Top accountant and business coach Faye Watts shares ten practical ways to cope with a rubbish situation and help you bounce back quickly
It’s time to get real and say it like it is: this year is not looking like a vintage one. Job anxiety is at an all-time high and experts are predicting mass redundancies when the furlough scheme draws to an end. Many organisations have already had large staff culls and others are letting people know redundancy is looming. It’s scary times for the job market. If you’re up against an imminent redundancy or fearful of the future, these top ten money-saving tips will help prepare you and keep you financially on your toes.
My top ten money-saving tips
1. Start by getting familiar
Get everything together in one place, either spread over the kitchen table or use an online app, such as Yolt, to collate everything digitally. These types of apps will allow you to see your bank and credit card accounts in one place. Work out how much you have in savings and how much debt you have, no matter how big or small. Doing a full financial overview will give you a clear view of your position. It will also give you the clarity to help you make the right financial decisions. This is not the time to bury your head in the sand and get ready to feel uncomfortable. This exercise takes you out of your comfort zone. Only once you know your true position, will you be able to properly plan and make the best of my money-saving tips.
2. Summarise your outgoings
Review your bank and credit cards to work out how much you are spending. Get really clear on your day to day living costs as well as your irregular expenses. Look back over three months so you get a more realistic overview. Separate your outgoings into three columns; Essential (like household bills, mortgage, rent and food), Non-essential regular (like Netflix, Sky, and Spotify) and Luxuries (like blow-dries, clothes, meals out and treats). You might be surprised by how much you are spending. Where could you slash your costs? Could you use this as an opportunity to lower any of your outgoings, like your utilities? Once you know this, it could give you the drive take action.
3. Deal with your debt position
Know what debts you have, if any. This is an extension to my first money-saving tip. And an opportunity to review the rates of interest and fees you are paying on debt and look at ways you can consolidate, reduce interest being paid, make use of interest-free credit cards or review your terms. Be honest with yourself and take advice if you need it to make a plan.
4. Pause your savings and investments
If you have savings – don’t be scared to use them if you have to. To be honest, it’s doubtful you’re earning much interest right now. But be mindful of any cost of drawing down investments early, particularly where you might pay an early withdrawal fee or lose any bonus, so review everything. Pause payments into any investment where you can’t get access to the funds, until you can attain more financial security. For example, pause any pension payments (being mindful that your employer may be contributing also so you may not want to stop employment contributions if you still have a job). Don’t cancel any life or critical illness policies though without taking financial advice first, so you don’t risk losing a policy.
5. Take a mortgage holiday
If you have a mortgage and haven’t done so already, it’s not too late to request a mortgage holiday from your lender. The scheme was set up by the government to help individuals as part of the COVID-19 support package and this has been extended to 31 October 2020. If you are a tenant, speak to your landlord about any flexibility on your rent.
6. Consider taking on a part-time job
Even if it means working longer hours whilst you are still working, it may help to plan for the worst, so getting a secondary role might prove a life-line should you need it and if not, you could put some extra money aside in doing so. Check your current employment doesn’t restrict this.
7. Let out a room
If you have some extra space, you could let out a spare bedroom to a regular lodger or take on ad-hoc AirBnB tenants. You can earn £7,500 tax-free per household in each tax year under the Rent-a-Room scheme.
8. Get your CV ready
Not strictly a money-saving tip but be prepared to take on some freelance work. Speak to agencies in your sector and don’t forget to update your LinkedIn profile and bring your CV up to date. Should you need to use it for any job searches, you’ll be ready to move fast if you need to.
9. Embrace a secret passion
How about starting a business or even just a side-hustle for some extra cash. How could you use your existing skills or where could you retrain? If you fancy being your own boss, this could even be the push you need. Even if it’s just hobby income, you can earn up to £1,000 tax-free in a tax year under HMRC’s Trading Allowance if you just want to dabble before you commit. The change in your circumstances may galvanize you to drive a business to excel and make this a permanent way of working.
10. Take professional advice
Hopefully these money-saving tips will help but nothing beats speaking to a professional tax adviser, accountant or financial adviser for financial guidance. Or you could speak to the Money Advice Service, which is a free support service set up by the government to give impartial money advice to help people with their finances.
And my bonus money-saving tip: don’t shy away, talk to your line manager, talk to a trusted friend or family member or speak to a professional if you are concerned about your options. There will be a way forward and you may even find this is the push you always wanted after all.
* Faye Watts is a business coach and tax adviser. She is a partner of London accountancy firm FUSE Accountants, helping SME businesses grow and is a co-founder of Audrey Online, an online platform for women wanting a new direction in life