10 ways to improve your finances when you’re working from home

Author: Huw Jones
Published: 18th March 2020
Categories:

Covid-19 is shutting offices and employees are working remotely. Many people will find they have extra time on thier hands. Even a short commute can add 2-3 hours over the course of a working week. Eventually you’ll want to use some of that time to give your finances a spring clean. Here are 10 things that could make difference to your bottom line – and give you a little bit of peace of mind.

Equipment

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Calendar (phone, computer or paper)
  • pen or pencil
  • paper, note book, tablet/laptop
  • calculator
  • internet access
  • time

All set? Got a refreshing drink to hand? Great let’s dive in…

  1. Check your direct debits and standing orders. First job – cancel anything that you are no longer paying for. This makes your list a bit tidier. Then look to see if there’s any that you don’t need/want any more. Make sure you’re out of contract before cancelling that magazine subscription or gym membership. Also if you’re not sure you need to pause until you find out what it is.
  2. Get a better deal. If you’re out of contract on your phone, TV, broadband, etc. why not see if you can get a better deal. Get some quotes from some competitor firms and then call up your existing supplier to see what sort of deal they can do.
  3. Understand your utility usage (gas, electricity, oil).  Know how much you pay for each and who might be a better supplier for you. There are plenty fo comparison sites that will do this for you. Find out when you can change supplier and add reminders in your phone/computer/kitchen calendar.
  4. Make a list of all the plans that need sorting out annually. What they cost annually and the date of renewal. Add these to your phone/computer/kitchen calendar so that you start the renewal process 4-6 weeks before this date. This list might include for the car things like service, MOT, insurance or breakdown cover. For the house it might include boiler service, house insurance, cleaning the gutters. Children might have a long list too. Changing car insurance, house insurance, breakdown cover each might save you a significant amount compared to staying with your current provider. There no reward for loyalty.
  5. Know your wealth. List out all your assets and their value and whether they are owned by you, your partner or jointly. List them all in a table and add them up. Now do the same for all your debts. But before you add them up find out the exact interest rate that you’re paying on each one.  There are two strategies for paying down debt. The first is paying off the most expensive first (highest interest rate). The second is called debt snowballing. Google has a everything you need here. You pay off the smallest debt first, then add the repayment to the next smallest debt. This way your repayment snowballs. Psychologically you feel you’re making progress.
  6. What do you get from work. List out all the benefits you get from work. Get specific. If you don’t know look in the staff handbook/intranet/contact HR. Things life sick pay, death in service benefits, pension details (a separate topic in itself), SAYE details. Make sure you know what they are and what benefits they give you.
  7. What have you got yourself. List out all the things that you’ve got personally. Understand exactly what they are. Life insurance, income protection, PPI, pensions, investments. If you have an adviser ask them to provide details and get them to explain. Otherwise call the providers and find out. Understand the features and benefits.
  8. Complete an expenditure analysis. Find out (exactly) where your money goes. This is enlightening for most people. Even if it only highlights how much you spend on coffee or that you have no idea where your cash goes. If you want to go to the next level on this you can categorise your expenses into basic (food, shelter, heating, etc), leisure and luxury. Just to be clear, you will need to split your super market shop. Although it might feel like it at times, wine is not required for survival. You might have to decide on the car too. If you have two cars perhaps one is a basic need, the other a luxury.  The aim here is to establish the cost of your survival. The minimum amount you could survive on if things got really bad.  The rest is just frills.
  9. Create a budget. Expenditure analysis is looking in the rear view mirror at what has already happened. With a budget you’re looking through the windscreen. It’s a plan for your future spending.
  10. Review your will. If your will is old it may need updating – the law around wills evolves over time. The wording of your will may not be robust enough to cope with recent case law. This may leave the door open for your will to be challenged in court after you’ve gone. This can have a significant impact on your executors and intended beneficiaries.

Here’s an extra one (for free)

11. Power of attorney If you’re incapacitated you’ll want a power of attorney in place. This will enable one or more people of your choosing (the attorneys) to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types: health and welfare, which enables your attorneys to make decisions about your ongoing medical care. The other is property and financial affairs and it enables your attorneys to make decisions about your money and assets. You can do one or the other or both. The biggest decision is who to appoint as your attorneys. This is the ideal time to give this some serious thought. If your permanently incapacitated who would you want to steer your ship?

Let me know how you get on. I’d love to know how oyu get on with these. Fell free to email me (huw.jones@proposito.co.uk) with any other ideas you have so that I can can share them.