Let’s get financially lean

Let’s get financially lean

The current situation is giving everyone to take stock, assess their situation and in nearly everyone’s case, take some time to look at areas of life that usually get overlooked or aren’t a priority with the busy lives we lead. Individuals and businesses are going to come out of this extra lean, nimble and trim.

Before you look at all the individual elements you can get lean on. The first thing to do is take a look at your situation and decide whether you need a payment holiday on any of your bills due to COVID19. If you do, the first action you need to take is to get on to all these providers. It might take you a few days to get it all done, but get it done first to maximise your cashflow and avoid big problems. Then we can look at trimming and getting lean for the future. Also make sure you have looked at any employment or business support you can access – https://thomasfarquhar.com/covid19-government-support-business/

So, focusing on individuals, what are the key areas you can focus on to give yourself an overhaul;

Mortgages

The biggest ticket item for most people is their mortgage. Often overlooked, often people are sat on expensive variable rates or interest only. Now is the time to have a look at what you are paying and have a self assessment.

So, firstly are you getting a competitive interest rate, is now a good time to fix whilst bank rates are at an all time low, get on to your mortgage provider, get a new fixed deal or do a market comparison and look at switching. Whilst you are looking at this, now is the time to consider that 3 month + mortgage holiday that is on offer, if you need it, grab it, these are uncertain times and any help should be taken asap.

If you are on interest only, whilst your interest is at an all time low, make whatever over payments you can, the whole point is to get that balance down so that when interest rates go up you aren’t stung with big rises because you haven’t been chipping away at your balance. You have to take advantage of the situation, the worst thing you can do is sit back year upon year on interest only, because it will come to bite you. Make overpayments and get that balance down, anything you can afford will make a massive difference.

Key information on getting a mortgage holiday – https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/03/coronavirus-how-to-apply-for-a-three-month-mortgage-payment-holiday/

Car Insurance, Pet Insurance, Phone Insurance etc.

Most car insurance renewals are just ignored, unless there is a dramatic change, people are lazy and can’t be bothered. Now with more time, let’s have a review. Look at what you are paying for all the cars in your household and do a market comparison. Before switching it’s then worth calling your current insurer to see if they can match or even beat the price, saving you the hassle of switching. But… if not, get it switched! Save some money!

Same goes for Pet and Phone insurance, do you need it, are you overpaying, is their a better deal or even a combined deal for multiple pets or phones? Does your bank or debit or credit card provider, like Curve card, Revolut etc. offer free insurance as part of your banking? Now is the time to trim!

Curve card also offers a great system to combine all your credit and debit cards into 1 with an amazing app for tracking expenditure, so get organised too!

https://curve.com

https://www.comparethemarket.com/car-insurance/

Credit Cards

It’s time to do an overhaul of your credit cards, have a look at what you are paying, see if you can consolidate them on to 1 card, do a balance transfer to something like a Barclaycard where you can get a good few years at 0% interest. Take some time to get yourself paying the most towards the actual balances as apposed to simply keeping up with interest payments. It’s better to take the hit of a 1-4% fee to get everything on to a 0% balance transfer card for a couple of years, than sit there paying up to 20% interest a year. So whilst the fee might seem a lot when you are actually doing the transfer, in reality its probably only 1-2 month’s interest and you are going to be getting up to 3 or 4 years of no interest by doing the transfer! Get it done!

You can also have a look at other areas you could get onto a 0% credit card, maybe pay off your car finance, your shopping account like next or very, your car insurance monthly payments or even loans you might be paying. All of these could be paid off with a 0% credit card, get everything into 1 place and get your interest payments down! Some people never think of paying for a car with a credit card, but it can work out miles cheaper!

Curve card also offers a great system to combine all your credit and debit cards into 1 with an amazing app for tracking expenditure, so get organised too!

https://curve.com

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/credit-cards/balance-transfer-credit-cards/

Loans

Take a look at the loans you are paying, make sure you are on competitive rates, have a look at some comparison sites, maybe swap to a better deal and get the one you are on paid off. Also think about bringing all your loans together into 1 which could be a much better rate and bring your monthly payments down.

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/cheap-personal-loans/

TV & Broadband

First things first, get your Sky or BT sport paused, whilst there is no sport on, both these companies are allowing you to pause your subscription with no penalties, so take advantage!

Next, do a review of what you are paying and what you are getting. Now is the time to be making that phone call or making the switch. There are some fantastic deals about, new channels like Disney+ competing for your custom and offering lots more choice in the market place. Get those monthly bills down, cancel what you don’t need or don’t use and get lean.

Pausing Sky Sports during the COVID-19 outbreak | Sky Help …

https://www.sky.com › help › articles › pause-sky-sports

https://sport.bt.com/news/bt-sport-and-covid-19-S11364436646620

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/broadband/

Mobile Phones

Are you due an upgrade? Could you witch to a pay as you go sim? Could you get a better deal switching networks, or are other providers offering switching deals? Do some research, have a look what everyone in the family is costing and make sure you are on the best deals possible.

If you are due an upgrade, take advantage of the current market and some of the fantastic offers currently available!

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/mobiles/

Home Insurance

How much are you paying for home insurance? When was the last time you took a look at your policy, made sure you were getting the best deal, updated your details, specific valuables etc. Have a look at the market place, make sure you aren’t over paying and take the time to switch to the best possible deal! Some people haven’t looked at their home insurance for years!

https://sport.bt.com/news/bt-sport-and-covid-19-S11364436646620

Wills & Life Insurance, Critical Illness

Although it can be a morbid topic, now more than ever highlights the importance of having a will! No matter what your age, either for around £50-£100 or Free if you fancy doing it yourself, you should get yourself a Will sorted, to make things simple and straightforward for those you leave behind! Now is the time to get your Will updated, maybe things have changed since you last looked at it, dig it out, make sure it is correct and accurate.

Life insurance and critical illness is also something often neglected. Are you paying too much, does it cover everything you need, does it cover everyone in the household that needs cover and is it the right level. Dig it out, see what it covers and see what you are paying compared to the market. With COVID19 it gives a lot more focus on people making sure they are covered in the unfortunate eventuality they suffer a life changing illness or even pass on. Take the time and have a look.

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/health-insurance/

Council Tax

Speak to your local authority, could you take a payment break if you need one, are you in the right council tax band, is anyone in the household eligible for a discount, students, unemployed, disabled etc.

https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/council-tax-government-grants/

Utilities

Energy prices are soaring! You are sat at home using more energy than normal, now is the time to make sure you are on the best possible deal and get that smart meter installation booked whilst they are doing them for free!

Time to do a market comparison, are you on the best fixed deal! If you are on a standard variable tariff you will definitely be overpaying! Get a switch done and save some money, make sure you are paying by direct debit and make sure you are paperless to get the maximum savings!

If you need a payment holiday or are struggling, get on to your providers as quick as you can to make sure you don’t fall in to difficulties.

Savings & ISA’s

With interest rates at an all time low, now is not a great time for savers! So it might be time to consider where any savings you have might be, and where they can best work for you. IFA’s (Independent financial advisors) are often the best people to advise on this, although there is plenty of information online for those who would rather manage this themselves. If you have significant savings or an inheritance, an IFA is a must, but if it’s more regular savings or a small ISA then do some research and manage it yourself.

With interest rates so low, many people are looking at premium bonds as a useful alternative, or even stocks and shares. With markets at all time lows and lots of huge companies, massively undervalued. There are big gains likely to be made on the markets, but it can be a bit of a minefield, which is where a good IFA can help.

The key here is to make your money work for you, don’t leave it sat not earning you anything. Look at the options available, look at getting it into an ISA, even a stocks and shares ISA where you still get the tax savings but the money can be invested and grow on the markets.

One firm i work with who can help – http://beckettsfs.co.uk

Investments & Pensions

Time to look at those investments, are they working for you, are you happy with your current setup or IFA, if not now is the time to get some quotes have some calls with other IFA’s, review your options and make the switch. Make sure your money is with the people you trust and have the best relationship with. The worst thing you can do is stop moving forward.

The same goes for pensions, now is a fantastic opportunity to review your pension pot performance and make sure you are happy with how it is going, look at the market, look at the pension providers out there, how they are performing and also what they are charging! Speak to an IFA and consider whether a switch now or even just some advice could pay off massively in the future! Just because it might be 40+ years away does not mean that you shouldn’t look at it now!

IFA – beckettsfs.co.uk

Food & Meal Planning

A review on food expenditure could highlight some big savings for the average household. Are you shopping at the right supermarket, are you overpaying for the same produces, are you wasting food, could you be making your food go further with some smart meal planning. Sit down, take the time to look at your shopping list and how much you are spending and how family meals, meal prep, and leftovers can save you a pretty penny!

Some standard consumables in the household can also often be far cheaper bought in bulk online from the likes of amazon and ebay. Items like cleaning products, toilet roll, dishwasher tablets, tissues, dog treats etc. can all be miles cheaper bought in bulk rather than ad hoc from the supermarket.

Big Purchases

As much as it might seem counterproductive, now could be the ideal time to start looking at those big purchases you have been planning are are still going to need to undertake. For example a car. Now could be the best possible time to get a fantastic deal on a car, dealers are offering fantastic deals and private sellers are dropping prices. So if you have a big purchase to make be it a car, sofa, holiday (well into the future) or whatever it might be, have a look at what’s available, investment now might actually see you getting a far better deal than you would have managed to achieve or will be able to in the future!

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