Credit cards – friend or foe?

Credit cards are a fact of modern life but are they friend or foe? Should you have one, or are they to be avoided?

When used sensibly and responsibly they can be a useful tool with benefits but too often they are used to support a lifestyle, the balance is not repaid in good time, and they become a very expensive burden.

This article is a quick look at both the pros and cons of this type of consumer debt.

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Higher education costs – the facts and how to plan

The days of most expats having their children’s school fees paid for them are gone and even if you have an education allowance as part of your salary package it will stop once they finish secondary school. If they then want to go on to tertiary education, whether that is university, college, or vocational study someone has to pay and the burden is likely to fall on to parents.

Have you thought about how much may be required, or how to fund the additional study that you children may want, or indeed may need, in order to do what they want in life and be successful?

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Teenagers & Money – 10 useful tips

There is no doubt that many youngsters leaving school this summer are lacking in practical knowledge about their finances. It is important to have some financial knowledge to safely negotiate the adult world so here are some points that every young person should know about money.

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Have you forgotten or lost a UK pension?

This may sound like a silly question but research from a major British insurance company has shown that up there are up to 2.5 million forgotten UK pension plans.  Furthermore, the UK government estimates that the size of these forgotten and unclaimed funds could exceed £400 million.

Among those with a forgotten pension, the majority believe they have misplaced one pot (77%), although 17% think they have forgotten about two and 6% have forgotten three or more.  At the same time, almost three in five (59%) UK adults are worried about not having enough money to last them in retirement. If this is you, there are steps you can take.

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Are your funds in the dog house?

It is estimated that in the UK alone some £8 billion is languishing in under-performing investment funds. Add all the money in offshore funds and other jurisdictions and the number is worryingly large.

These poorly performing funds, known as dogs, can be found in all sectors but action can be taken. If your money is stuck in the dog house you can do something about it.

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Need to know: Your financial priorities

Many of us muddle through our financial lives, not focusing on what matters the most, so this article is designed to help you sort out your financial priorities.

You have probably thought that there are some issues you need to address but it is common to be stuck in limbo, not quite sure what to tackle first, or a to have a vague to-do list but are unsure where to start.

I am often asked what are the most important topics to focus on so this is a guide to what you may need to look at if you haven’t reviewed your personal finances before, or haven’t done so for some time. What should you do now and what is most important?

All too frequently I see people who have been sold long-term savings plans without having been given the right advice to address more immediate issues. The most important consideration is to focus on what could go wrong tomorrow and then to take steps to protect you and your family. This doesn’t have to be expensive but this is what proper, ethical, financial planning is all about.

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When your investments are more than just money

For a significant number of investors, investing in shares and funds can feel like a dance with the devil as they have to compromise beliefs to achieve a return. With the growing awareness of the environmental impact of modern life, interest in ethical and environmental funds is increasing, and you can get a return on your investment without troubling your conscience.

Many people will avoid buying from certain companies, or will make ethical consumer choices, so it is only logical to extend this to how you invest your money.

These days, the funds that we previously described as ethical or ecological, all come under the umbrella term of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) and there are myriad choices, so if you would like to invest without compromising your personal beliefs this could be of interest to you.

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