Ditch New Year’s Resolutions – develop good habits instead

Ditch New Year’s Resolutions – develop good habits instead

Lose weight! Get fit! Start saving! 

It’s that time of year again – the time of New Year resolutions and goal-setting. This year, though, let’s do something different and focus on habits instead. 

Think of a goal as a result you want to achieve. And habits – the things you do regularly without even thinking about it - as the process that will get you there. Of course, goals are crucial in helping you determine the direction you want to do, but it’s far more important to spend time designing the right process. 

With habits, thinking small can be the best way to bring about big change. Behaviour Scientist at Stanford University, BJ Fogg, invented the method of creating Tiny Habits. His philosophy is that motivation is only temporary and the easiest way to make a habit stick is to tack it onto an existing habit. BJ Fogg describes a tiny habit as a behaviour you do at least once a day, that takes you less than 30 seconds and one that requires little effort.

The habit-formation technique of ‘pairing’ is one form of automation that I personally use. When I turn on my computer in the morning, I check my bank account online. It’s a manual action but it’s so ingrained in me now that it’s an automatic habit – I do it without thinking.  

My work as a financial coach is often focused on working with people who want to change their financial results, sometimes having buried their head in the sand with their finances for several years. This usually involves helping them change their behaviour with money and form new, positive habits that requires small and consistent action – small, because it’s more achievable; and consistent, because this helps habits ‘stick’.  

read more




Self-assessment and tax relief on charitable donations

Self-assessment and tax relief on charitable donations

While December is a month of splurging, January is typically associated with cutting back – whether that’s on food, alcohol, or spending.

If one aim this year is to improve your financial situation, increasing income is just as important as reducing spending. One area often overlooked is finding ways to claim everything you’re entitled to. This is especially important if you’re one of more than 10 million people completing their self-assessment tax return ahead of the 31 January deadline. 

Self-assessment 

Self-assessment is a system used by HMRC to collect tax. If you’re an employee, tax is usually collected automatically from your monthly salary and shows up on your payslip. But if you’re self employed, or have additional sources of income such as savings interest or rental income, you have to declare your income to HMRC and offset against that any expenses that attract tax relief. The more tax relievable expenses, the less tax you have to pay, which means more money in your pocket.

So when you’re completing your tax return it pays to make sure you’re claiming all the tax relief you’re entitled to. 

read more


You may be missing out on thousands of pounds of unclaimed pension tax relief

You may be missing out on thousands of pounds of unclaimed pension tax relief

Are you missing out on unclaimed money?

While celebrating the success with a client of her new job and impressive payrise, I suggested she ask some questions of her existing pension provider, and the pension provider at her new job, to explore her options.

During our discussion, I asked whether she was claiming higher rate tax relief on her pension contributions. She wasn’t aware that this was something she needed to do. She didn’t know she could claim, or that it was up to her to claim. Nor that by not claiming she could have been missing out on thousands of pounds.

read more