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Top tips to tackle your financial goals

We ask financial experts for their top tips on how you can tackle your money goals, from quick wins to planning for your family’s future.

Read tips on tackling your money goals by selecting from the dropdown menu below
  • Practical planning tips
     Try to keep your paperwork and financial emails organised. Our budget planner can help you keep track of your monthly bills

    It can be tricky to find the perfect time to tackle your personal finance ‘to-do’ list. With so many other daily pressures – work, kids, family or health, to name just a few – it can all too easily slip as a priority. But whether it’s a simple job just to get on top of bills or a bigger task such as planning to pay for a holiday, it’s all about finding the right way to focus.

    To help you with the basics of sorting your money, we’ve asked for three tips from behavioural science expert Ed Gardiner at Warwick University.

    1. Learn to love the filing (and end your admin headache)

    As a first step to tackling your financial to-do list, try to keep your paperwork and financial emails organised, suggests Ed. It will make it easier to come back to, when you’ve got the time to make some decisions.

    “Keep a file for physical paperwork so it’s all in one place and easy to access," says Ed. "Do the same for emails, making a folder in your inbox for any bills, bank statements or insurance policies. Having a copy of everything and knowing where you keep it will make your finances far less stressful now and in the future.”

    He adds: “Even if you don’t read all the small print straightaway, you’ll feel more on top of your finances just knowing where all your documents are if you ever need them.” Our budget planner can help you keep track of your monthly bills, and see how your repayments fit in with other monthly commitments. You can also learn more about straightforward ways to create a budget and manage your money with these helpful tips.

    2. Change the way you think about long-term saving

    “Saving money isn’t a habit that comes naturally to most people, and it’s easy to give into temptations,” says Ed. “Spending money now can be more appealing than putting it into a pension, for example. That’s because the benefits of saving often feel so vague.” Having a clear financial goal can change the way you think about money, as you’ll start to link saving with something tangible and beneficial. Imagine a scenario where you trim your monthly household bills by £73, he says, and save nearly £900 a year.

    Ed believes that when people are given a concrete alternative to the projected saving, they are much more likely to make a better decision. He says: “Rather than think about having £900 in a year’s time, imagine saving that into a pension. If you watch that grow at 5% for 40 years, it could mean you will retire with an extra £6,336. Thinking of it like that will make your long-term goals more relevant to you today.”

    Another study revealed that given two choices, humans will pick the worse deal if it has an immediate benefit1. When offered £100 today or £150 in six months’ time, most choose the former. But, if the question is rephrased and we are offered £100 now and zero in six months, or zero now and £150 in six months’ time, most people choose the second option. Ed says: “This is about trying to make those long-term goals more realistic and understanding the effect that your choice today has on your future self.”

    3. Picture your plans to boost motivation

    It’s easier to save if you’ve set yourself a specific goal, because imagining yourself behind the wheel of a new car, or relaxing on the beach, provides the extra motivation you might need to keep putting money away. Visualising your plans can have the same effect. For example, a study found that people were better at planning for retirement when they were shown a picture of themselves as an older person, helping them better imagine their future2.

    Ed says: “Visualising your future self makes you feel more accountable for the decisions you make today. You almost picture that person as a separate individual and might feel as though your spending today is depriving that person of something in the future.”

    Our Money Management hub helps you keep track of your money, with a range of tools and ideas so you can plan ahead and stay in control.

    Money worries can also cause problems with mental health. Our new guide can help those concerned about its effects.

  • Teach kids about a budget
    Open separate account for older childern using BarclayPlus where they can learn how to manage their money using Lifeskills

    Interest rates, mortgages, savings... or toy shop? Some subjects are definitely easier than others as a way to engage younger kids with money. But with a bit of imagination, you can still make it relevant – and interesting – to their world. Indeed, providing some simple lessons could pay dividends in the future. We’ve asked financial experts James Daley and Pete Chadborn for their tips on teaching kids about money.

    Let kids choose how – and when – to spend their money

    James Daley, founder of consumer advice agency Fairer Finance, says: “We let our six-year-old decide how to spend her pocket money when we go shopping in the hope that she starts to understand the cost of things. She hasn’t got the patience to resist instant gratification yet, but we try to make sure we’re talking regularly about money at home and how we don’t have an unlimited supply of it.”

    Pete Chadborn, director at financial adviser firm Plan Money, agrees that children should be able to make their own mistakes when it comes to money. When his daughter was younger, and the family went on holiday, she was given her full two weeks’ spending money at the start of the trip to manage herself. He says: “She could spend it all on one day or make it last, but I was always very clear that there was no more once it was gone.”

    James adds that getting a paper round at the age of 13 was a key point in his relationship with money. “There was nothing like having some of my own money to help me learn about saving and spending responsibly,” he says. “I’ll encourage my daughter to do the same, or whatever the modern-day equivalent of a paper round is.”

    Why it’s worth splitting their pocket money into three

    The so-called ‘three jar’ method encourages children to split their pocket money between spending, saving and sharing. This way, they can pick up the practice of using money for lots of different things – and that it doesn’t all have to vanish in the sweet shop each week.

    Pete says: “Often, when it comes to children and finances, the best steps are the simplest. But you aren’t born knowing this stuff and it’s not really taught at schools, so parents and carers need to offer help where they can.”

    Pete’s daughter has now finished education and started her first full-time job, but he’s still providing money tips. He has encouraged her to open three separate bank accounts and split her monthly salary between them. One account is for bills, one for savings – a car is the current target – and the final one for living expenses.

    Talk to teens about savings to give them confidence

    Setting your teenager up with a bank account and talking them through their statements can help them to feel financially confident. BarclayPlus is our children’s bank account for 11 to 15-year-olds3. It can be opened with £1, and they can track their money using the Barclays app. They can also receive a personalised debit card with their favourite photo.

    We've also got lots of useful information about our children’s savings options. Teenagers can learn more about managing their money with LifeSkills, which can help young people learn to manage their finances and future careers.

  • Three quick wins to plan for your future
     Plan for the future by keeping your family protected and track down old pension records

    Taking any kind of financial decision about your distant future can be hard – there’s always so much demand for you to focus on the present. But it could really pay off to focus on those parts of your personal finances that can give you peace of mind. We spoke to financial advisers about ways to start addressing your longer-term goals, so you can better enjoy today.

    Protect your family with a life policy

    “Finances can affect everyone in your household, whether you’re a parent with children, or living with friends – and there’s a lot more to think about than just which bills need paying. Simple steps you take today can affect your loved ones for years to come. But the key is to prioritise,” says Pete Chadborn, director at financial adviser firm Plan Money.

    Taking out life insurance and protection is a job that far too often slips down to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ list, notes Pete. But choosing the right policy can protect your family, should the worst happen. “You buy life assurance or protection cover in the hope that you’ll never need it, but it gives you peace of mind that your family will be protected,” he adds.

    If you don’t have time to search for life insurance yourself, you could enlist the help of a financial adviser.

    Turn detective and track down old pensions

    Mike Deverell, partner at wealth management firm Equilibrium Asset Management, says tracking down a lost pension can reap rewards. He says: “I’m always amazed at how many people find a stack of old paperwork and discover an old pension worth a substantial amount. It’s easy to lose track of a pension if you’ve changed jobs.”

    He suggests putting some time aside to go through your employment history and find any paperwork relating to each job. It’s easy for statements or policy documents to get lost or thrown away. The government’s free Pension Tracing Service can help you track down old schemes if you haven’t got all the details. 

    Writing a will

    It’s estimated nearly two thirds of UK adults don’t have a will in place – and thousands of unclaimed inheritances are left every year by people who didn’t draw one up.

    Yet a will can be invaluable. It sets out where your wealth goes when you die, including any property you own, as well as savings and investments, and your personal and digital possessions.

    And they can be cheap and simple to have drawn up. The cost of making a will can vary, from £80 for a simple will to £600 for a specialist will, according to consumer group Which?4. Under the Will Aid initiative every November, participating solicitors across the country will write basic wills or basic mirror wills. They will waive their usual fee and instead, invite you to make a voluntary donation to Will Aid. You can find participating solicitors at Will Aid.

    Once you have appointed a solicitor, they’ll ask you to list all the assets you want included in your will and who you would like them to go to. You’ll also be asked to choose an executor to carry out your wishes. The Law Society has more information about making a will and how to find a solicitor.

    The views expressed by any third party do not constitute advice and do not necessarily reflect the views of Barclays Bank UK PLC, Barclays Bank PLC or Barclays Services Limited (“Barclays”). Barclays does not provide any warranties or undertakings of any kind, whether express or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information provided. Barclays accepts no liability for the impact of, or any loss, however arising, from any decisions made based on views expressed by any third parties.

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