Life happens. Most of the time that’s a good thing, but life also throws us the odd curveball and gives us a significant decision to make when we feel least ready for it.

Lifestyle financial planning enables us to look at a number of the likely scenarios that may affect your future so that we can plan for them accordingly. Still, none of us knows for sure what the future holds and it’s generally the things we hadn’t known were coming that cause us the most difficulty.

Challenging moments are often linked to significant life transitions that impact our families, careers and finances, such as starting a new family, moving home or entering retirement. So how do we make ‘good’ decisions when so much depends on those decisions being the right ones? Ultimately, we need to balance out all the options and likely results and avoid making snap decisions that could backfire on us in the long run. That’s easier said than done of course, which is why we are offering the following helpful and decision-making strategies to keep you focused and, hopefully, lead you to the best possible outcome.


Whether it’s through fear of honesty, or simply wanting to protect them, we often keep the most difficult decisions hidden from our spouses for as long as possible. This really isn’t the best way and, as much as it might worry them, if a decision is going to impact them too then it’s best to involve them from the outset before you have gone down a certain path.

The more complicated the decision, the more serious it probably is, but keeping problems from your spouse will inherently make an already challenging situation even more difficult. However hard the decision – particularly if it’s relating to your finances, or savings and investments, you should really both be on the same page with it.


The one person you can never hide from is yourself. You might be able to for a while, but eventually, you will have to look at yourself in the mirror. When you do, will you feel ok with what you see? If you are about to make a big decision and are unsure about whether it is the right one, consider how making it is going to make you feel now, tomorrow and in the years to come. Then consider how you would feel if you were to make a different decision. Even if you ultimately make a mistake, following your core values and still being able to look at yourself in the mirror will always be better in the long run. Standing by your values might be the harder option in the moment, but the face in the mirror will be staring back at you for the rest of your life.


Why do you even have to make a decision? It can be easy to get so caught up in a moment with things that we ‘have’ to do and decisions we ‘have’ to make, that we forget why we are doing it all in the first place.

If you’re trying to decide if you can afford a bigger house, for example, stop to think about WHY you are moving in the first place.

Because I need more space.

  1. But WHY do you need more space?

Because I don’t have enough room for a home gym.

Why do you need a home gym?

Because my job is stressful, I don’t have a gym nearby and I need to unwind.  

When you take away the layers, it turns out that your house dilemma isn’t about your house at all, but it’s about your job. Is a home gym really going to make that less stressful each day, or do you really need to be making a tough decision about your job?…


Big decisions rarely just impact one person, so take a moment to consider anyone else who will be affected. We’ve already mentioned your spouse, but now extend this to your children, parents, friends and co-workers. The best decision for you might not be the best decision for them and again, this is something that you are going to have to live with. Also bear in mind though that people are naturally drawn to remaining in their comfort zone. If you’ve been given an opportunity to work and live abroad for example, but your kids don’t want to go, it’s not necessarily because it will be the ‘bad’ choice for them, but simply because they are scared of change. Consider the bigger picture. Is it a temporary contract that will disrupt them and not really achieve anything better in the long run, or will it bring your family more financial freedom and open them up to new cultures and experiences?


Are past experiences influencing your decision-making? If so, is this for the better? Or is it making things worse?

It’s wise to listen to your gut feelings, but you also need to be aware that these have been instilled in you over many years and as a result of many experiences – both good and bad. You might have tried something once that had terrible consequences, but that doesn’t mean it will happen that way again. On the other hand, just because something worked in your favour in the past, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it always will.

Other people’s attitudes can affect your decision-making too. You would have grown up watching your parents handle money in a certain way and feel that this is the ‘right’ way to do things. If your parents were unfulfilled in their jobs but remained in them to ensure they could provide for you, you may be tempted to do the same. We are all different though, and there are different ways of doing things. While this may have worked for your parents, you might be better off taking a pay cut for a new job that you love and having a better relationship with your children as a result of being less stressed.


As lifestyle financial planners we speak with people on a daily basis who are facing tough decisions. We won’t necessarily have all the answers – after all, it’s your life and no one knows you better than you yourself. What we can do though, is focus your decision-making and help you consider all the options in a professional and unbiased manner. We can also look at how certain decisions might affect you with the help financial forecasting software that can map out certain paths based on decisions – particularly financial – that you make.

Everyone needs help at times, and you should never feel too proud or too embarrassed to contact a financial planner, an attorney, a healthcare provider or any other expert so that you can get the best possible advice.

Please get in touch any time.

Consider it an investment, not an expense

Whatever your age now, the reality is that you are growing older every day. Putting aside money into a pension plan now is therefore not something you should view as an expense, but an investment for your future, and the payments made by your employer each month are invested so that they have a chance to grow over time.

Make sure you’re taking advantage of employer contributions

If you have a workplace pension plan it’s particularly easy to get into the habit of putting money aside, as it can come out of your salary before your regular pay. This gets you used to budgeting for it, as you never even see it’s there, so psychologically, you can feel less like it’s something extra that you are paying for. Even better, if that your employer will contribute to your pension too. In most cases this is at least 3% of your salary, and payments can increase with the more you save, as your employer may increase their contributions in line with this. You might have to wait a while to get it, but this is essentially free money!

Get help from the taxman too!

Pension plans all work differently, but if you have a workplace plan, you may be able to get pension tax relief, meaning that when you save into your pension, you get tax relief based on the income tax you pay.

If you pay basic rate income tax, for example, you would get 20% tax relief, meaning that it would actually only cost you £80 to save £100 into your pension. The savings become even greater if you pay higher rates of income tax.

Flexibility to suit your needs

Pension plans are all different and can offer freedom and flexibility depending on your circumstances. When you need to start thinking about accessing your savings, there are far more options than there used to be. A flexible pension may allow you to access your money from the age of 55, but this may of course change in the future. You may decide to leave your savings to accumulate, or access some of them while continuing to work. Whatever your situation though, we are always here to advise you on how to draw the money you have saved in the most beneficial and tax-efficient way possible.

This article does not constitute financial advice and should not be construed as such.