As we’re now likely to be spending most of our time at home, whilst we may be saving money on commuting, socialising and gym memberships, the extent of the coronavirus outbreak on our finances is yet to be quantified. It is unlikely, however, to be positive.
Therefore this could be a good opportunity to “spring clean” our finances by dealing with those financial related jobs that we’ve put off until “we have time”, or more poignantly now “we really need to”.
With the recent drop in interest rates to 0.1%, even with the proposed mortgage holiday option (should you need it), this is the ideal time to see if you can fix your rate, or see what deals are currently most competitive. It may even be a good time to consolidate any other debts and either remortgage or get a second charge to reduce your overall outgoings. Contact a mortgage broker or financial adviser (we have specialists here at Birchwood) who specialises in the “whole of market” to give you comprehensive, unbiased guidance.
With interest rates so low, you may feel this is not a priority, however it’s worth putting in some time to research which accounts are paying the highest levels – presently 1.31% (at time of writing) for easy access savings. Applications can be done online, so you don’t need to venture outside and once you’re accepted you should be able to transfer funds over immediately. Saving cash in this way may not bring you the best returns but if you need to ensure quick access to money, without penalties, make sure you’re getting the best result you can in the current climate.
If you’re monitoring your pension fund, ISAs or general investments, don’t panic – a long-term approach is needed as markets both rise and fall. If you’ve got several pensions in different funds through changing jobs and auto-enrolment policies, this may be the time to discuss options with your financial adviser to gauge if you’re in the right funds, that suit your financial objectives for the future.
How many of us glance at our bank statements and make a note to remember to cancel a subscription that we last made use of over a year ago? We have more subscriptions now than ever before, with media streaming services, paid for phone-apps, gym memberships we don’t use, magazine subscriptions and even diet clubs that sadly haven’t transformed our eating habits. Go through your monthly statements, and be strict on what you really need to keep and what you can cancel – you may be surprised at how much you save each month.
The television adverts urging us to compare markets really hit home when the Financial Conduct Authority reported last October that six million home and motor policyholders are being charged an extra £200 each, every year, by insurance companies, just for being “loyal”. It also found that lower income customers tend to be charged more as well as they are more likely to buy combined buildings and contents insurance. You won’t be able to switch certain insurances until their renewal dates but make a note in your diary of when these are and look to see now what you can save as an incentive to remind you when the time comes.
You will need a good broadband provider, especially if you’re working from home, however when you start a new contract you’re usually tied in to an introductory rate, but this quietly expires without you being notified. If you haven’t checked your payments in a while, it may come as a shock to see how much your payments have increased. Either contact your provider to negotiate or make a switch.
You may be sitting on some hidden gems within your household that when sold, could nett you some useful income over the next few weeks. Online stores like eBay, Etsy and Gumtree are all useful tools, and being online you don’t need to worry about the current social distancing requirements.