Mark Abrams, chief executive officer at Auriga, provides his top tips on how you can get your finances in shape, and feel confident you are making the most of your money.

Sadly, with all that’s going on around coronavirus, people may be worried about their own and loved ones’ physical health and mental health. With schools also closed, except for children of key workers, this could be a challenging time for parents and families financially.

It’s vital people think about how coronavirus could impact their financial wellbeing. We’re delighted to be working with BHSF on providing independent and confidential money management advice.

Here are some steps you can take now to deal with any financial challenges and to, hopefully give you some peace of mind during the coming months.

Bills

Disconnections are suspended for customers of all providers, with most pushing back bill dates. For example, British Gas has confirmed it’s removing late payment charges for those struggling financially.

Trade body Water UK is announcing it’s working with water firms to arrange payment breaks, payment holidays and more for those struggling.

If you are genuinely worried about paying your bills, get in touch with your energy and water suppliers or your bank, they will have measures in place to help customers struggling.

Making minor tweaks can make a difference, such as lowering your thermostat by one degree and putting extra clothing on. Every little helps.

Planning

Like a balanced diet for your physical and mental health, putting a budget in place could lead to better financial health. It can help you take control of where you need to spend your money. This will include essentials like rent or mortgage, utility bills and transport and, hopefully, some things you enjoy.

Bearing in mind the current circumstances, if you are renting you can’t be evicted for three months and landlords can get help too. As well as universal credit housing help, new rules mean landlords in England and Wales won’t be able to start new eviction proceedings for at least the next three months, protecting private and social tenants.

Five major lenders are also letting people apply for a mortgage payment holiday online. If you are struggling to pay your mortgage, lenders will allow you to take a break on paying for three months. If you apply online you could hear back within minutes.

The important part is to regularly set aside time to forecast your spending, for example, each time you get paid.

Credit

The coronavirus crisis has developed very quickly and people may be looking at using credit or borrowing to tide them over. Some forms of borrowing can be very expensive, so people need to understand all the options available before making a decision.

The changes around Universal Credit are bigger than you think especially for housing costs. Universal credit is a benefit available to many who are employed, self-employed, unemployed or on low incomes (but usually not pensioners), provided you have less than £16,000 savings in your household.

The housing allowance, which can cover rent, mortgage interest and service charge, has been unfrozen meaning pay-outs can be larger.

Don’t overspend

It’s been in the news about some people stocking up and panic buying. Shopping responsibly is key.

No matter how big or small your budget is, not overspending is a really important habit to get into. It’s all about knowing your limits and using your money wisely.

It means focusing your spending on essentials or things you value. Getting value out of your money is vital, especially now.

Be realistic when it comes to spending your money. Set yourself achievable goals and give yourself some leeway. Setting realistic targets and thinking about your financial goals can be a big motivator.

 

If you need money management advice and support, call us today on 0800 622 552 or email: crt@bhsf.co.uk