Exclusive – Learner Drivers to be allowed to drive alone without professional lessons or passing Driving Test!

Imagine that!  Would our roads be safer?  Would accidents increase or reduce?  Would you stay off the roads if this became law?

Well thankfully that’s just a fairy-tale headline.  However, when you think of how people learn about finances that headline has relevance.  Do our “financial learners” take professional advice the same way as learner drivers?  Do they plan and prepare properly for the years ahead?  Do they start preparing from an early age for the biggest purchase they are likely to make in their life, buying their own home?

In reality most people don’t! Instead they rely on their friends and families, which is understandable, and that’s wonderful provided they are great at managing their finances. But the risk is that we could end up following their habits which may not always be best and could in the long term do more damage than good.

Need a financial MOT?

Many banks offer customers a free financial health check, where you can learn how best to save money on your outgoings, make the most of your savings and prepare for future purchases.  Most of all, it gives you peace of mind that you are financially fit, or at least have a plan to become so!

We find that many people don’t budget as well as they could and still pay too much for expensive credit – all of which could have longer term impacts on their ability to become a homeowner. I continuously hear stories around potential home owners not fully understanding how to get on to the housing market and in particular how the likes of “Steps to Buy” can assist them.  By talking to a finance professional, you can find out how to work with what you’ve got to achieve your goal, be that home ownership or something else in the future.

Thankfully throughout 2019 we have seen more customers than ever complete financial health checks. This might be restructuring finances, saving money which could be used to save for a deposit for a first house purchase….making that dream come true.

So like learning to drive, building your financial experience and understanding takes time, so please start on the process as early as you can.  Take the chance to speak to your bank around the basics of budgeting and planning for your future – basically pass your test.  Then as you progress through your “R” plates make sure you regularly check in to ensure you are on track to achieve your goals.  Ultimately if you take annual health checks you are in effect moving on to becoming an “Advanced Driver”, at least in financial terms. And just like driving hopefully as you become more experienced then you can pass on your knowledge to your friends and family…so hopefully the habits you pass on are worth learning.

Terry Robb is Head of Personal Banking at Ulster Bank and has over 25 years’ experience in helping people achieve their financial goals.

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