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Five financial things I have learned about being 50

So this week I turn 50. It’s a shock. OMG! I only started shaving a couple of years ago. Surely it’s no more than a decade since I bought my first old banger – a navy blue Triumph 1300 a year younger than me for £100.

It cannot be more than a mere twitch in time that young lasses might give me a second glance with a cheeky smile rather than a concerned glare for my potential health.

I had all my hair and it wasn’t grey, my knees didn’t ache and I could sleep the whole night without needing the loo. Twice. And I could see the end of my own arm without needing spectacles like Dogger Bank.
On the other hand, in those carefree days of yore, I didn’t have a family or a house.
And really, if you think about it, these are the two sources of our fiscal wisdom – the family and the house.
Of course you might well argue that the two come hand-in-hand but the point remains that hard yards of our youth pay off in the end.

It’s the first time in your life you start to deal with very large numbers and take a huge gulp of air as you sign up to the THE BIG C – that’s commitment – and take your financial future in your hands.
And then when the little ones begin to appear there is a another hard swallow as you endeavour to put in place things they will need as they grow and some kind of legacy when they are grown.
Tough at the time, wasn’t it? Yet all that angst seems a bit silly now.

We still worry about our kids of course and increasingly so as they find it harder and harder to acquire a home of their own. This is the curse of their generation, as rickets and scurvy were of mine.
So what have I learned.

- Get on with it. Stop procrastinating or waiting for some moment in time before you pounce. Get in there as soon as you are able and plunge legs akimbo into commitment on bricks and mortar. The sooner you do the sooner you will reap the rewards even as prices may go down as well as up.

- Use debt sensibly. It may sound trite in this day and age but remember there is sensible, affordable debt – like a mortgage which is backed by an hopefully inflating asset, and horrible, bad and potentially catastrophic debt – see point 3.

-You don’t need credit cards.  Same as point 2 above, but it’s a big one for me. I paid mine off about 20 years ago and have never missed it. You can get charged through the ears for a service you don’t need. If you don’t really need something and you can’t afford it, don’t; and if you do, take a loan – it can be way cheaper.

- Never invest in anything you don’t understand properly. The great investment guru Warren Buffett’s rule number 1 and he knows his investing onions. Full stop.

- Budget is better than panic. There is never a convenient time for a break-down so do try and prepare with some savings when the unexpected occurs with the car/boiler/roof/job etc. Even if you can’t, try to remember that panic doesn’t help and that no-one has died. Take it in your stride.

So, that’s about it. Pass the Nurofen.

By Steve McDowell

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