Those of you ‘in the know’ will appreciate that turning 50 is a huge milestone; not necessarily an unpleasant one but a milestone all the same.
It’s not so much feeling your age; as a recent survey showed, 50 plusers are happier and feel younger than ever; it’s more to do with having a sense of responsibility, wanting to get your house in order, financially speaking.
Reap the rewards
You will no doubt have noticed that over 50 is a big deal in the personal finance arena, with products and services specifically designed for the ‘older’ so called ‘grey market’. Whether you are thinking about home insurance, car insurance or looking to make the right investment, it really pays to shop around as there are deals to be had.
Whatever your age it makes sense to sit down and review your personal finances on a regular basis but for some reason this feels ever more significant when reaching the landmark age of 50; but where exactly should you start?
Start with the basics
A good starting point is your household bills, from saving money on your energy supply to reducing the cost of your home insurance. Take, your gas and electricity for instance; if you have never switched energy supplier there is a good chance you are paying way too much and could save hundreds of pounds a year.
The same applies to the various insurance payments you make. Never automatically agree to your renewal without first comparing quotes; a process that is quick and easy when using a comparison website like Over50choices. Unfortunately you don’t get any benefit for being a loyal customer these days as all the big discounts appear to be saved for the new customers, so look around before signing on the dotted line.
You will also find your age makes a difference with car insurance as over 50s are viewed as a much lower risk and therefore costs tend to be lower; that is of course as long as you have a clean record! Enjoy it while it lasts though as your premiums will start to creep up when you reach your 70s and 80s.
Look after yourself
Another type of insurance you may want to consider is health insurance; whilst this may seem more of a luxury, it could prove invaluable to both you and your family if you become ill.
Plans are fairly flexible these days and there are ways you can reduce your premiums and still receive fast treatment from top consultants, perhaps by increasing the excess you pay per claim or agreeing to be treated by the NHS if treatment is available within 6 weeks.
Again a comparison website will guide you through costs and what you can expect to get for your money.
Have a long term plan
Then of course there is the big question of pensions, annuities and savings; basically how you are going to fund your retirement. With the recent and imminent changes planned for 2015, we have so much more freedom with our pensions but it is important to seek professional advice to ensure you agree on the best course of action. After all we are living much longer lives so your money may need to work for you for a considerable amount of time.
At this point I am certain many of you would prefer to put your head back in the sand and not think about it but don’t worry, you’re not alone as 1 in 3 over 50s believe they have insufficient funds for a comfortable retirement. The key is not to go on avoiding it as options are available. Think about when you plan to retire, whether you should plan to work part time; perhaps downsizing may help.
An increasing number of people are turning to equity release as a way of improving the quality of their retirement years; releasing cash from their home as a way of bolstering retirement income. This is not a decision that should be taken lightly however so needs careful consideration, discussion with the family and of course advise from the professionals.
At the end of the day help is on hand to guide you through the process of exploring your options so grab the bull by the horns and put a plan in place; before it really is too late.
Look to the future
Finally it helps to think about what will happen to your family when you are no longer around; not a nice subject to contemplate I know but an important one all the same.
Do you have or need life insurance to help the family continue living a similar lifestyle; will there be debts to pay off; should you consider Over 50 life insurance to leave some money for the family or look at prepaid funeral plans to save those you care about having to arrange and pay for everything when the time comes?
It may seem a bit like a mammoth task but you will feel as though a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. And once you have become accustomed to the process of comparing and getting the best service at the right price, it won’t feel such an onerous job when you come to review things, either when your policies are due for renewal or there is another milestone in your life such as another big birthday, a family wedding or perhaps even grandchildren!
At this point you will probably realise that turning 50 was in actual fact a piece of cake.
This article was written for Michael May by Ashley Shepherd; Managing Director of Over50choices, a personal finance and comparison website for the Over 50s, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.