Over the past month and a half I’ve been sharing with you the kinds of things we should be thinking about as we approach retirement (and many of them apply to people who are as many as ten years away from retirement), but today, I thought I’d zoom out a bit and talk about a kind of philosophy for managing money at any stage of your life. We’ll get back to the seventh, and last, bulletin in the retirement series next week.

What triggered this change of focus was an interview I did last week with Ciara Noble on KFM’s Kildare Focus programme. Ciara asked me on to talk about how young people can save into a pension when they have so many other demands on their income, particularly rent or a deposit for a home.

Rules of thumb

Thanks to her very good questions, we ended up having a wide-ranging conversation about arranging one’s finances. She asked me a lot about rules of thumb; for example, what percentage of your income you should be saving in a pension, how many months’ expenses you should have in a rainy day fund, how much debt is too much and so on.

My answers were always ‘it depends’ and that wasn’t me prevaricating. That is my approach to anyone’s financial questions. Rules of thumb rarely work. A much better approach is to arrange your finances to support the life you want to live.

You can listen to the podcasted interview here. I’m on at 15mins 20secs in.

As I said to Ciara when she asked about starting a pension, don’t get hung up on the contract, the piece of paper, the ‘product’. Focus instead on being financially independent when you can’t or don’t want to work anymore. By focusing on the goal, you can work backwards to figure out what that means in terms of how much you need to be saving, but the point is that you’re more motivated to make it happen, because you’ve thought about it and decided it’s something you want.

Because everybody does

The questions she asked hinted at a barrier that stops most of us from getting a grip on our finances; similar to rules of thumb, it’s conventional wisdom. Oh, I really should get a pension. Oh, I really should get life assurance. Oh, I really should be investing in stocks and shares. Why? I ask my clients. If it’s just because that’s what everybody does, then we need to dig deeper to find the reasons that make sense for you. A progressive financial planner will tailor your finances to suit you, not the other way around.

Reframe how you view your finances

You’ve been reading my blogs for a while. I hope you’re finding them useful. Mainly, I hope they’re making you stop, think and question.

So I’m inviting you to book a no-obligation call with me to see if I can help you reframe some of those questions. You know my approach. Let me help you.

PS

You might have noticed that last week’s newsletter came out on Friday. I had a ‘technical hitch’ on Thursday morning. The ‘IT department’ (me) couldn’t sort it out at the time, so it ended up going out a day late. I’m a sing-adviser business, which may have the odd disadvantage, but the good thing, for you, is that you’ll be advised by me. There’s no passing the book, no explaining to a colleague and no need to get bogged down by the overheads of a behemoth office.