'Wealth Check: 'I want more time to cook and play guitar'

Helen Black, 35, is a married sales administrator from Reading. She and her husband, an engineering salesman, are both settled in jobs they enjoy and are paying off their mortgage. Her aim is to be financially secure so she can dedicate her spare time to hobbies. She loves gardening, cooking and Surrealist painting and plays bass guitar in a local band.

"All I really want out of life is to be comfortable, happy, secure and creative," she says. "I'd like some advice about how best to build up and invest my savings to make sure we'll always be OK."

Case notes

Income: £29,500.
Savings: £20,000 in savings, current and ISA accounts
Monthly outgoings: £1,597
Debts: None

Our expert advisers this week are AJ Somal from Uniec Financial Solutions, Duncan Carter from Clearwater Financial Planning and Robin Keyte from Towers of Taunton.


Money doesn't buy happiness but, in Helen's situation, it will certainly help. She wants to enjoy her spare time without worrying about her finances, and this means building up savings to act as a fall-back.

A good start has already been made, but the experts think Helen is in a great position to save even more because she lives well within her means.

Carter says: "Taking action now and establishing a long-term plan is key to Helen meeting her immediate and longer term objectives."

Keyte estimates the couple could have a surplus income of £10,000 per year providing they each bring in a net income of at least £22,200. He recommends cash ISAs at Chesham Building Society or Bradford & Bingley, which are currently offering good interest rates.

Helen might also want to consider transferring any current ISA savings to Birmingham Midshires, which is offering generous transfer-in deals in a bid to attract new investors.

"Be a rate tart," says Keyte. "Do not be afraid to swap providers to chase the best rates of interest."


Helen strives for security, so the sooner she can own her house outright the better. She currently has a £120,000 mortgage on a £250,000 house with Abbey National and Keyte recommends making overpayments on this now while she is still at her earning prime.

He says: "Most mortgage deals these days will allow you to overpay up to 10 per cent of the outstanding capital each year. The return you would derive from these overpayments is equivalent to the mortgage interest that would have been charged, which is almost certainly higher than the interest you can presently earn on cash ISAs."


Helen is not expecting yachts and cruises on retirement, but would like to carry on living as she does now after the age of 65.

Carter says: "Of key importance is that she does not delay making the commitment as the costs start to increase sharply the closer one gets to retirement. Equally a regular review process should be established to ensure she remains on track to achieve these quite demanding goals."

She should contact The Pension Service for an estimate of what her state pension will be, but Keyte predicts it could be around £400 per month.

To make this up to the required £1,200 per month, she would need an overall pension fund of £180,000. Helen currently pays £50 per month into her pension, but Keyte recommends increasing overall contributions to five per cent of her salary, while Somal recommends 10 per cent.

He says: "If the company is matching her contributions, then she should increase her payments and take advantage of the employer contributions."


Helen should also consider how she will meet her costs if she ever has to take long-term sick leave. Somal says: "Helen and her husband should seriously consider taking out income protection cover – also known as Permanent Health Insurance – to protect their incomes."

He says Helen needs to find out how long her company will pay her to be off sick, and then arrange for an insurance package to kick in after that period. She can protect about 60 per cent of her gross income in this way.

Carter adds: "Without such protection there would be a significant fall in income and thus standard of living. The cost of index-linked protection would be in the region of £35 to £40 per month each."

For a free financial check-up, write to Wealth Check, The Independent, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF; or email wealthcheck@independent.co.uk.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Marketing Executive - B2B - OTE £25,000

    £17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity to join this new...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £21000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Control Manager

    £36000 - £44000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Encouraging more businesses to ...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower