We can all get complacent over our health, whether we consider ourselves to be in good shape or otherwise. Having worked as a personal trainer, completed numerous triathlons, regularly open water swim and cycle, not to mention scurrying around after a 3-year-old toddler! – I consider myself to be in pretty good shape. But, every now and then, we’re brutally reminded that we are not invincible!
A few weeks ago, I grazed my left elbow, which alone is hardly blog worthy. But, a week and a half later it had become swollen, painful and I began to feel very unwell. After visiting the GP, I quickly found myself being taken to hospital. My arm was potentially septic and by the time I arrived at hospital I could no longer move my elbow. A few tests and 24 hours later, intravenous antibiotics had kerbed an aggressive infection and everything was back under control.
Why am I publishing this?
Not for sympathy! I lived to tell the tale, but it certainly got me thinking. It was quite frightening and on the way to A&E my thoughts turned to what I hadn’t done yet or said to people I love; particularly Cathy, my wife and Maxwell, my young son. Having awful uncertainty thrust into your life really puts things into perspective.
Now the dust has settled, I can look back at the ordeal with some perspective. It goes without saying that I’m eternally grateful to the amazing people in the NHS who took care of me, but what if it turned out to be life threatening or life changing?
What’s really important…
In my circumstances, and likely yours, it is undoubtedly my family and their security. Being in hospital was a stark reminder of one of the reasons I work in financial planning; I believe completely and utterly in the benefits that it brings.
Building a financial plan starts by helping people understand what’s important to them. Then, it’s a case of creating a plan to spend their money on achieving those goals. Of course, I’m not saying spend everything you have and completely live in the moment, but, you have to strike a balance.
Realising and understanding exactly what you want from life means you are able to plan towards it. Your financial decisions need to be geared towards embracing what really matters to you. Think about the bigger picture, in the short and long-term.
Protecting loved ones
Nobody is immortal, and life-changing events can come from anywhere at any time. There are several ways to ensure your family are secure should something happen, including:
- Building an emergency fund. It’s recommended you have between three and six months expenditure in a readily available cash account. Having a rainy-day fund can cover costs if you’re suddenly unable to work due to illness or injury.
- Get appropriate insurance. There are two basic types of protection policies; term assurance and income protection. Term assurance will usually pay a lump sum if you die or are critically unwell, depending on the terms of the policy. Income protection pays a regular income if you’re sick and unable to work for an extended period of time. If you’ve already got insurance in place, make sure it’s still appropriate to your evolving needs.
- Write a will. Unbelievably, research by Unbiased found that almost 60% of the UK population still don’t have a will. Having a valid and up-to-date will is the only way of ensuring your estate is passed to the people that matter should the worst happen. It also reduces the risk of having to pay Inheritance Tax.
Life isn’t a rehearsal
Enjoy and embrace what’s important to you now. By defining your ambitions, you can financially plan to achieve them as soon as possible. Without wanting to sound too dramatic, tomorrow is not a given!
Whether you want to travel the world or pay for your children to go to the best possible school, let’s build a map and make it happen. Sitting in an ambulance thinking about all the things you’ve not yet done isn’t particularly pleasant, believe me!
The insurance products mentioned in this article are based on an assessment of the health of the applicant and it is unlikely that cover will be available for previous or existing medical conditions. You should always refer to the terms and conditions of a policy or seek advice in order to understand what the policy does and does not cover before making an application.