These are scary and uncertain times, but at Salary Finance we have got your back when it comes to your money. Here’s our 10-point checklist of ways to prepare your finances to weather the current crises.
1. Stay calm
Although it might seem like the economy is imploding, the UK government is taking steps to reduce the impact on jobs, including guaranteeing £330 billion of loans to businesses. A £500 million “hardship fund” has been created for local authorities to help vulnerable people and there is also a three-month mortgage payment holiday for homeowners. The Bank of England has cut the interest rate from 0.75% to 0.1% to help boost the economy and businesses. There’s a lot that’s unclear and unknown at the moment, so take the time to look after your own mental and financial health.
2. It’s ok to be worried
No one knows exactly how things will turn out and it’s likely that things will get worse before they get better, but we will get through the coronavirus emergency. It’s only natural to be worried and anxious at such a time but remember that we are all in this situation together and you are not alone. If you are really anxious or feel you need to speak to someone – either on the phone or online – contact the Samaritans.
3. Check out what support your employer offers
Your employer might have new policies or procedures to provide help and support during these difficult times. Make sure you know what is on offer by visiting your employer portal and any Employee Assistance Portal (EAP) that’s available. You also have access to all of the information, products and tools from Salary Finance to support your financial wellbeing.
4. Get free money guidance
If you are struggling with debt or day to day money management you can contact one of the government- funded advice services. You can find local help via this locator website. Speaking to the right people could help you understand where you need to focus and prevent you worrying unnecessarily.
5. Review your spending
Cut all unnecessary expenses and see where you can get cheaper deals on essentials like utilities, debt, and insurances. Money Saving Expert could support you with finding a better utilities deal here and more information on how to negotiate a better broadband deal can be found here. The lower you can get your fixed regular spending, the more resilient you’ll be to any fall or stop in your income. If you are worried you may not be able to afford some of your household bills, you can get support from the Citizens Advice Bureau.
6. Get all the state benefits you are entitled to
The government has changed the rules so that anyone earning below the Lower Earnings Limit (earning less than £118 weekly or £120 weekly from 6th April) who are not entitled to Statutory Sickness Pay, can now claim the Employment and Support Allowance from the 1st day they are unable to work due to Coronavirus. Check with your employer if this affects you. If you’re eligible for Universal Credit, you can also do so without needing to attend a jobcentre.
7. Your financial provider wants to help
Many lenders are putting more flexible repayment schemes in place for those who have borrowed money, or may need financial assistance, such as no fees on repayments for credit cards, loans, mortgages, or repayment deferral.
Some deposit takers will allow emergency access to fixed term savings, or increased cash or online withdrawal limits.
Check with your banking provider and get in touch with them if you think you’ll be impacted by current events.
8. Relax, your savings are safe
Savings that you already have that are held by UK registered financial institutions are backed by the UK government up to £85,000 per person per institution (so £170,000 for joint accounts). You can double check on the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) register here.
9. Seek advice before reacting
The stock markets are falling, but they can also rebound. It's best to seek professional advice from a financial advisor before taking action. Ups and downs are part of how the stock market works, as this article explains in more detail.
10. Know your travel rights
Many airlines are cancelling flights. If they cancel your flight, they should be providing full refunds - contact the airline directly for this. If you want to cancel your travel but the airline is still flying, check whether the airline will provide refunds or free date adjustments. For other travel costs, such as your hotel, it’s more of a case by case issue. If you used your credit card to book travel there may be protection, or you may be covered if you have travel insurance. Consumer group Which? Has a useful summary of your consumer rights on their website here.
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