Take a paycut and invest in your own financial futureA short post for this cold and wet Saturday afternoon.

To achieve financial independence you need to amass sufficient money/investment/assets to provide “unearned income” to replace your “earned income”.

Most will fail to achieve this in their lifetime simply because they spend first and then investment what is left (typically nothing!).

Those who build wealth know that you need to save first then spend what is less.

By effectively giving yourself a pay cut, say 10% of net income, you set this aside as your money for tomorrow. Only then do you spend what is left.

Whatever you decide to invest this money in, make sure it is taken from your bank account by Direct Debit immediately after payday, thus avoiding the temptation to spend it!!

Good luck ūüôā

I have just read a great post over at Plonkee. Plonkee talks about the need to effectively put your investment strategy on “auto-pilot” – with money being dripped into stakeholder pensions and Stocks and Shares ISA’s on a regular basis.

They key with any long-term investment strategy is to start as soon as possible – tomorrow is too late!

This reminded me of an article I wrote on the Rule of 72 and the Time Value of Money. The rule of 72 simply states that whatever rate of interest your money is enjoying, divide that rate into the number 72 and that is the number of years it will take your money to double in value.

For example, at 6% per annum, your money invested today will double in value after (the maths bit! – 72/6) 12 years.

So the sooner you start investing the more of these “12 year bits” you can accumulate in your lifetime.

The other benefit of starting as soon as possible is the benefit of “compound interest” – this effectively is where “money makes money”. If I invest ¬£100 today, at a rate of interest of 5% I will have ¬£105 at the end of the current tax year – in year 2 my amount invested is now ¬£105 – I will earn 5% on this total amount – so in effect my ¬£5 interest received in year 1 is now earning interest in its own right – “money making money”.

Present day investment environment

Most of you will be aware of the recent falls in world stock markets – it would be strange if you hadn’t heard about them!

Well it’s not all bad news – the only people who lose money in a falling stockmarket are those who need or have to cash in their investments. Everyone else has simply made what is known as a “paper loss” – in reality you haven’t lost anything – it’s just on paper – the only time you have made a real loss is when you cash it in.

Why is this of interest to the shrewd investor?

The shrewd investor will be the one who has continued to invest over the last year or so – on a regular basis to benefit from “pound cost averaging” – as they have been able to buy more and more shares at a lower price.

Any investment in the stock market should be viewed as a long-term strategy and I personal am looking at a minimum 10 year timeframe for each investment I make – I only invest the money if I am willing to hold that investment for 10 years.

Anyone who is committed to increasing their personal wealth would be strongly recommended to buy a financial calculator.

I bought my first financial calculator when I was at University some 18 years ago, it was a Hewlett Packlard 10B Business Calculator, and I still use it today. The model has been updated now РHewlett Packard 10BII Рbut the new model still offers the same great facilities I have come to know and love.

It carries out all the normal calculations you would expect of a scientific calculator, but also provides the ability to calculate the following:

Growth of a set level of regular savings, given amount, rate of interest and term in years is known
Net Present Value (of a range of regular inflows of cash)
Internal Rate of Return
Compound Interest Calculations
Time Value of Money

For example, if I save £100 per month, for 25 years, at 6% interest this calculator will calculate the future value of my savings (the answer is £69,299!). If I change this to 26 years, the answer is now £74,807 Рan additional £5,508 for investing for another 12 months!!!

For retirement planning, say I have identified that I need a pot of £360,000 in 23 years time to retire on the income I need to live in retirement, I can calculate how much I need to invest on an annual or monthly basis, assuming any rate of return, to hit the target.

The third calculation I like to use the calculator for is calculating how long money will last for, for example, I have £10,000 today and I wish to draw £250 per month from it. Based on an interest rate of 4%, my calculator shows me that my money will last for 43 months.

Here’s the manual¬†(4.0MB)¬†for my Hewlett Packard¬†calculator – it shows all the different calculations you can do with a financial calculator.

Buy a financial calculator from Amazon.

Related articles:

Rule of 72 – Time Value of Money

It’s Not How Much you Save, But How Long

In this new feature we will answer some of the many questions we have been receiving from visitors to shrewdcookie.com. It is often said that if you ask a question chances are that many other people also want to ask that very same question.

Although we receive a large number of personal questions we have to remind you that we do not give financial advice on this website – we encourage you to visit an independent financial adviser, solicitor or accountant if you wish to discuss any particular course of action which may be prompted by an article you read on our site.

1. What are the new ISA allowances announced in the recent Budget?

The ISA limit is increasing from ¬£7,200 to ¬£10,200. The change comes into effect for the over 50’s from 6th October 2009 and from 6th April 2010 for the rest of the population. Of the new ¬£10,200 limit, upto ¬£5,100 will be allowed for Cash ISA investment, with any surplus between the amount you place in a Cash ISA up to ¬£10,200 being available to invest in a stocks and shares ISA.

2. Inheritance Tax – who pays?

The liability for paying inheritance tax lies in the hands of the executors/administrators of the deceased’s estate. Inheritance tax is payable within 6 months after the end of the month in which the person passed away. It is possible to pay Inheritance Tax in instalments over up to 10 years – this is the case in circumstances where say the estate includes a house. There is an interest charge if you pursue this method of paying Inheritance Tax – http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ for more details.

3. I am married to someone who was not born in this country – how does this affect our Inheritance Tax position.

Where a spouse is deemed to be non-Uk domciled then the Interspousal transfer is limited to £55,000, there in no limit to the Interspousal transfer where both partners are UK domiciled Рno liability to inheritance tax on first death if you leave all your assets to your marital partner. Consult a solicitor or accountant about your own particular situation.

4. How do I get a State Pension Forecast?

To obtain a forecast of your state pension entitlement, based on your national insurance record you need to fill out and submit a form BR19 – this article – “How Much State Pension will YOU get” gives more details.

5. If I invest a lump sum now how can I easily calculate how it will grow between now and retirement?

Using the Rule of 72 – by assuming an interest rate and dividing this into 72 will tell you how long that money will take to double in value. For example, at 6% your money will double in value every (72/6) 12 years. If you had say 36 years to retirement, at 6% growth your money would effectively double 3 times. See this article for more details.

6. Can I back-date my ISA investment to use last years allowance?

No – your money needs to be invested by midnight between 5th and 6th April each year to use the ISA allowance for that tax year – there is no way to backdate an ISA investment. A case of “use it or lose it”!

7. I am a female born in 1954 – when do I get my State pension?

State retirement age for men and women is being equalised to 65 for both sexes. See this article . There is also a State Pension Age calculator provided by The Pension Service Рenter some basic details and it will tell you exactly when you qualify for your State Pension.

8. Can I hold Cash in a Stocks and Shares ISA? What is the tax liability?

Yes – many providers offer a “cash park” facility whereby you can invest temporarily in cash and then switch into stocks/funds over the short term. There is the facility to receive interest on this cash held but the interest is subject to tax and a non-taxpayer cannot reclaim this tax either. See this article for more details.

9. What is the minimum deposit on a mortgage for first-time buyers?

There is no legal minimum deposit, the minimum is set by market forces – we are currently suffering from the “credit crunch” whereby lenders are being cautious about lending to people particularly with the housing market currently falling. Therefore, more and more people are being expected to make a deposit when buying their first homes – typically 10% or more is required to obtain a good interest rate product – see¬†“5 tips¬†for¬†first-time buyers” for more details.

10. What is the “deferred period” on my income protection plan for?

The deferred period is the time between notifying the claim to the life office and the benefit being paid out. The plan is designed to provider a replacement income in the event of long-term absense due to illness or accident. The longer the deferred period, the lower the risk to the insurance company of having to meet a claim which therefore means a lower premium. See these article on “income protection” for more information – “Income Protection – an introduction”¬†and “Critical Illness Cover versus Income Protection”.

These are just some of the areas we have received enquiries on in the past month. Although we cannot reply directly please ask a question and we will try to feature it in the next FAQ article next month. Add a comment below or complete this short form to contact us.

Simon

Long Term Savings – the need to start early

Saving for income in retirement can be a daunting thought for most people –¬†the problem they face is that they simply don’t know how much they need to save between now and retirement.

In this article we consider the time value of money, and in particular, the benefits to be enjoyed from “compound growth”. In later articles we consider just how you go about working out how much you need to invest to plan for your own retirement income.

The Rule of 72

In the article “The Rule of 72 – the Time Value of Money” we discussed a simple technique for calculating how your money grows over time whereby dividing the rate of growth you are enjoying on your money into 72 shows the number of years it takes for your money to double in value.

For example – if you were lucky enough to receive 6% annual interest on your money in a savings account then this would double in value every 12 years (72/6=12).

Compound Interest

The principle of compound interest is simply one of “money makes money”. An example of this would be investing ¬£100 in a savings account at 10% interest – after one year your money would have grown to ¬£110 – after two years, ¬£121 – you have earned an extra ¬£1 interest in year two as not only have you earned 10% on your original investment of ¬£100 but you have also earned 10% interest on the ¬£10 interest you made in year one and this continues for as long as you leave that money invested.

Over time, as the proportion of “interest earned” grows then the rate at which your overall investment grows also increases – it’s like a snowball effect – when you roll a small snowball down¬†a hill at first it grows slowly – the more it rolls, the more snow it picks up on each rotation and the faster it moves…….

The following chart shows how ¬£500 per month,¬†enjoying a simple¬†return of¬†5% per annum, grows over a¬†30 year period¬†–

Demonstrating compound interest on regular savings over time

The above chart shows that in the earlier years the rate of growth on the funds invested is relatively low, and as the benefits of compound growth accumulate over time the curve of the graph becomes steeper as each and every £1 of interest earned subsequently earns its own interest!

It’s not how much you save, but how long….

The principle of compound interest therefore brings us nicely into the subject of pension planning, saving for retirement or any other form of long-term saving.

For the sake of this example we will consider that you wish to retire at age 60 and you are now aged 30.

You have calculated that to provide income in retirement of £20,000 per year, ignoring inflation for the time being, and assuming a return of 5% after charges for both the growth on your money being invested BEFORE retirement and for the annuity income you receive AFTER retirement, that to provide £20,000 per annum you need a fund of £400,000 (£20,000 per annum divided by 0.05).

So to achieve this income goal you need to build up a fund between now and retirement of £400,000. Logic says that we simply divide the fund needed between the number of years to retirement and this tells us how much we need to save each year Рin this example £400,000 over 30 years requires a saving of £13,333.33 per year (£1,111.11 per month)

This however doesn’t take into account the growth that you would enjoy on each contribution being paid into the investment vehicle – the contribution made in month 1 would have the longest time to grow – 29 years and 11 months, the contribution made in month 2 – 29 years and 10 months and so on…….

Compound Growth and Regular Savings

Saving on a regular basis into an asset-backed investment, such as a pension fund, or a unit trust held under an ISA umbrella, can benefit from “pound cost averaging”. In a volatile stock market, such as the one we are currently in, investing on a regular monthly basis means that you effectively have 12 chances each year to invest some of your money into the stock market on a day when the market is lower than on other days. The benefit of this is that it brings down the average cost of the units you hold, and ultimately leads to a larger potential profit at the end.

In our example above we calculated the monthly contribution required to build a fund of £400,000 assuming no growth

If we add in say net annual growth of 5% after charges (which should be achievable over the medium to long term) then the monthly investment actually falls to £480.62 per month.

If the rate of growth increases to say 6% per year, the monthly investment falls to £398.20 per month.

If the rate of growth again increases to say 9%, the monthly investment required to hit £400,000 falls to £218.49.

The Cost of Delay

Above we calculated that £480.62 invested at 5% net per annum will grow to £400,000 over a 30 year period. If we reduce the term to 29 years, then to achieve the same fund value, the monthly investment needs to be £512.77 per month Рan additional monthly investment of £32.15 or an additional total investment of £11,188.20 over the life of the investment. This shows the cost of delay.

So by waiting one year, an additional £32.15 per month needs to be invested, each and every month for the whole 29 year period, to provide the same £400,000 fund at age 60.

If the individual were to delay their regular savings by 2 years then a monthly investment of £547.63 would be needed Рdelay by just 5 years and the monthly contribution rises to £671.69 which is probably beyond the means of most families with average income and outgoings.

Starting Early

We have now calculated that the regular saving to build a fund of £400,000 over 30 years, at 5% net return per annum, would be £480.62 per month Рbut what if you were to start earlier?

If you had the foresight to have¬†started last year, and therefore have a period of 31 years over which to make this investment then this monthly investment would fall to ¬£450.90 – start 5 years earlier and the monthly investment would need to be ¬£352.08……………….

Conclusion

In conclusion then it is vitally important that you start saving as soon as possible for retirement income – whether that be through a personal pension, stocks and shares ISA, a deposit account…….

Start as soon as possible!

Ask yourself this question – how many more paydays until retirement? – 30 years – another 360 payslips – it’s later than you think!

Related Article:

Buy a Financial Calculator

Introduction

The Rule of 72 is a great way to help plan for the future. It is a quick and easy method for calculating the impact that growth and inflation can have on your money and other investments.

Compound Growth/Interest

The rule can be applied to investments where the investor is enjoying compound growth. Compound growth, in its simplest terms applies in cases were “money makes money”.

For example, with a savings account you receive an annual interest rate (return) and for the sake of this article we will consider the scenario where you invest £1000 into a savings account and leave it for a number of years with it enjoying an interest rate of say 5% net (those were the days!)

After year 1 your money will have grown to £105.00 (£100 plus 5%) Рat the end of year 2 your money will have grown to £110.25 (£105 at the start of year 2 plus another 5% interest. This is COMPOUND INTEREST Рyour money has earned money Рthe £5.00 interest received at the end of year 1 has itself earned 5% interest; in this case the £5 has earned 25 pence interest.

The Rule of 72 – how to use it

To work out roughly how long it will take for a given investment to double in value, simply divide the interest rate being received into 72 – this will give you the length of time required for money to double in value.

For example, of you are receiving 6% net interest per annum your money will double in value in 12 years (72/6 = 12 years).

Likewise, the same principle can also be used to calculate the effect of inflation (increase in the cost of living) to halve the value of your money – e.g. if inflation is running at 3% per annum then your money will halve in real value (it’s purchasing power) in 24 years.

Why is this Principle important?

When planning your finances for the future you need to make a number of assumptions about how finances will change over time. Retiring today on £20,000 per annum pension may be comfortable for many people Рbut if you retire on £20,000 per annum in say 50 years time then the purchasing power of this income will be considerably less if the cost of living rises steadily over the next 50 years.

If you were to make an assumption that say inflation was to run at an average of 4% per annum then the real cost of living doubles every 18 years.

This is important for anyone planning to build a portfolio of assets over the longer term. In this example, consider someone age 29 – if we assume inflation of 4% per annum the cost of living will have quadrupled between now and retirement at age 65.

If the 29 year-old considers they can comfortable live on £25,000 if they retired today with all mortgages and other debts repaid by the time they retire, then by the time they reach 65, assuming 4% inflation, their portfolio will need to provide them with £100,000 per annum to maintain the same standard of living.