Tackle your financial fears for Halloween

Geoff Kirby/PA Wire

The witching hour is almost upon us for another year, and after another nine months of economic termoil it's time to face up to your financial fears. What are you most afraid of?

Having no money to retire with

It becomes more and more obvious every day that for those among us with a way off until retirement; the state pension is going to count for very little, if anything at all. If you want to enjoy your retirement in comfort, you simply cannot afford to rely on the government's donation - you have to save up yourself. But where to start?

Firstly it's worth remembering that as life expectancy increases, we will likely be working longer, That means the chance to continue to earn money, and putting of your state pension will see you rewarded with extra cash from the government. What it also means of course, is that it's never too late to start saving.

Make the most of your tax-free allowance for starters, by putting as much as you possibly can into an ISA each tax year - that way you get to keep every precious penny of interest.

Starting your pension pot is a great idea too, and not as complicated as you think. A stakeholder pension is a great idea. They are simple, readily available and flexible. You can pay money in whenever you can afford to and as often as you like, and contributions need only be as little as £20 a time.

Better still, the government will put in the extra tax you would pay to your contribution. For a basic rate taxpayer, that's £20 for every £80 you put in. Also, thanks to the marvels of compound interest, if you start now you can build up a nice little pot of money in less time than you might think.

Not being able to afford Christmas

As the cost of living continues to rise, Christmas is becoming an increasingly expensive business. Remember that you should only spend what you can afford on the festive period - try not to borrow huge amounts to have a bumper Christmas - you don't want to be starting the new year with loads of debt.

Save up your supermarket loyalty points from now and use them to pay for your big festive food shop in December. Agree with friends and family a price limit for presents, or even suggest a secret Santa so people only have to buy one gift.

Remember that it isn't all about luxury food and costly presents - it's about spending time with your family, playing games and watching rubbish films on TV - it doesn't need to cost a fortune!

Losing your job

In these uncertain times, unemployment is a big worry for many of us. There's no real way you can protect yourself from being made redundant, but you can be prepared.

Start a regular savings account and put as much as you can away each month - ideally you want to have the equivalent of six months wages to fall back on, but even three would be a good start. It sounds like a lot of money, but consider how long your savings would last if you lost your job tomorrow - start putting that money away now.
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