Understanding your energy usage
In these uncertain times, we know that looking after the health and wellbeing of those around you is the most important thing. We also understand that the steps being taken to control the coronavirus outbreak could be creating financial uncertainty for you and your family. We want to help where we can, so we’re continuing to offer relevant tips to help you manage your bills.
With plans to start lifting lockdown in place for the summer, it feels like there’s finally something positive to look forward to. For now, we’ll still be spending most of our time at home, so why not take some time to give your finances a spring clean? A bit of financial self-care could be rewarding, and not just for your wallet. Here are some small steps you can take to help you make the most of your money.
A financial declutter is an ideal place to start your spring clean. Even if you find managing your finances overwhelming at the best of times – a spot of decluttering can go a long way to help bring things under control. Here are some easy things you can do:
With the Open Banking reforms now in place, the easiest way to do this is with a money app. You can connect your current accounts, savings accounts and credit cards to budgeting apps such as Yolt and Money Dashboard to see all your accounts, and your total balance minus your upcoming credit bills and direct debits in one place.
Of course, if the app route isn’t for you, you could check your accounts online or physically print out your recent statements.
With lockdown restrictions still in place, make sure you’re not paying for subscriptions you’re not able to use or need. This could include gym memberships or cinema subscriptions. Check through your statements for any recurring payments. If there’s any you don’t want or need, cancel them directly with the provider as soon as possible.
If you want to keep your subscription long-term but don’t need it in the short-term, check with the company if you can pause your subscription.
Whatever your situation, you should take another look at your household expenses and budget.
Under normal circumstances, a good rule of thumb would be to use the 50/30/20 method – where you split your monthly earnings so that 50% goes on your needs, 30% on your wants and 20% on savings and paying off debts.
But because many are seeing their incomes impacted, standard budgeting tools might not be the answer for everyone.
Instead, your priority should be to make sure your monthly income after tax (whether it’s changed or not) covers your ‘needs’ – the basics you need to have an acceptable quality of life, such as:
If you’re concerned about being able to pay your mortgage, credit bill or any other repayments – you should discuss your situation with the relevant bank, building society, local authority or provider as soon as possible. The government directed institutions and businesses to take the crisis into account last year, so you should get a sympathetic hearing. You can find more detailed information in our guide to coronavirus and family finances.
If you’re confident your needs are covered, and you’re able to do so – start putting a little extra into an easily accessible savings account to cover any unexpected costs. The current situation is changing daily – so it makes sense to have some emergency funds just in case. One option is to flip the 50/30/20 rule so that you’re putting more into your savings (30%) than you’re spending on wants (20%).
It’s worth questioning whether your current, savings and credit accounts are working hard enough for you. Depending on your financial goals, you could consider the following:
Representative example: If you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a. your representative APR is 21.9% APR (variable)
If you’re thinking of applying for a credit card, it’s worth downloading the Credit Monitor app. Credit Monitor lets you see your credit score and report for free, and gives you personalised tips on how to improve it – as well as showing you credit cards that you’re likely to be accepted for.
Whatever your money goals we’ve got lots of clever ways to save a lot, by doing very little:
*30% of consumers that applied to switch via MoneySuperMarket saved at least £273.92, April 2020 – March 2021. Excludes NI, CI & IOM.
**51% of consumers could save up to £235.93 on their annual car insurance premiums. Consumer Intelligence, March 2021.
***51% of consumers could save up to 46.27% on their annual buildings and contents insurance. Consumer Intelligence, March 2021.
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