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Retirement matters

Staying invested and giving your money the greatest chance to grow

Perhaps the most common investment advice is to stay invested. But with markets being so volatile, the ease of sticking to that advice has been sorely tested in 2020. Even though we’ve seen global markets bounce sharply from their March lows, understandably there will still be those investing for retirement who remain worried and wonder what the best approach is for the remainder of the year and beyond.

How would you cope without an income?

Make sure you’re ready should the unexpected happen

Mental health conditions might not be as easy to pin down as physical health conditions, but insurers are increasingly recognising the need to provide cover and support to people suffering with mental ill health. And with mental health behind so many income protection claims, it’s worth reviewing what protection you have in place.

Thinking ahead

How our retirement plans may change in response to the coronavirus pandemic 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has touched virtually every aspect of our lives and is having a widespread impact across all aspects of financial life, including retirement plans.

Inflation-proofing your portfolio

One of the biggest threats to the health of your investments

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the global economy. Around the world, economic activity has dried up. Fewer consumers are buying and fewer companies are investing.

Risk of retirement longevity

Maximising investment returns over a longer life expectancy

There are lots of variables in retirement. How long people will live for, the costs of goods and services they will need, interest rates available on their accumulated savings, and so on. But once you have retired, investing is anything but straightforward.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Guaranteeing a proportion of the salaries of millions of workers 

Around the country, many employers have implemented lay-offs due to reduced revenues and the closure of their business premises due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been set up to support those employers and help them continue to pay wages of staff who would otherwise have been let go.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Lifeline for small and medium-sized enterprises struggling with cash flow

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is a loan scheme that was announced by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, during the 2020 Budget and has been set up to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are struggling with cash flow because of revenues that have been deferred or lost due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak. The loans are being offered on generous terms to support SMEs.

Working remotely

10 essential tips how to work from home effectively

Prior to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak, we might have imagined working from home as the opportunity of sleeping in late, lounging around in our pyjamas, and long leisurely lunches. However, as many of us are now having to work from home, even though this offers a great amount of flexibility, it is still a professional job – and it needs to be treated as such.

As you have likely already discovered, working where you live is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you have other people in the space. So where practical and depending on the individual for many working at home, it is still important to have set hours, a dedicated workspace, avoid home-bound distractions, and actually dressing as if we’re going to work, to help keep our mindset sharp and focused.

Top tips on how to successfully work from home

1. Plan your day

This will help you minimise your distractions and maximise your true productive times. Without supervision, even the most conscientious of us can lose focus. Setting a plan not only provides structure to the day, but it also helps you stay motivated. Start the day as you would if you worked in an office. Get up at the time you would usually wake up. Get dressed, and try to avoid online distractions once you sit down to work. You’ll soon discover the best rhythm for your day. Then set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish on a daily basis. Make a plan and stick to it. Make sure you give yourself permission to have downtime. If you have to work extra hours, give yourself some extra free time later on to compensate.

2. Get organised

Maintaining balance is one of the most difficult aspects of working at home, because the work is always right there staring you in the face. To keep you on track (and not working too much or too little), organisation will be key. Get organised by creating schedules and to-do lists. At the start of each day, spend some time organising your to-do list. Be realistic by setting goals you know you can achieve, and never promise too much. Along with your to-do items, set yourself deadlines to get each one done. For example, if you’ve got a report to write, promise yourself you’ll finish it before lunch, before moving onto the next item.

3. Have a set workspace

If you can, designate a specific place for a home office. Store all work-related files, reference materials, supplies and computer or laptop there. Try not to make it near a bed or a TV. Avoid home distractions, and never underestimate the gravitational pull of the fridge and your comfy bed. Ideally, you should ensure that your office space emulates that of a true work environment.

4. Set office hours

Make sure to create a time slot for each of the day’s activities. This helps with communicating to others when your work-time and down-time is. If you have small children, you may need to schedule your work around their naps and periods of home schooling, so that you can have a good period of time to work uninterrupted.

5. Limit the number of times emails are checked

You might find yourself constantly checking email because you’re worried about being out of the loop. However, while it’s important to stay connected, spending too much time on email might distract you from more important tasks.

6. Turn off all social media accounts

In this social media–driven world, it’s likely that you spend a significant portion of your spare time browsing Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And because the home is therefore inherently capable of putting you in a social media mindset, it’s important to remove it as a distraction while working. Unless it’s essential for your work, stop checking Facebook, turn off Twitter notifications and avoid the temptation to browse your Instagram feed while working. Again, you can do this by promising yourself some time with them once the work is done.

7. Keeping connected and in touch

If you are now having to work remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, your employer may already have provided the technology – and the chances are you’re using Zoom, Google Chat, Microsoft Teams and so on. However, if this is not the case and you’re looking for tech to enable you to keep in contact with clients or customers, employees or suppliers, the main tools are Microsoft’s Skype, Google’s Duo and Apple’s FaceTime, the last of which only works on Apple devices. Most phone-based messaging apps, including Signal, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, also offer video chat, which can be easier to use.

8. Take micro-breaks

When making your schedule, you might want to consider working in smaller chunks of time, and allowing yourself time to get up from the computer to stretch. This will really help you both physically and mentally. When you take micro-breaks, you’ll likely to be more productive. Get some fresh air if you can. Open your windows to let in as much natural daylight and fresh air as possible.

9. Don’t get distracted

One significant difference between home working and the traditional work environment is the presence of family members. While they may not be there all the time, you’re bound to come into contact with them occasionally while working. Because of this, it’s vital that you set boundaries. Make sure that you are focused on the best and proper use of your time during your work hours. Have the radio or some music on in the background as you might do at work.

10. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Working at home can lend itself to a sedentary lifestyle, not to mention the close proximity of the kitchen and refrigerator, making weight gain a problem. Make sure to schedule time for exercise, keep healthy nutritional snacks nearby to maintain your concentration levels, and remember to keep yourself hydrated at all times.

How can we help?

For more information, please contact S4 Financial on 01276 34932 or email hello@s4financial.co.uk – we look forward to hearing from you.

Mental health and well-being

Recognising times when we feel down or stressed

Mental health and well-being play a big part in how happy we are in our everyday lives, especially during this difficult time. It includes factors such as an individual’s ability to develop their potential, work productively and creatively, and build strong and positive relationships with others.

It also involves areas of life such as feelings of satisfaction, optimism, self-esteem, having some control over one’s life, having a purpose in life, and a sense of belonging and support. During this coronavirus outbreak, resulting in many of us staying at home or in self-isolation, it’s important to consider how to connect with others during these difficult times.

Maintain relationships

Essential for our mental well-being is maintaining relationships with people we trust. Think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family via the telephone, video calls or social media instead of meeting in person – whether it’s people you normally see often or connecting with old friends.

Help those around you

Think about how you could help those around you – it could make a big difference to them and can make you feel better too. Could you message a friend or family member nearby? Are there community groups that you could join to support others locally? Remember, it’s important to do this in line with guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) to keep yourself and everyone safe. And try to be accepting of other people’s concerns, worries or behaviours.

Connect with support groups

It is quite common to feel worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember that this is a difficult time for everyone, and sharing how you are feeling and the things you are doing to cope with family and friends can help them too. If you don’t feel able to do that, there are people you can speak to via NHS recommended helplines, or you could find support groups online to connect with.

Physical health impact

Your physical health has a big impact on how you are feeling emotionally and mentally. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water, and exercise inside where possible and outside once a day for up to one hour, by following the Government’s guidelines.

Keeping active at home

If you are able to go outside, consider walking or gardening (keeping the recommended two metres from others as outlined in the social distancing guidance). If you are staying at home, you can find free, easy ten-minute workouts from Public Health England or other exercise routines on YouTube and fitness apps. Sport England also has good tips for keeping active at home.

Sleep hygiene practices

Feeling anxious or worried can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how you feel mentally and physically, so it’s important to get enough. Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment.

Things you can control

Many people find the news about coronavirus (COVID-19) concerning. However, some people may experience such intense anxiety that it becomes a problem. Try to focus on the things you can control, including where you get information from and actions to make yourself feel better prepared. It is okay to acknowledge some things that are outside of your control right now, but constant repetitive thoughts about the situation which lead you to feel anxious or overwhelmed are not helpful.

Reduce media time

The continuous output of 24-hour news and constant social media updates can make you more worried. If it is affecting you, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to media coverage of the outbreak. It may help to only check the news at set times or limiting to a couple of checks a day.

Positive new routines

Life is changing for us all for a while. Whether you are staying at home or social distancing, you are likely to see some disruption to your normal routine. Think about how you can adapt and create positive new routines – try to engage in useful activities or meaningful activities such as reading. You might find it helpful to write a plan for your day or your week.

Boost your mood

When you are anxious, lonely or low, you may do things that you usually enjoy less often, or not at all. Focusing on your favourite hobby, learning something new or simply taking time to relax indoors should give you some relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost your mood.

Try something new

If you can’t do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, try to think about how you could adapt them, or try something new. There are lots of free tutorials and courses online, and people are coming up with innovative online solutions like online quizzes and streamed live music concerts.

Control and purpose

Setting goals and achieving them gives a sense of control and purpose – think about things you want or need to do that you can still do at home. It could be watching a film, reading a book or learning something online. Play games, do crossword puzzles, sudokus, jigsaws or drawing and painting. Find something that works for you.

Relax and focus

Taking time to relax and focusing on the present can help with difficult emotions and worries about the future, and can also improve well-being. Relaxation techniques such as meditation can help some people to deal with feelings of anxiety.

Get natural sunlight

If you can, once a day, get outside. Spending time in green spaces can benefit both your mental and physical well-being. If you can’t get outside, you can try to still get these positive effects by spending time with the windows open to let in fresh air and get some natural sunlight, or get out into the garden if you can. Remember that social distancing guidelines enable you to go outside to exercise once a day as long as you keep two metres apart from others who are not members of your household group.

How can we help?

For more information, please contact S4 Financial on 01276 34932 or email hello@s4financial.co.uk – we look forward to hearing from you.

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