How to manage finances in new Covid era

Pay yourself first, beware of the credit card and resist the lure of impulse purchases, advises, JOHN O’DRISCOLL, Managing Director of Blueprint Financial Planning
How to manage finances in new Covid era

With the unemployment rate above 22% and many others still struggling to work from home, people’s budgets are likely to be different, for better or worse.

THERE’S no doubt about it, our spending habits are changing, rapidly.

With the unemployment rate above 22% and many others still struggling to work from home, people’s budgets are likely to be different, for better or worse.

On the one hand, we have the over-cautious, and they tend to stop spending, versus the under-cautious, who frantically buy anything that takes their eye online, the spenders and savers.

You may feel like the uncertainty makes you want to tighten the purse strings or you may have a little extra cash in your pocket and want to spend. Either way, ‘now’ is always a good time to check the health of your finances. While uncertainty still surrounded Covid-19, the one thing you can always take control of is your personal finances.

The pandemic has affected investment markets, which in turn may have a knock-on effect on most people in some shape or form.

However, markets rebound and time helps eradicate dips in the markets, as the saying goes it’s about “time in the markets, not timing the markets’.

It’s equally important to stay positive and plan forward. While people undoubtedly have a lot going on, it’s a good right time to think about pensions, illness protection, wealth management, financial planning and protection analysis, getting to the heart of planning and thinking for the future where our clients can comfortably deal with life’s inevitable “rainy days”. Equally, a prospect that allows them to enjoy the things that matter to them in their lives.”

John O'Driscoll, managing director of Blueprint Financial Planning & Financial Fitness.
John O'Driscoll, managing director of Blueprint Financial Planning & Financial Fitness.

As a financial adviser, I deal with the financial worries and concerns people have at present which undoubtedly are adding to an already very stressful situation.

I have created a list of tips that will help people navigate the choppy financial waters we are all coping with at present.

Create your household budget — this is the foundation of any good financial plan, you need to know where your moneyis going. Make sure you plan your meals and shop accordingly to avoid unnecessary expenditure.

Utility Bills — phone your current providers and see if cost savings can be achieved, be it Electricity, Gas, TV, Phone or Broadband there are several competitors in each of these industries so savings are possible

Health & Car Insurance – there is a refund due on Health insurance) depending on your plan type) and at time of writing this article rumoured refunds on car insurance policies. Keep an eye on correspondence from your insurance providers regarding these refunds.

Life Assurance policies — ,any people are paying life assurance and mortgage protection cover, these should be reviewed as soon as possible as significant savings could be made.

The best thing to do is engage with an impartial financial adviser who can analyse five different insurance companies to get you the most competitive quote once you satisfy health underwriting criteria. (Most advisers are currently available for online consultations)

Mortgage repayments – if you have lost your job or are on reduced salary contact your mortgage provider to apply for a moratorium on your mortgage repayments – this is often the financial area causing people the most concern

Beware of the credit card — banks charge outrageous interest on credit card balances so be careful, it’s great to have a line of credit but if you’re paying back 17 or 18% interest on the outstanding balance you owe, that’s going to add further financial strain on you

Limit the online impulse buys — one of the ways people are passing time at present is browsing online and picking up “bargains”.

Again, be careful here, whilst they might be bargains the money spent will add up especially if you are living on reduced wages.

Streamline your Direct Debits – Work out what direct debits you need to keep, should keep and can do without.

Once this has been done try if possible to have as many direct debit’s taken on the same day (or as close as possible) — if you have DD’s on 10 different days in the month it’s hard to keep a structure on your finances.

Pay yourself first — now more than ever we see the importance of a “rainy day” fund as a financial buffer for people.

Even if you are on a reduced income it’s important to “pay yourself first” if at all possible i.e. direct some of your income to savings.

Do a tax return – have you claimed back available tax relief on medical expenses? Did you know you can review the last four years?

If you are married and on reduced salary it may be possible to reallocate tax credits. I would recommend engaging with an Accountant or Tax Adviser on this.

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