The U.K. is back in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Albeit a slightly different lockdown from that of March - schools and places of education are open, cafes and restaurants are open for takeaway and the end date of 2nd December in sight (supposedly).
We’re already two weeks into the lockdown, and we think it’s safe to say this lockdown has a very different feel. The way money will be treated in the second lockdown is going to be slightly different to the first. During lockdown 1.0 we saw people paying off debt, saving thousands and thriving with their money management. Whilst lockdown 2.0 gives us the same opportunity, there is one thing that is slightly different…and that is Christmas. Christmas is just around the corner and with coffee shops and restaurants still open for takeout, money will still be spent during this lockdown.
But the good news is that it is still a great time to work on your finances. And we’ve listed 8 ways which you can start to do just that…
Claim Refunds for any cancelled holidays or events
Coronavirus has seen many life events being cancelled…holidays, weddings, gatherings and so much more (we are still processing our cancelled trip to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore) BUT we are taking a more much optimistic approach by not focussing on the negative but in fact moving on (because we’re more mature like that). Moving on and getting our rightful money back that is.
Check your calendar from March to now and see if there are any events that you paid for but did not attend or flights that you booked but got cancelled. There are a number of ways to get your money back for these. First, try raise a refund with the company in question - given you did not receive the service they promised to deliver, you should be well within your rights to get your money back. Some great advice is set out here. If they aren’t budging, contact your bank to see if they can do a charge back, this is a transaction reversal made by your bank to dispute a previous payment and secure a refund for the purchase - it may not always work but worth a try. If all else fails, you can always taking the merchant to small claims court.
Track down and collate pensions arrangements
If you’ve had several jobs, worked in different countries, or been self employed for a period of time, it can be difficult to keep track of your pensions a.k.a the sum of money you are going to live on when you retire and no longer work. One in Ten pension savers have lost track of at least one pension (people are losing money y’all). This can happen when you sign up to different pensions that may be provided by your employer then leave a job and leave their pension scheme, and lets be honest when you are moving jobs, your pension is usually the last thing on the to-do list. There’s no better way to say “I have my future life together” than collating all your pensions in one place. The U.K. Government set up the Pension Tracing Service to track lost pensions under your name. There are also a number of apps, one being PensionBee where you can consolidate your pensions in one place.
Review your insurance policies
With most insurance policies, we get a message every year explaining that it will be renewed and as the no-brainer option and to save time we hit the renewal button. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us that life can change in a flash. So when you have a spare minute, it’s always good to check whether your insurance still makes sense for your life. Have you bought new electronics that need insurance? Have you recently found out your house is prone to flooding? Don’t just hit auto-renew, check if your policy is best suited and value for you.
Create a budget
A budget sets the foundations and tells you where your money should be going, instead of wondering where it went. It’s used to understand exactly how much you are earning and where it is being spent. Getting a better understanding of your whole financial picture including knowing how much money you have, how many bills you have, what the left other money is and how you spend your money will give you a great foundation to get to work with.
Think of it like this, a writer wouldn’t start a book without a plan, a runner wouldn’t start a race without warming up, so why should someone who has an idea of money start their journey without a budget. Knowing where you get your money from, where it goes is a fundamental step to take understanding your attitudes towards money as well as laying the foundations to control of your finances.
Noting down how much you earn and planning set amounts to spend each month, as well as overarching money goals gives you focus, direction and makes you want to do whatever is in your means to stick to it (humans are competitive and we love a challenge, our challenge is a budget). Whether it's a Zero based budget, where how much you spend matches exactly how much is coming into your account, or a 50/30/20 budget, where you allocate 50% of income towards needs, 30% to wants and 20% to savings - budgets are essential!
The days of scary looking thousand line spreadsheet budgets, whilst trying to work out how much is in your current account, savings account, credit cards and investments. Thanks to the range of money apps out there, you connecting all your accounts in one place and budget online.
Switch your energy providers
Whilst we are all at home, we are using a lot more energy, electricity, water and heat. Which means you may have noticed your energy bills increase, especially as we are heading in to the winter. It is worth having picking up the phone with your providers to find out if you are on the cheapest tariff they can offer you. If you wanted to completely jump ship, the website MoneySuperMarket.com is the KING of searching for savings based on your postcode and energy usage. It is super quick to change your energy provider, with the average switching time between 16 and 18 days and no interruption to the service, which means you can keep watching Netflix. Switching your energy provider could save you up to £286.50 per year (figures from Money Supermarket)
Update your CV
This one could have a long term benefit to your money. The pandemic has impacted the job market like never before…sectors of workers were forced to stay at home and not work, job cuts have been widespread and the word ‘furlough’ was introduced to our dictionary. If you have spare time, it’s a great time to brush up your CV! Make it more visually appealing (you know we love Canva for great templates), ensure all your experiences are up to date. If this period of uncertainty has made you realise you want a career change, brush up on those transferable skills and write a skills based CV. You could also look into up-skilling yourself - do that online course to master that skill you’ve always wanted to do, get qualified and most importantly invest in yourself.
Start a side hustle
We are firm believers in side hustles. We have loved seeing people’s side hustles thrive this lockdown. So many women have started side hustles during lockdown and now they are some of our favourite brands and businesses. The team at Fempire Finance understand the passion that goes into growing a side hustle. Side hustles are genuine, they are on your terms and down to you and you only to make a success of it. And when you do, there is no better feeling. So with that time saved instead of doing your 2 hour commute on the central line (yawwwn) you can start your own empire…or fempire! And maybe, just maybe it’ll become more than a side hustle.
Do a financial health check up
Just like our bodies, our finances need a check up every once in a while. Whether it’s with someone who is a professional or whether its you, your wine and your journal to reflect. Understanding how your finances currently look and how you envision them to look in the future, then identifying the gaps to get there as well as checking all the clogs in your personal finance machine are well oiled and turning is key to the pathway of financial freedom.
As one of our amazing followers on Instagram said, every lockdown is a new opportunity.