When you lose a partner you can find yourself thrown in at the deep end. In some cases this can mean having to get to grips with managing the household finances for the first time.
It can seem daunting but here are some steps to help you take control of your money.
- A good starting point is to draw up a budget so you can get a clear view of how much you’ve got coming in and going out. It may not sound like the most exciting thing to do but it’s the first step to feeling on top of your finances. The Money Advice Service Budget Planner can help you with this.
- If you find you have less cash than you thought, keep a spending diary to see what’s missing from your budget or where you’re overspending. You can either do this manually with pen and paper or with the help of an app or spreadsheet.
- Put aside money each month for big expenses such as holidays, Christmas and annual bills so you don’t get caught out by these.
- Take advantage of supermarket offers, money-saving vouchers and restaurant discounts. There are several websites which can help with this such as mysupermarket.co.uk and moneysavingexpert.com
- Make sure you’re not paying over the odds for insurance or utility bills by using price comparison sites such as uSwitch.com, gocompare.com and confused.com.
- Pay bills on time to avoid unnecessary fines and damaging your credit record. Also consider paying bills by direct debit – you’ll often get a discount for doing so plus it can help you spread the cost of bills over several months rather than having one big bill every quarter or annually. A direct debit is an instruction you give to your bank or building society to take money from your account on a regular basis to pay a particular organisation.
- Build up an emergency fund so you have a buffer against unexpected costs. Saving just £5 a week can build up an emergency fund of £260 a year.
- Cut the cost of your debts. If you have a loan, mortgage or credit card, check comparison websites to make sure you’re not paying over the odds for these. But also remember to factor in any penalty charges there may be for switching. If you have lots of debts or expensive borrowing, make sure you pay off your priority debts first (the ones that have the most serious consequences if you don’t pay them), then focus on paying off the most expensive ones. Find out what priority debts are in this Money Advice Service guide.
- Ensure your savings are earning the best rates of interest available by using a comparison site such as Moneyfacts.
- Check you or a member of your family is getting all the state benefits you’re entitled to by using one of the benefits calculators at gov.uk.
Please note that the price comparison websites mentioned in this article are suggestions only, their inclusion in this article does not imply we endorse them.
Written on 13 February 2018