10 essential tips to help you protect your finances
The UK continues to follow some level of social distancing restrictions, and after going through three lockdowns as well as experiencing severe financial uncertainty, now is the perfect time to sit down and have an in-depth look at your finances and find ways in which you can protect them. After all, you've worked hard to earn your money!
Here are 10 simple tips to help you transform and protect your finances this year.
1. Check your credit score and work on improving it
Your credit score and report provide a reflection of your overall financial health, i.e. how good you are at managing your money and making repayments, so it’s important that you check your score regularly.
You can use a credit reference agency's website, such as Experian, or use a multi-agency credit reporting website such as Checkmyfile which uses all the four main credit reference agencies in the UK (including Experian).
For information on how to improve your credit rating, be sure to see our guide: How to improve your credit score immediately.
Check your credit score with Checkmyfile:
2. Make a will
Making a will is one of the most important things you can do to protect your finances, your hard-earned assets (known as your 'estate') and your loved ones.
With a legally-valid will, you will be able to express your final wishes, plan your funeral, state the beneficiaries you wish to inherit from your estate, and choose how you want your assets to be shared out.
You can set up a will at-home using an online will-writing service such as Wills.Services.
3. Move your savings
While interest rates may not be great across the board, there is quite a significant difference between the best and worst savings accounts.
Shop around and find out if you could be getting a better rate elsewhere, and perhaps consider specialist ISAs such as the Lifetime ISA, as they traditionally offer a better rate than other accounts.
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4. Switch energy suppliers
Switching energy suppliers frequently could save you hundreds of pounds on your utility bills every year, so it’s certainly worth doing if you don't want to be paying over the odds for your gas and electricity unnecessarily!
You should also do the traditional energy-saving methods that have been used for decades, such as turning the TV off rather than leaving it on standby and closing the blinds at night to keep the heat in. If you don't have a smart meter, see if your existing energy provider will give you one or switch to someone who can offer it! It will make you more aware of the energy you're using and will help you cut down on your usage, helping you to save money every month.
Read more: Switching your energy suppliers
5. Protect your home & income
There are various ways to protect your home as well as your income - some policies can help cover you if ever you’re unable to work through illness or injury.
Here are a few common policies available with insurers in the UK that are definitely worth considering:
Which product you choose depends on your personal circumstances, but it’s something you should think about, especially if you have a partner, dependants or financial commitments. Read our guide What insurance do I need? for further information on what types of cover you should look into.
6. Compare bank accounts
Comparing bank accounts and checking deals on offer with other current account providers can be useful every so often, as you may find that there are better benefits out there than what you’re currently being offered.
You could even be offered hundreds of pounds in cash simply by switching to a new provider, so it’s definitely worth shopping around.
Read our guide for more advice and info:
- The best bank accounts with cashback, interest offers & switching bonuses
- Does a joint bank account affect your credit score?
7. Get a pension review
You pay into your pension every month and you will undoubtedly rely on it when your retirement comes around, so it must be set up correctly in a way that gets the most out of your contributions.
Over 50s with a personal or workplace pension are able to get a free, impartial advice appointment with the government’s Pension Wise scheme.
Alternatively, you could pay for a full pension review through a private company, which may be able to offer you a more tailored, in-depth assessment of your retirement fund.
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8. Claim the support you’re entitled to
There are various types of financial support available that many people fail to make use of.
Pension Credit is one example, with as many as one million eligible households missing out on an average £1,700 per year by not claiming it.
If you claim Pension Credit (or are over 75-years-old), you can also get a free TV licence.
It’s also worth noting that you can now get a tax refund if you’re working from home (or have worked at home at some point) as a direct result of the Coronavirus.
Do some research and find out what financial support you might be eligible to receive, but beware of any repayments you may have to make.
9. Clear excessive debt
Some people may not be in a position to do so this year, but others (those who continued to earn as normal throughout 2020) may have some spare cash saved up from not going on holidays abroad, eating out as often, and so on.
This money could be used to clear any debt you have built up over the last few years, to improve your creditworthiness and reduce the financial strain that you may be under.
Alternatively, you could at least organise your debt, perhaps using a personal finance app or a simple spreadsheet, to get everything in order and work out how and when you’ll be able to repay it.
10. Get cheaper car insurance
Car insurance is one of the most expensive bills we face each year, but it’s an unavoidable cost that all motorists must pay as it is legally required to be able to drive on UK roads.
You can save hundreds of pounds on car insurance by comparing quotes and switching providers, so why not get started today?
For further money-related advice and tips, check out our handy guide below!
- How to Improve Your Credit Score UK
- Meerkat Movies: How to get 2-for-1 cinema tickets every week for a year for just £1
- Borrowers Confused about Payment Holidays and Impact on Credit Score
- How to Live on a Budget and Save Money
- What to Buy and What Not to Buy With a Credit Card
- Banks and Building Societies Given 6 Months to Prepare for Negative Interest Rates
- How to Organise Your Finances for 2021
- SCAM ALERT - National Insurance Number Phone Calls