Act now! Review and improve your finances
It makes sense to regularly review your finances – to ensure you are not overpaying for products and services (for example utilities and insurances and so on) or spending on things you no longer need or use.
Now – with the current coronavirus crisis affecting most peoples’ jobs and income – may be a better time than ever to review your finances.
What follows are some ideas to get you started – so you can ensure that your funds are being spent wisely.
Firstly, draw up a detailed budget of your income and all your household expenses, concentrating on the essentials for daily living and seriously considering foregoing any non-necessities.
What follows next is a thorough heading by heading review of all your essential expenses, with an eye on reviewing and potentially cutting those costs wherever possible.
- spend some time checking if your banking current account continues to serve you well or whether it is worth switching. Compare rates offered on savings accounts (especially if you have been using the same one for a number of years already), and check whether you have unused or rarely used credit cards that need to be cancelled;
- carefully look at the direct debits and other regular payments going out of your bank account. Are you paying for things you don’t need? For example, a subscription to periodical magazines that you are no longer interested in. Or, maybe you are paying for mobile ‘phone insurance when your household insurance already covers it?
- if you have a gym membership, check that your direct debit payments have been frozen by the club in line with what the bigger gyms are doing.
- review your utility bills. The energy regulator Ofgem, has a useful step by step guide to comparing the deals available, and if necessary, switching suppliers or tariffs, or both;
- review your broadband and ‘phone services – websites such as Money Saving Expert and Uswitch offer comparison tools where you can get personalised quotes to see if you could save money by switching suppliers;
- if you really want to throw yourself in to saving money on your household bills, look for free resources online, such as SaveWaterSaveMoney website that offers tips and free water saving devices;
- if you are working from home and no longer have a daily commute, you may be able to get a refund on the unused part of any season ticket;
- don’t assume that you have to take boiler cover from your gas and electricity provider – you may find it cheaper to shop around for your own independently-sourced cover;
- insurance you will still need – but now you have time carefully to review your policy, ensure that it delivers precisely the cover you need, and represents good value for money;
- check you are not one of up to 400,000 households in England and Scotland who's overpaying for your council tax using Money Saving Expert’s free tool;
- if your supermarket has own-brand goods, consider switching to these cheaper lines – or even think about switching to a cheaper supermarket;
- once you have stocked up on food for a week, try not to buy more, but to use what you have – and radically cut down on waste;
- an increasing volume of purchases are likely to be made online – so, sign up with websites such as TopCashback or Quidco to receive cash back on your purchases via the Internet and some instore purchases;
Savings and pensions
- money may be tight, but that is no reason to ease up on pensions and savings unless it becomes absolutely necessary – as far as any workplace pension scheme is concerned, remember that the pot is being bolstered by contributions from your employer and the government, too.
During these potentially straitened times, it makes sense to conduct a careful and thoroughgoing review of your personal finances.
This data is correct as at the time of writing.