07 Oct 2022

Making Cents: ‘I just want beans on toast’

Making Cents: ‘I just want beans on toast’

Being able to put a number logically and factually alongside everything you'd like to achieve from a financial perspective and compare them against your present annual earnings, confirms whether you n

Over the past few months, I’ve had a number of people reach out to me, who share a couple of similarities which are (a) they all have global roles which require a lot of travel and (b) they don’t necessarily want to return to that way of working anymore.

Their ask of me, was to look at their finances in terms of, what if I decide not to travel anymore and what if I decide to take on a different lower paying role?

And because of Covid, they’ve had a taste of what working from home is like, and they like it.

I asked a client of mine recently, who travels a lot for work, what he felt the downsides to his travel were?

And he said, you do get to see some amazing sights and you do get to visit places you wouldn’t ordinarily see, but he also said, it’s not like you’re visiting the beach every day.

Or, in the words of one Basil Fawlty, when you look out the window of whatever office you are in, there aren’t herds of wildebeests sweeping majestically across a plain. The outside could be very uninspiring, and you could be stuck in a windowless room, so you literally could be anywhere in the world, and you’re on your own.

Anyway, one of those people who reached out to me, was at an inflection point in her life (just turned 50) and career where she’s worn the 'been there, done that' travel T-shirt, but she’s now just done with it.

She said the thoughts of getting back on a plane and all that travel makes her blood run cold. She also said, 'you know sometimes, Liam, all you want is beans on toast'. Those home comforts that can’t be found in a hotel room or in an airport waiting lounge.

She’s reached that stage in her career where she saw no end in sight and has known for some time that she wanted out. But could she afford to make that decision, that was her big question.

And to put that question another way, and it’s one that applies to everyone regardless of whether you work from home, travel, or are a hybrid of both, is, how much do I need?

Some people ask this question to gain a reference point, which could mean the opposite to dialling back the pace they work at. How much do they need to increase the amount they earn, to achieve all of their financial goals?

And that will vary between everyone and will depend on what stage they are in their lives, what existing commitments they have, what their financial and non-financial goals are and so on.

But the common denominator is knowing what your overall number is, and whether it’s enough or not.

From my experience, people want to know how much do I need to retire, how much do I need to pay off my mortgage early, how much do I need to put my kids through college, how much do I need to cover my monthly living expenses, how much do I need to save, how much do I need to protect myself and my family if I was to die or suffer an illness, how much do I need to hold in an emergency fund?

Lots of, how much do I need questions, which is why you need to be put a number alongside each category that’s most important to you, and then cumulatively add them together to see where you’re at.

And for that exact reason, I’ve spent some time over the past couple of months, putting together a calculator of sorts for my clients, where I and they, can bring all elements of their finances together in one place, where we can put a number beside each category at the click of a button.

Being able to put a number logically and factually alongside everything you'd like to achieve from a financial perspective and compare them against your present annual earnings, confirms whether you need to dial things up, or back, or set different timelines for yourself, or put things in order of priority for you.

And I’ve been carrying out these types of exercises for clients in recent months and they’ve found tremendous value in doing it.

We can run many different scenarios where they can instantly see how much they need, why they need that amount, and what amounts are apportioned to every area.

It’s showing that link and inter-connectivity between all aspects of their finances, which I think is the big value add.

One of my clients, who is 53, asked to set a target where she’d like to retire, pay off her mortgage, have enough in savings based on her income and age, and have no debt at age 62.

And we were able to show her, she could achieve all of these things, whilst allowing her to earn €13,895 less each year.

I ran another scenario for another client and everything he wanted to achieve in the time period he set himself, showed he actually needed to increase his earnings by €19,400.

Another client was single and had no mortgage or kids, she had lots of savings but corporate life was taking its toll on her. She wanted to hit the reset button but couldn’t see a way out that made sense to her.

That was until we carried out this exercise and when we did, it showed she needed to stay on the treadmill for two more years. Those two years made a difference in terms of shares that would become available to her to use as income, and those extra two years also made a big difference to what her defined benefit pension would pay her in the future.

It was probably going to be a long two years for her, but at least she now knew there was an end in sight.

So, if you are at that inflection point in your life or career, how much do I need, is a question you need answered. And maybe, you don’t need to be at any turning point in your career, perhaps you shouldn’t need any trigger event to know how much you need, and what that will achieve for you.

And it begins by mapping out a plan and crunching the numbers and maybe you’ll discover that you’ve put in the heavy lifting already, and now you have options that you can consider, safe in the knowledge that a change in career or income won’t derail them.

The core objective of this exercise is primarily to give you peace of mind that allows you make some life changing decisions with confidence, knowing that you’re not doing anything stupid when it comes to your finances.

So, this is something I think you should be doing and I would encourage you to seek out someone who can put the numbers together for you, and if you can’t find them, perhaps what I’ve outlined will at least be a good starting point for yourself.

Liam Croke is MD of Harmonics Financial Ltd, based in Plassey. He can be contacted at or

To continue reading this article,
please subscribe and support local journalism!

Subscribing will allow you access to all of our premium content and archived articles.


To continue reading this article for FREE,
please kindly register and/or log in.

Registration is absolutely 100% FREE and will help us personalise your experience on our sites. You can also sign up to our carefully curated newsletter(s) to keep up to date with your latest local news!

Register / Login

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.