Wealth Check: Personal trainer needs to put some muscle into his savings
Our experts advise 31-year-old Luke Grahame to build up his funds again after paying out a deposit on a two-bedroom house
Saturday 28 September 2013
Luke Grahame from south Wales wants to be able to provide a comfortable future for his five-month-old daughter, Freyja.
The 31-year-old is single, and has been a personal trainer for the past two years.
He has been freelancing for the past six months, running his own firm, Tough Love Cardiff Personal Training, but does a small amount of employed work as well.
He earns about £25,000-£30,000 a year, and pays monthly support to Freyja's mother with whom she lives.
At present, Luke has no money slotted away in savings as he used what he'd amassed to put down a deposit on a two-bedroom house.
He has a fixed-rate mortgage, and makes payments of around £500 per month.
While he doesn't have any money put aside in savings or investments at present, he is in the fortunate position of having only a small amount of debt.
"I have a £750 overdraft on my current account with HSBC," says Luke. "My only other debt is my student loan where I owe around £10,000."
As Luke is part-time freelance and part-time employed, he has a workplace pension into which he pays £100 a month.
He doesn't have any protection policies at the moment, but has been looking into taking out life insurance.
"I'm keen to put money aside so I can provide for Freyja's education and inheritance," says Luke. "I would also love to have enough disposable income to be able to take her on holiday each year. I also want to build my own savings pot both for my short-term needs and for my future."
Our panel of independent financial advisers (IFAs) agree that while Luke has done well to buy a property while also managing to keep his debts to a minimum, he needs to build his savings again. In addition, he should look at protection policies to ensure his daughter is catered for financially, and also consider investing in stocks and shares for her future, as well as increasing pension contributions for his own future.
Start building savings again
Patrick Connolly from Chase de Vere commends Luke on building up the deposit of £20,000 which enabled him to buy his property.
"However, this was two years ago, and he really should be focusing on savings again," he says.
Aj Somal from Aurora Financial Planning adds that everybody should have some cash savings for any short-term emergencies.
"Luke should look to build up an emergency fund of at least three months' expenditure in an accessible-savings account," he says.
At the same time, the advisers agree that by making regular cash savings, Luke can then plan on having sufficient money to take his daughter on holiday.
"For cash savings, Luke should look to utilise his cash individual savings account (Isa) allowance," says Derek Baillie from FSC Investment Services. "For the current tax year, the limit is £5,760, and all interest is tax-free."
However, Mr Baillie adds Luke should also think seriously about making mortgage overpayments.
"In today's low-interest environment, it makes more sense to reduce debt than accumulate large cash balances," he says. "If Luke reduces his mortgage by as much as possible today, this will mean his monthly outgoings in the future remain more affordable."
Consider investments when saving for children
While Luke is keen to put money aside for his daughter's future, Mr Connolly points out that if he is looking to save over the long term, it is unlikely that savings accounts will give him the best rate of return.
"This is especially true with accounts paying less than the rate of inflation," he says. "If he's looking to save for five years or more, he is likely to get a better return by investing in stocks and shares. The best approach will depend on how long he is looking to save and the level of investment risk he is prepared to take."
If Luke is happy to tie money up until his daughter turns 18, Mr Connolly recommends a junior Isa.
"He and other family members can put away up to £3,720 in the current tax year," he says.
Equally, our advisers point out that if Luke is worried about his daughter having access to the junior Isa money at 18 – and the freedom to spend it as she wishes – Luke may want to consider an investment account in his own name instead.
"This will give him control over the account," says Mr Connolly. "However, unless he is using his own Isa allowance (up to £11,520 in the current tax year) to invest, he will be liable for any tax that arises."
If Luke is happy to take risks, a sensible, low-cost option could be a tracker fund such as the HSBC FTSE All Share Index, according to Mr Connolly, as this simply follows the performance of the UK stock market.
Keep an eye on debts
While it may be useful for Luke to have an overdraft on his current account, Mr Somal says he should try not to use it, as the charges can be very steep.
At the same time, Mr Connolly adds that Luke shouldn't be overly concerned about his student loan.
"The rate he is paying will be considerably less than the rate on his overdraft, plus he will be 'chipping away' at the money he owes through his earnings," he says.
Increase pension saving
While it is positive that Luke is saving into a pension, our advisers agree he needs to do more.
"As Luke is part-freelance and part-employed, he needs to find out from his employer whether he will be eligible to join the workplace auto-enrolment scheme which his employer will have to offer," says Mr Connolly. "If not, he may be able to look at making additional pension contributions through his own company. Either way, he needs to increase the amount he is saving into a pension over time."
"Luke has made a start to his pension provision but should seek to increase his contributions over the next few years," says Mr Somal.
Prioritise protection policies
As Luke has a young daughter, Mr Somal urges him to consider his protection needs as a priority.
"Luke should look to put life cover in place, as this means his daughter will be financially protected should he die," he says. "A family-income benefit policy could be an option as this is relatively cheap. In the event of his death, this will provide Freyja with a regular income until she is no longer financially dependent."
Mr Baillie adds that Luke could also take out critical illness cover in conjunction with his life policy. "This would pay out a tax-free lump sum on diagnosis of a list of critical illnesses," he says.
Given his part-employed, part-freelance status, Mr Somal urges Luke to check if his employer will provide him with any protection benefits.
"He may then want to look at taking out additional income protection which will cover any long-term sickness or absence from both his employed and self-employed earnings," he says. "This is particularly important given he is paying monthly support for his daughter."
In addition, if Luke hasn't made a will, he needs to do this to ensure his assets are distributed according to his wishes.
Phoenix Life: Chance of a refund for overcharged policyholders has risen
Money Insider: Peer-to-peer lenders come into their own as marketplace lending evolves
Has your Premium Bond won the £1million jackpot?
There are 'dark corners' of the investment and pensions industry, says Pension Minister
Simon Read: You're guilty until proven innocent when HMRC sends in the tax credit detectives
- 1 End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
- 2 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 3 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...
£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads