18 small steps towards getting Money Calm

When it comes to your day-to-day finances, some of the most impactful improvements can be made with the smallest of steps.

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Want to work towards feeling a bit more Money Calm? Take these bite-sized easy steps across all aspects of your finances – from car insurance to broadband.

1   Make the switch to cheaper energy

The cost of gas and electricity is at a three-year low. This makes it a great time to switch your energy and fix into a better deal – especially if, like more than half of UK households, you’re currently on an expensive standard variable rate tariff. The process is carried out remotely and your energy supply will not be disrupted.

Enter your postcode and tell us about your energy habits to put yourself on the starting blocks for your switch.

2   Switch your car insurance before it auto-renews

Car insurance premiums are the cheapest they’ve been for half a decade – so it’s more likely you’ll save money by switching when your current policy is up for renewal.  Don’t worry, you can usually carry any no claims you’ve built up to a different insurer.

It’s also worth noting that, from Monday 18 May you will be able to ask your car insurer for help if you are struggling to make payments due to coronavirus under new rules set down by industry regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. For example, a temporary reduction in cover, which reduces your monthly premiums.

If you can’t come to a suitable arrangement, you can ask for a payment deferral of between one and three months – in some cases longer. You will have to actively make the request before 18 August, when the current support will be reviewed again by the FCA.

Find out about coronavirus and car insurance

3   Control your credit score

Being in the dark about your credit score could mean you’re not getting access to the best deals – from mobile contracts right through to mortgages. Unearth your score now with our hassle-free Credit Monitor tool. If something’s not right, submit a Notice of Correction with TransUnion, the credit reference agency, and get it changed.

4   Get better broadband

With many families permanently under one roof, coronavirus lockdown underlined the importance of the right broadband package – and switching to it could work out up to 40% cheaper a year. If you want faster fibre optic, check it’s available in your area first.

5   Clean up your direct debits

Your monthly spending may have reduced under lockdown – but what about the outgoings that leave your account automatically? Review your direct debits and ensure you only pay for what you need.

6   Hang onto your life insurance

However, make sure life insurance is not among the direct debits you plan to cancel. If you stop paying, your cover stops too which leaves your loved ones unprotected. Premiums are also likely to be higher if you take out a new policy further down the line.

Instead, if you’re struggling to make payments due to coronavirus, help is now available under FCA guidance. This might be a temporary reduction in cover, where appropriate, for lower premiums or even a payment deferral. You’ll need to contact your insurer before 18 August to ask for support.

It’s also worth running a quote to see if you can find a better deal.  Average premiums for non-smoker are just £15 a month according to our recent data.

7   Take coronavirus help if you need it 

If your household income has been reduced or even stopped entirely as a result of coronavirus, you may be struggling to make your usual monthly payments. But don’t worry – there’s a whole raft of payment breaks available from mortgages to car finance. Find out more at our family finances coronavirus guide.  Payment holidays will need to be agreed in advance with your lender, so never just cancel direct debits.

8   Don't worry about your MOT...

MOT due? Because of coronavirus the expiry date will be extended for six months, which means an immediate £54 back in your pocket for now. Keep up to date with the latest MOT guidance here.

9   ...but ensure your car is roadworthy 

However, it will still be your responsibility to keep your vehicle roadworthy. We’ve made this job easy by identifying these simple checks to make to your car.

10   Cash in on low mortgage rates

Interest rates are down at a miniscule 0.1% which is great news for mortgages. If you are coming to the end of your deal – or you’re on your lender’s pricey standard variable rate – it’s likely you could save by switching. We work with independent brokers London and Country and Fluent but you can start your own research at our mortgage tables.

Find out about coronavirus and mortgages

11   Check your chances before applying for borrowing

If you’re applying for a new loan or credit card at MoneySuperMarket, use our eligibility tool first to find out your chances of being accepted. You can then use this information to decide whether to proceed or switch to a more suitable product. Fewer searches – and rejections – on your credit score will go a long way towards protecting it.

12   Get straight on your credit cards

If you have debt sitting on plastic, use our credit cards calculator to find out how long it will take to pay off and what you can do to get it cleared sooner. 

13   Cover mishaps in the home

Not all home insurance includes accidental damage as standard – something many families may have found out the hard way over the coronavirus lockdown. However, it’s usually a simple job to get it bolted onto your current cover for a one-off payment – just contact your insurer.

And if your policy is due to expire, see if you can get a better deal by switching. Bear in mind you’re likely to get better prices if you give yourself at least 21 days before you want the new cover to start.

14   Don't give up on your savings

With interest rates down at 0.1%, returns on savings are also low. But there are still simple ways to make the most of your cash – such as using your full tax-free ISA allowance.

15   Keep your first home dream alive

Don’t be put off by reports of dwindling mortgages for purchases – there are still banks that will lend to buyers with smaller deposits. And, if you only have 5% to put down, check out the government’s Help to Buy scheme which runs in its current form until April 2021. There’s also nothing to stop you saving, researching and checking out the property portals.

16   Make steps out of your overdraft

Regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority has ordered banks to offer the first £500 in overdrafts interest-free during coronavirus. But this has been laid over separate rules stating banks, for purposes of transparency, must charge a single annual interest rate of around 40%. If you live in your overdraft and have the means, draw up a simple plan to get out of it while the going’s good.

17   Switch to banking via an app

Keeping track of your current account is a lot easier from your smartphone. So, if you haven’t already, download your provider’s app and give it a go.

If you’re already a digital convert, why not switch to a digital-only bank? Their apps offer additional features such as spending categories and tools which automatically round up your spending and save the surplus. Switching is hassle-free easy and shouldn’t take longer than seven working days.

18   Swap your old devices for cash

Selling your old phones or tablets can be so low on the priority list, you could put the job off forever. But it’s super quick and easy with our mobile recycling service. Just enter the type of device, get a price, send it away and the cash will be paid into your bank. A working iPhone 7 could fetch just over £100.

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