Life Stages: A Financial Checklist

Welcome to life. Growing up, work, relationships – life’s got it all. Finances too. Keep on top of things with this financial checklist for every important stage of your life, so you can save and plan sensibly to enjoy life and the things you want to do.

Start by identifying your short and long-term goals and how these might affect your financial planning. These would include:

  • Pay off any existing debt, if you have it.
  • Work out your life goals.
  • Plan for your later life.
  • Start saving – for yourself, but also for your children if you plan to have them.
  • Insurance products – health.

Life stage checklist…

Still in school

When aged under 18, your responsibilities will probably be somewhat limited. However, a few good things to focus on would be:

  • Opening a bank account.
  • Starting to save – when you get money at Christmas, for example.
  • Establishing good saving habits.

At university or college

University life is fun and challenging – not to mention expensive. Start planning for your finances at this life stage:

  • Work out how much it’ll cost you to go and study – current university tuition fees for most people are capped at £9,000 a year, although it will be cheaper (or free) for some.
  • You might be able to get help paying for your university fees – find out more here.

When at university itself, think about the following:

  • Draw up a weekly budget to track your spending.
  • Remember your outgoings will cover much more than just going out – remember bills, internet, toiletries, insurance etc.
  • Work out how to pay for travel costs – there’s the 16-25 Railcard, the 18+ Oyster card and the Young Persons Coachcard.
  • Consider taking up a part-time job to give you some extra cash for student life.
  • Where possible, save for when you enter the workforce.

Getting that first career job

Things can be difficult when entering the professional job market for the first time. It’s competitive, not always so well-paid and, if you live in a major city like London, hard on the purse strings.

  • Keep your university budgeting going – make sure you keep tracking your spending.
  • Pay down debt, where possible.
  • Start saving for home ownership – take a look at the government’s Help to Buy ISA.

Developing in your career

  • Start saving for retirement – consider a private pension alongside your company pension (most employers in the UK are required to offer one).
  • Try to raise your salary – negotiate effectively when you change jobs, so you can support yourself and only use payday loans in an emergency.

Getting a mortgage

If you manage to secure a mortgage, well done. It’s not easy. Make sure you keep the process as smooth as possible by knowing about these extra costs:

  • Mortgage application and arrangement feeds.
  • Valuation and survey feeds.
  • Stamp duty.
  • Legal fees.

Getting married

Alongside the happy nuptial joy, make sure you make some solid plans:

  • Create or update a will, naming your spouse.
  • Think about taking out life insurance.
  • Consider merging your finances.
  • Set financial goals.

Having children

When welcoming children into the world, it pays to think about money.

  • Start saving for their education – even a small amount each month would be worthwhile.
  • Get them a ‘young person’s’ bank account – most of the main high street banks offer a current account for young people.
  • Instil effective financial habits in your children – use your own experiences of financial success and failure.

Retirement and later life

For many, retirement is a wonderful time – freed from the pressures of work, you have more time to spend with family and doing the things you love.

  • Set your budget – work out how much you’ll have to play with.
  • Review your assets and investments – could you sell any or reinvest them elsewhere?
  • Consider downsizing.

Life is full of ups and downs and, while you really do never know what’s around the corner, it can pay to keep to some simple financial targets as you work through it. Lay down some financial milestones and take simple, sensible precautions with your money. Do you have any tips for financial life planning? Let us know.

Generic advice is not a service regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority thus does not require authorisation.