But things have changed.
While this famous quote sums up the ultimate goal of women in Jane Austen’s era of securing a suitable husband for their financial stability, recent research from Scottish Widows shows just how different our priorities are today.
In stark contrast to Mrs Bennet – the mother of the novel’s protagonist Elizabeth – less than one-in-three parents today believe their daughters’ financial security is dependent on having a husband.
Instead, more than half of parents (56%) believe that the top priority for their children is getting a good education, with a mere 4% believing that starting a family should be a primary concern.
The research also showed how the tables have turned full circle with more parents believing their son’s financial security is dependent on having a wife (37.7%) than their daughter’s is on having a husband (31.9%).
But while we may find the attitudes of the nineteenth century towards marriage and money amusing, being financially secure is as important as ever.
So whether you are male or female, here are some tips to help you on your way.
Know where you stand
Your credit score needs to be your first port of call when getting your finances in order as it paints a picture of how your financial situation is right now.
Having a low credit score can have a huge knock-on effect to other areas of your life as it can determine whether or not you will be accepted in the future for mortgages, credit cards and loans.
A statutory credit report will cost you just £2 and can be ordered online. Or if you want a more detailed overview, signing up to online services such as Experian allows you to view your report online every month. MoneySupermarket’s credit report channel will help you decide on the best option.
If you discover that your credit score is below par, there are a number of steps you can take to turn things around. Reading Melanie Wright’s article ‘Tricks to improve your credit score' is a good place to start.
Clear your debt
The one thing that can really hold you back financially is being attached to the shackles of debt. But there is no point burying your head in the sand – you need to take action.
If your debt is held on a credit card (which comes with average APRs of 17.32%), see if you can transfer it to a balance transfer card with a long interest-free period. This will give you the breathing space you need to stop interest accruing and allow you to pay off what you have borrowed.
For example, Barclays has just upped its interest-free period on its Platinum Credit Card with Extended Balance Transfer to an enormous 25 months. That gives you more than two years to clear your debt without paying a penny more in interest. The fee is 3.2%.
Take advantage of this card by working out the amount you’ll need to pay each month to clear the debt by the end of the interest free period, and then set up a direct debit from your current account.
If you’re unlikely to be able to clear it, be prepared to move your debt once the interest free period expires, otherwise you risk paying a large representative APR of 18.9% and risk landing yourself back in exactly the same position.
There are numerous balance transfer cards on the market so take a look at MoneySupermarket’s balance transfer credit card channel to find the best deal for you.
Start building up your own savings
With the high cost of living, and bills around every corner, you may feel that you’re never going to be able to afford to save.
However, just putting away even a small amount each month will eventually build up a cushion to fall back on in the future.
One of the best ways to do this is by opening a cash ISA as you won’t be charged tax on the interest your savings earns. The cash allowance for the current tax year (until April 5) is £5,640. You can choose to opt for either a fixed rate ISA, (which will mean locking your money away but will tend to offer better returns) or an account with a variable rate of interest that allows easy access to your cash.
For example, the Scottish Widows Bank E-Cash ISA will earn you interest of 1.80% tax-free. You will have instant access to your cash and can open the account with as little as £10.
Halifax, on the other hand requires you to lock your cash away for two years in its ISA Saver Fixed, but you will be rewarded with tax-free interest of 2.30%.
There are many different options with ISAs, so it pays to do your research and shop around. Jessica Bown’s article ‘What is an ISA’ will teach you everything you need to know.
Start a pension
Saving for your old age may be the last thing on your mind, but starting to put something away for your retirement now is absolutely crucial.
Fortunately, a move by the government last year has made this easier. Every company will now be required by law to offer their employees a workplace pension.
The scheme is being rolled out in phases over five years, starting with the largest companies first. You will be automatically enrolled, and only by actively opting out will you be exempt.
For more information on this, read my article ‘Did you know the pension rules have changed?’
So, 200 years after the creation of Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, being financially stable is just as important – the big difference is, it no longer needs to involve anybody else.
By following the above tips and getting organised early, you’ll be able to take control of your own financial future and keep your love life separate.
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