things you should consider. By following these principles, you will increase the chances of finding a new vehicle that is economical and has a longer lifespan.

Vehicle purchase decisions have a significant impact on the company’s bottom line. You need to be sure that you have done your research and carefully considered what features are most important to your company’s driving needs before purchasing any type of vehicle for your fleet.

With the rising number of new car options in the market, it’s time to consider what you really need and how much you can afford before purchasing a new fleet vehicle.

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1. How much does each driver spend on gas?

There are several factors that go into how much a driver spends on gas including the distance to drive, the number of miles per gallon, and the cost of gasoline in their area. Of course, electric vehicles are now also a consideration, as are hybrid ones.

2. Should you lease or should you buy?

The decision to lease or buy a new fleet vehicle is an important one. It should be made with careful consideration of the company’s needs, including how much it will cost to maintain the vehicle over its lifetime.

3. Look at the overall cost of ownership and maintenance of different makes in comparison with each other

Which vehicle option is the best value for your money? The cost of ownership and maintenance of a car or truck can vary significantly depending on the make. It’s important to know these costs – servicing, replacing truck tyres, replacing various other parts – before deciding which vehicle you should buy.

4. Consider how often you plan on replacing them in comparison to when they will need an expensive repair or replacement

As vehicles get older, they start to require more maintenance and repairs. To avoid spending a lot of money on vehicles in the long run, it is a good idea to buy a new one.

Replacing an old car or truck with a new one can be costly for fleets. They have to account for the depreciation in the value of their previous car and they would need to put money aside for future repairs. But if fleets invest in a new vehicle that may cost them less than what they would have spent on their old one, then that is an obvious choice.

Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make When Shopping For Loans

Debt is not necessarily a dirty word. Most of us make use of it, whether responsible or not. In fact, it can be a highly valuable tool to help you when it comes to planning for your financial future. However, debts can turn bad when you don’t think hard enough or plan meticulously enough when it comes to getting out loans. Here, we’re going to look at some of the mistakes you should ensure that you avoid when you are looking for, applying for, or paying off loans.

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Not knowing how much you need and what for

The first thing you should do is make sure that you’re getting a loan for the right reason. If you’re borrowing simply for the sake of having some extra spending cash or as a debt management strategy, then you should probably take the time to look for other options instead. You should also get an idea of how much you need to borrow, in particular. For instance, if you’re borrowing so you can buy a house, then use a mortgage calculator to see how much you’re likely to need. You don’t want to borrow more than you have to, after all, or to borrow less than you need.

Failing to budget for those loans

One of the most important steps of managing your finances is building a budget. Your budget is the structured approach to expenses that makes sure you have enough to pay off all of your essentials, enough for some discretionary expenses, and some put aside for savings goals. Get a thorough understanding of what you’re going to be paying back each month and make sure that you put it into your budget. If you see that you don’t have room for it, you need to consider other options.

Not paying attention to the fees

You should not be looking at only the interest that you have to pay on your loan, nor even how much you’re going to be paying monthly. Depending on the kind of loan that you take out, you might find that there are all kinds of one-time or irregular fees that you have to pay. This can be at the start of the loan, once a year, or even at the end of the loan. Consider the loan type, look up some common fees, such as common mortgage fees, and get an idea of how much they might add. Do your research so you can tell when lenders are adding fees simply because they can, rather than because they’re necessary. This can help you weed out those greedy lenders that you don’t want to work with.

Not getting your credit in order

Your credit score is going to determine the kind of loans you have. A low credit score is going to equal higher interest and less control over your loan terms. The higher your credit, the less likely you’re going to have to pay back and the more flexibility that lenders will offer you. No credit history is almost as detrimental as bad credit history, too. Low credit options like direct lender loans can help you start building your credit history. Otherwise, make sure that you’re taking steps to address any black marks on your credit report, such as paying any late fees, lowering your credit utilization rate, and tracking down and fixing any errors.

Not having your financials at the ready

When you apply for a loan, you should make sure that you have your financial details available to share with them. This can include bank balances, as well as reports of income, and the value of assets that you might have. The more information you can provide, the surer the lenders will be about how much you can responsibly borrow. Not having your financial details to hand can urge them to be more cautious since they don’t fully know your financial situation. Estimates can be bad, as well, as you might over-estimate or under-estimate, either taking on more debt than you can handle or shooting yourself in the foot so you can’t borrow as much as you need.

Not letting your credit “rest” for a while before

Lenders take a look at your credit report to help them judge whether or not you are a reliable partner in a credit agreement. Not only do they want to see that you’re able to manage a loan with them, but they want to make sure that you don’t like you’re making erratic or rash decisions or that you are already too deep into existing credit agreements. For that reason, even if you have accessible overdrafts or credit cards, you should avoid using them for a while, just while you’re applying for a loan. In fact, if you pay them off somewhat and lower your credit utilization rate, that can even help by bumping your credit score.

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Applying for too many loans at once

You don’t want too much activity on your credit report when applying for loans. When someone performs a credit check, you want to make sure that everything looks nice and calm. When you apply for a loan that results in a hard credit check, your credit report is going to keep a record of it. As such, if you’re applying for five loans at once, each of those lenders is going to be able to see that. Someone applying for a lot of loans at once isn’t going to look very reliable and, as such, you’re more likely to get rejected. Not only that, but when you get rejected after a hard credit check, it can drive your credit score down. As such, apply for one loan at a time and only after you’re reasonably sure that you’re in a good position for an accepted application. Don’t expect or put plans in motion based on that acceptance, but just put yourself in the best possible position for it.

Closing your credit cards before applying

You might think “I don’t want to look like I have too much debt on my plate” before applying. This is a good notion. However, this doesn’t mean that you close open credit agreements. Even if you are a little bit into your credit card and haven’t fully paid it off, keeping it open is better than closing. Keeping your credit card open or keeping an overdraft shows that you are able to reliably maintain a credit agreement. In a similar vein, you shouldn’t pay loans ahead of time to close them earlier. Rather than showing how good you are at paying the money back, it shows that you can’t stick to pre-planned terms of the agreement so it can actually hurt your chances of a successful application a little. Of course, too many open credit cards and loans can hurt your credit score, so you need to balance it.

Making late payments on other loans

This one is relatively simple. Make sure that you are current with all loans before you apply for new ones. Even being temporarily late on other loans can give lenders justified cause for concern. You can mitigate the damage done to your credit score, at least, by catching up with what you owe ASAP. There are plenty of payment reminder apps that you can use to make sure you know what you have to pay and when you have to pay it, which can make it easier to keep current with loans, bills, and other regular payments.

You Probably Have More Money Than You Think

Most of us would like to have more money in our bank accounts. It does, after all, make life a lot easier. Alas, for most of us, the relationship we have with our bank balance is more related to how little of it we have. However, it’s always worth remembering that you may have more money than you think — most people do! In this blog, we’re going to look at some of the most common money sources that people overlook. You might not be able to call upon all of them, but there’ll likely be one or two that’s relevant to you. And that could just result in improved finances.

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Cut Out Spending

First thing’s first — you probably have more money than you think, all because you’re spending it on things that really aren’t necessary. If you were to take a look at your finances, then you may see that your weekly coffee or lunch expenses are far too much. Once you’ve made that assessment, you can work on curbing your spending. Your bank balance might be much, much better within a few weeks, all because you curbed your spending a little.

Ask for a Raise

Many people think that the amount of money they get paid by their company is a natural force, and thus there’s nothing they can do to influence the amount. But this isn’t the case. Not only is it possible to ask for a raise, but you should ask for a raise. The secret among bosses is that many of them are happy to give raises because they know that it’s much more expensive to hire someone new if the employee leaves. There is a right and wrong way to go about it, however, so make sure that you’re on the right side of the line.

Renting Out a Room

Owning a home can be deeply enjoyable, sure, but there’s no avoiding the fact that it can be expensive. And in some cases, extremely expensive. One way to claim back some money from your property is to look at renting out a room. All you’ll need to do is make the room presentable, make sure you can legally rent it out, and then go through the process of finding a tenant. If you live somewhere popular, then you might find that you can earn a sizable income. Of course, it’ll be much better if you enjoy living with other people!

Liquidate Your Assets

It could be that you’re asset-rich but cash-poor. While that can be OK on a small-term basis, eventually, it can cause problems. If your money is tied up in assets, then look at liquidating them. For example, let’s say you have a business, but you need access to cash. There are websites where you can learn everything that’s involved in selling a business. Once you have that information, you can get to work on getting the best possible price — and seriously boosting your bank balance. 

What’s Rightfully Yours 

It can be annoying to have to face financial issues. But it’s outright problematic if you’re facing financial issues even when you should have money in the bank. There are many instances when people end up paying bills that other people should foot. For example, if you’ve been in an incident on the roads, and it wasn’t your fault, then you should be the one paying the medical and automobile repair fees. The person who was responsible should. When you look into it, you’ll probably find that there are a few cases where you’re paying for something that you shouldn’t. It might not be as dramatic as a car accident, either — it could be that you’re paying a bill that a friend or family member should pay.

Taxes and Credits

Another area where people often leave money on the side is when it comes to taxes and credits. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for money from the government, or there might be ways in which you can reduce your tax bill. In many cases, you might have to dig a little deeper to learn what they are since they don’t always advertise the money that people are owed. If you’re coming into a lot of money, then it can be a good idea to hire a tax lawyer — their words of advice might just save you huge sums of cash.

Old Items

It’s also possible that you have money wrapped up in your belongings. If you’ve lived in the same house for a long time, then it’s possible that you’ve got plenty of valuable items located around your property. They say that Americans have thousands of dollars worth of junk lying around their houses! If you’re no longer using those items, then why not list them for sale? You weren’t using them anyway, and you might just find that you can add a month’s salary to your bank account. Plus, in decluttering your home, you will be making your home nicer and might just boost your home’s real estate value.

Old Accounts 

Finally, let’s think about any old accounts that you might have. As you go through life, you’ll likely find that you have money dotted around in various places, but if you stop using those accounts, then you might forget that you have extra money lying around. It’s particularly a good idea to check any old digital accounts — might you have some money in a PayPal account, for instance? We’re not saying that you’ll find large amounts of cash, but you might just find some money — and since you didn’t know that it was there, you’ll probably be pretty happy with whatever amount it is!


Money is one of those things that always feels a little out of reach. But as we’ve seen, it’s sometimes possible that we have more of it than we think. We just need to look for it and take steps to release that money. Take the tips above, and you’ll have done just that.