Well, here we go again in the UK, with Wales restrictions about to be reviewed and England still in lockdown it seems there could be stressful time ahead when it comes to finances. It’s a challenging time with yet another tight squeeze on the finances for many. For some, the tight squeeze may have brought your finances to bursting point when the last remaining dribs and drabs dribble out entirely.
It’s a relief to know that there are some places to turn to, and receive help and advice. While everyone is talking about ‘how to work from home’, the truth is not everyone can and for some, COVID-19 has been financially devastating. Maybe you are one of those that have been made redundant during this second lockdown, are working shorter hours or have had to close doors once again on your self-employment business. It is a worrying time, but here are a couple of helpful tips we hope can help you find some relief at this time:
- Stick to your budget: It is imperative to focus on essential spending like heating, housing, food, and your council tax. At this time, if you need to use your savings, do it. Those savings for the ‘rainy day’ are here now, and this is the time to use them.
- Start going through the bills of the household and see where you can cut. Remember if you can cancel certain services, do so, or try and get cheaper deals too. Shop around at a site like Comparethemarket for example.
- If you have reached the stage where you simply cannot pay something like your energy bill, call the provider – maybe you can make arrangements to spread your costs. Councils have stronger powers to recover debts than some of the other creditors, but also have ways they can help – maybe you can spread your council tax payments over a year instead of the 10 standard months – they might also discuss a discount with you. Contact them as soon as you can.
- Mortgages and loans: The mortgage payment holidays are extended, so if you are battling again, borrowers have until 31 January 2021 to arrange for deferral of payments. Unfortunately though, if you have delayed payments amounting to six months or you have already done so twice already, there are not likely to be any more breaks. Lenders though are keen on supporting struggling people to arrange repayments – again, they will usually be more accommodating if you call them.
- Try and claim any benefits you are entitled to: Look at this website entitledto.co.uk to check what could be due to you.
- Check out what support is also available from the local authority such as support regarding school costs or living costs if you have kids. Often the Council will help with things like meals, transport, and uniforms for the kids. Sometimes they have funds that help those who are self-isolating and who can’t work and earn. See how and if you qualify for help. In many instances, if they cannot help, the local authority can point you towards third sector support. In Bridgend, for example, BAVO acts as a signpost for local voluntary organisations, and co-ordinated care, volunteer support and even free meals during the last pandemic.
- While you are locking-down at home, consider making money online: It might be a golden opportunity of finding new ways, maybe even permanent ways, of making money online, particularly if you have been made redundant. However, make sure you research any opportunities thoroughly, remember, anyone can set up a website.
Benefits and Charitable Support
Money problems cause huge stress and anxiety – so if you are struggling don’t be afraid to reach out. If you are on a low income, or have lost your income, you can try and claim universal credit.
Thousands of religious groups, charities, etc. reach out to offer help for those fallen on hard times and one sector that is always hard hit is the hospitality sector. One special charity helps those in this sector; it’s Hospitality Action that considers grant applications. There is one for teachers at the Education Support Partnership. And there’s this one for civil servants; The Charity for Civil Servants.
Finally, don’t let your family go hungry. This helpful article from the Citizens Advice Bureau explains how to access help from a food bank. This can apply to pets too, BARC animal rescue centre in Bridgend offers free pet food (donated by pet food manufacturers, local businesses and individuals) via a similar referral scheme.
For the thousands of people who are short of cash this month, there is a quick and easy online solution that will help you out quickly in a crisis and that’s a payday loan. It truly can be a lifesaver! Sometimes there can be negativity around them, but you just have to know how to choose the reputable ones, here is a good review of the UK’s best payday lenders.
A couple of things to remember in lockdown, because no one can say there won’t be a third –
- Never accept defeat and remember that change does not equate to failure.
- This past year, 2020 has changed many things for millions of people. Whilst working from home or looking for online opportunities to offer your services, the web has become the top place to go. By utilising online platforms you are provided networking opportunities that will keep future clients, customers, and connections up to date with you.
- Learn to be flexible because this year brought unpredictability, change, and lockdown. Next year might as well. Being restricted in the physical movement has intensified the need for you to adapt to new changes and opportunities so you can keep your finger on the pulse at all times. Remember that crisis alters your priorities, so start developing proactive solutions to blend into the transforming landscape.
Get the help you can from the financial tips we have offered and start planning your future. Even if the job you did before lockdown has changed, you can still make a new plan for what you will do in the future as you get ready to break new barriers into the new normal – You can do this!