With lockdown seemingly coming to an end and things reopening, you might be looking for some tips to help you budget better.
Recent research conducted by TransUnion shows that UK consumers are divided when it comes to their post-lockdown money. The majority (54%) are feeling positive about the future, while 38% feel their income has been affected by the pandemic.
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The good news is that a significant number of those surveyed have seen something positive come out of the pandemic. Half of the people in the survey now check their credit records regularly and more than a third are paying more attention to how they spend their money.
3 top tips to help you budget effectively
Keeping up with good money habits is essential for long-term success. Kelli Fielding, TransUnion’s managing director of consumer interactive, and Phil Sheehy, customer goal lead at NatWest, have shared three tips to help you budget better post-lockdown.
1. Give your budget a post-lockdown review
According to NatWest Group, 21% of Brits have seen some loss of income during the pandemic. If you’ve been affected, now is a good time to review your expenses and see where you can cut down.
With things reopening, a good tip to budget better is to pay attention to expenses that you haven’t had to deal with for a while. Restaurant meals, shopping or going to the movies will potentially be part of your budget again. It’s wise to monitor this kind of spending closely and keep it under control.
If you need to tighten up your budget even more, shop around for better deals on insurance, memberships and even utilities.
2. Make sure you can afford all of your basic bills
Since March 2020, TransUnion’s Consumer Pulse research has been tracking financial hardship among consumers. Based on data collected between 5 and 9 March 2021, 43% of Gen Z and 36% of millennials are having (or expect to have) trouble keeping up with their bills after lockdown.
If you fall into that category, a good tip to budget better is to make a list of all your essential payments. Include bills, loans and anything that could affect your credit score if you miss a payment. Then make sure your earnings are enough to cover them all and set up direct debits for anything you can.
If you’re short and cannot cover your essential bills, it’s time to pick up the phone. Talk to your credit card company to see if they can help with a payment plan. Or call your utility providers to see what your options are.
If your work has been affected by coronavirus, there might be additional benefits available to help you. Your local council might also be able to help with living costs or you might be entitled to a council tax reduction. Check the resources available through the Citizens Advice website.
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3. Get into the habit of checking your credit score regularly
A surprising 25% of Brits never check their credit score. Kelli Fielding explains, “Being familiar with your credit profile is essential when it comes to managing your financial standing and understanding what your options are in terms of accessing finance and managing your debt.”
If you suffered financially during lockdown and missed or were late with payments, your credit report could have suffered. Checking your current score will show your current situation so you can take steps to improve your score. A healthy credit score can help you get better interest rates if you apply for a loan.
Checking your credit report regularly can also help you identify any fraudulent financial activity or errors. You can then take action by alerting lenders and the three credit reference agencies, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
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