Have You Budgeted For Your Parents Care Home Fees?

As a ‘baby boomer’ (born in 1964) I knew that having children late in life meant I had to budget not only for my pension but also for the costs of university fees for my children.

What I suspect many of us born in that era did NOT expect was that the cost of our parents care home fees might also fall to us.

This is not an issue whilst our parents remain well and able to live relatively unassisted in their own home. But, once a care home is needed, the costs involved are significant.

Currently, the average cost of nursing home care in England and Wales is over £800 a week (or over £41,000 a year) per person.

This figure can be even higher in certain parts of the UK or where the elderly person’s needs are particularly severe or they need to go to a specialist Elderly Mentally Infirm home (for example if they have dementia).

Parents care home fees – what will they need to pay?

According to Age UK, currently, if your capital and income are above £23,250 it is likely that you will have to pay your care fees.

If your capital and income are under £23,250 you may get some help from your local council, but you will still need to contribute towards the fees – and the family home may be included in the calculation of assets depending on your circumstances.

To give you an idea, the value of your home will be included if your relative is going into permanent care – but not if, for example, their partner will remain living there.

And, as above, even if you do get help from the council, you may have to contribute to the cost of care from your capital until your assets fall to £17,000.

Even then, when this level is reached, you may still have to contribute something towards ongoing care costs.

You will, in any case, be subject to a means test to work out what you can afford – and this will depend on any income you currently receive.

The total amount you may have to pay is currently capped at £72,000 for the over 65s, but this amount is based on what your local health authority calculates the care is worth and does not include board and lodging costs.

You can find a good explanation here.

You can see that an individual’s entire life savings and assets can be spent in just a few months.

What is your parent is ill?

In the event that a parent suffers from a chronic, or life-threatening illness, funding may be available from the NHS which currently offers Continuing Health Care Funding which will pay the full cost of care
where the person’s need is primarily health-based.

The second type of NHS funding called “funded nursing care” is available where the individual has nursing needs and is looked after in a registered care home that employs registered nurses.

The NHS-funded nursing care rate was increased to £183.92 from 1 April 2020. This is the standard weekly rate per person but this will not cover all of the cost of care.

Care home fees vary depending on the area that you live in, the individual care home itself, plus your own personal financial circumstances. Costs average around £600 a week for a care home place and over £800 a week for a place in a nursing home.

Obtaining funding depends, of course, on meeting stringent NHS criteria.

What happens when the money runs out?

For most of us, we are looking at the sale of the family property and relying on our parents’ assets to be sufficient to give them the best quality care possible.

Once these assets have been used up, it is likely to be us who bear the financial burden, although some assistance may be available from your local authority.

You can see that if one of your parents needs to go into a care home but the other is well enough to stay put, there is a clear dilemma about whether or not the family home has to be sold.

Does the healthier parent come to live with you with all the extra costs that this would entail – extra heating, lighting and food costs, not to mention the cost involved in adapting parts of the home to make them safer for your mum or dad?

Balancing your monthly outgoings may be much more of a challenge and cutbacks will probably have to be made.

You may need a loan

Should you need financial assistance to help you carry out these home improvements and adaptations, you can consider borrowing up to £7,500 with a guarantor loan from a credit company.

A guarantor loan is a type of unsecured personal loan where you get a friend, colleague or family member to back up your application.  They must be someone who is willing to step in to pay your monthly repayments if you can’t pay.  You may find this additional safety net reassuring with so many demands on your purse from so many different directions!

Planning for the future

We never know what is around the corner and I think it is sensible to have a conversation with your parents as early as you can about their wishes and the financial implications of requiring residential care.

Having looked into the funding of care home fees, I am aware that this is something I will need to research in much greater detail so that we can make some sensible financial decisions as a family and consider how this may impact our budget.

The information I have given here is the tip of the iceberg and, as we know from previous UK budgets,  schemes such as this are prone to be frequently changed and thresholds altered.

This is a far better approach than having to deal with a sudden illness or even a bereavement whilst trying to decide whether their family home has to be sold or worrying where the extra money for your parents care home fees is going to come from.

As things stand, that anniversary cruise or funding your teen’s gap year may have to be put on ice, if the needs of your parents are greater – unless you prepare for the extra expense right now.

Tips To Make Sure You Don’t Break The Bank This Christmas

Christmas is the time of year when it’s easy to spend more than you can afford and, if you have kids, it’s tempting to buy them everything on their Christmas lists. This means that many of us find it a struggle to make ends meet at the start of a new year. Budgeting at Christmas has little appeal when there’s so much fun to be had but it really can make all the difference to how you start the new year.

These are just common sense, but here is a reminder of some simple things you can do to avoid emptying your wallet and maxing out your credit cards.

Write a List and Stick to it 

So easy to say but how many of us actually sit down and take the time to write a list? Whether you prefer handwritten or typed, there are so many apps and journals available to take the dullness out of what can be a bit of a chore. Make yourself a hot chocolate, get cosy and start writing.

How many of us mums remember to include ourselves on the list by the way?

Set a Budget

Budgeting at Christmas is key. Just jot down who you intend buying for, what you’re thinking of buying them, and the amount you’re thinking of spending on them.  This way it will be easy to see if you are likely to go over budget before you start online shopping or head out to town.

When you have an idea of how much you want to spend on each person, set a budget that you can afford. If you think money is going to be tight, work out where you can cut back on your occasional spending or be ruthless with who really should be on the gift list.

You might also want to talk to your immediate family to agree on an upper financial limit to gifts or perhaps restricting gift-giving, as my sister and I do, to our kids and just giving each other a bottle of wine.

You don’t really need to give gifts to relatives you see once a year, I think and certainly don’t go mad for friends who wouldn’t put themselves out for you.  Very often I think we spend out of guilt or in an attempt to win friendship.  That very rarely works.

The other thing that can swallow up your cash if you’re not careful is stocking fillers for the kids and pets, as well as advent calendars.

Again, budgeting at Christmas can make all the difference.

Start shopping as early in the year as possible

The earlier you start putting money towards your budget in the year, the better you’ll feel when it’s time to go Christmas shopping. Yes, Christmas shopping in August can be depressing, but it all helps to avoid being broke during the new year.

It’s also a good idea to have a review of your finances in July to see what other bills are looming and how much realistically you can free up for Christmas.

Don’t forget the ‘incidentals’

It’s a cliche but true nevertheless that it is the thought that counts but remember that the smallest amounts can really add up.  It’s not just the gift, is it?  There’s cards, wrapping paper, gift boxes and bags, postage and even fuel to deliver them in person.

There are always those things that you forget to buy and end up desperately scrabbling around your corner shop at 4 pm on Christmas Eve.

You can find lots of helpful gift lists online if you need some inspiration and Pinterest is a great place to look.

Gift wrapped with handmade paper and adorned with a sprig of spruce and a fir cone

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Use credit wisely

Obtaining a credit account is an option, although you’ll need to proceed with caution because too much credit and particularly defaulting on payments will have a negative on your credit score.  This might mean being turned down for important loans in the future – for example, a mortgage.

The question is, can you trust yourself to make all the repayments on time, without incurring compound interest and late payment fees?

You may be able to spread the cost of Christmas by shopping with some of the catalogue stores who offer credit accounts but make sure you know what you are getting into and if the credit is interest-free.  Otherwise, the cost of your purchase will be much higher than the advertised price.

Compare Prices

Before buying something, compare prices in different stores first to see if you can get it any cheaper. Every little helps, especially at this time of year.  Do try to support smaller businesses and your local traders.  This year is going to be a tough Christmas trading period for lots of the smaller retailers and crafts folk who are fighting the might of Amazon and the like.

My personal feeling is that if we don’t start to support our local traders then the high street as we know it may well just disappear and, much as I enjoy the convenience of internet shopping, there is nothing like the experience of Christmas shopping in a shop – if you are prepared and sensibly dressed for it that is!

Get creative and make your own gifts

Why not get creative and make some stuff yourself? This will save you a ton of money, and people will appreciate the thought and effort you’ve put into their gifts a lot more. You could make a food hamper, pamper hamper, cupcakes, a canvas, or anything else you can think of.

Give to Charity

I think it’s fair to say that charities have had as tough a year as the retailers and my personal preference is to support the smaller, local charities where I can see that my donations are actually making a difference.

If you want to give a gift to someone who has everything and is a supporter of a particular charity, why not give to charity in their name? Of course, there are plenty of charity Christmas cards but I find that more and more of us are relying on email and texts.  It’s not the same, though, is it?

I hope these tips will serve as a useful reminder that, with a bit of planning and budgeting, you can take control of your Christmas spending and avoid the stress of wondering when the credit card bills and email reminders will start appearing.

And don’t forget that you deserve a gift too – if it’s only some time out for pampering and whatever form of self-care works for you.

Will You End 2019 Richer Or Poorer? Time To Plan Your Financial Year

Getting to grips with family finance is really important now that the UK economy is so unsettled by the ongoing BREXIT negotiations.  Some mums are even stockpiling tinned foods and medication because they fear lots of their staples will vanish if no deal is reached. Has there ever been a more uncertain time in recent memory for family finance?

Readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of budgeting and putting a bit aside for a rainy day. This is something that the Husband and I drill into the kids on a daily basis.

Financial Planning - pile of pens and coins

There’s nothing like teaching them the power of anticipation and the value of saving up for the things they really want.

But now, more than ever, it’s time to get to grips with our cash and to plan for as stable a 2019 as possible by setting solid financial goals.

I think I inherited my financial caution from my parents.  I can still hear dad’s voice behind me when about to squander my pocket money on a copy of Jackie or some Black Jack chews (4 for a penny!). “You don’t really need that, do you?” he used to say.

Mum and Dad were both born in 1939 just in time for World War II and having experienced rationing their attitude to saving is a lot more stringent than that of most Millennials.

When you’re young you always think you’ll live forever and you really can’t envisage the day when you’ll need your pension – or what desperate circumstance might arise when you’ll need to get your hands on some cash quickly.

Financial planning - Ieuan adding Minecraft to the family weekly shopping list
Minecraft is Ieuan’s number one shopping item

When you become a homeowner (which is increasingly looking a rather remote possibility for Caitlin and Ieuan), it is often a bit of a shock to be landed with bills for replacing a boiler, rewiring the electrics or fixing a leaky roof!

Equally, though, you don’t want to spend your life always worrying about whether you should be enjoying yourself.  We are only here once (depending on your personal beliefs of course).

Life is too short to wallow in guilt about treating yourself occasionally.

Planning your financial year is the answer.

It’s time to pick up our pens and planners (some of us still haven’t got to grips with Google spreadsheets) and create a budget which will cushion us against financial shocks whilst still adding a frisson of excitement to 2019.

And I’m sure we are all looking forward to a more exciting and happier year than 2018 which seemed to chiefly feature BREXIT and the looming nightmare of Donald Trump.

I am 55 this year and those of us over 50 are aware that retirement is, if not exactly looming on the horizon, something that needs thinking about.  Saving is pretty critical in these years and you really don’t want to be dipping into your savings pot to fund large items of expenditure.

I’m sure most of us don’t want to start taking out large, and often expensive, loans either.

One way to release funds for things such as home improvements like a conservatory or adapting a property to meet mobility needs, or that long-promised cruise, is by equity release.

Now obviously you will want to make sure that you take independent financial advice to look at your finances as a whole and to plug any gaps which might need urgent attention – especially your pension and possibly funeral planning.

But equity release may well work for you. This is where you obtain funds derived from the value of your property whilst still being allowed to live there.

Saga helps those over 55 with its equity release service and, used sensibly, this can help you gain greater control over your finances.  Make sure you do your research first before signing on the dotted line.

So, what action points are on the Hobbis Family’s planner?

Financial planning - Caitlin writes out the family financial plan
Caitlin plans to raise money by selling the family’s endless supply of coat hangers

Our Family Finance Goals For 2019

Here’s our top 5.

Plan for Christmas

Still far and away our biggest expense.  This year we’re trying to save £3 a day up to the first of December which should give us £996.

Pay Off Our Holidays

We have two weeks in Devon booked with Toad Hall Cottages and need to pay off the balance around March.

If our funds will stretch I’d like to take an extra week towards the end of the summer holidays (when everyone is in dire need of something to remove the boredom and boost the spirits!).

I’d also look to have a few shorter breaks and take a lot more day trips.

Budget for carpet

Just the word tends to make my soul sink but it has to be done.  We took all the carpet up hoping that wood floors would help with allergies and reduce dust.

They do, but the house creaks in the night like an old galleon and it’s impossible to creep about without risking waking the kids.

Plus we’re hoping to dampen the sound of our next door neighbour’s occasional belief that he lives in a night club in Ibiza and ramps up the volume of his stereo accordingly.

We’ll make sure we time our purchase around bank holidays and general sale periods when there are often great deals to be had.

Reduce our food bills

The key to this is menu planning and shopping list writing. It’s something I’m still trying to discipline myself to do.

Otherwise, it’s too easy to wander around Tesco throwing ‘things you fancy for tea’ in a trolley which, 9 times out of 10, wouldn’t make a nutritionist very happy.

Then there’s Ieuan’s “Mr Kipling” habit but since Mr Kipling’s cakes are rapidly reducing to the size of microdots, it might be time to get baking again.

Save more by using vouchers and discount codes

If you avoid impulse buying and plan your purchases sensibly you can often save by buying through cash-back sites like Topcashback which is free to use.

So that’s our top 5. I think it’s a good idea to sit down with the family (and the kids!) and discuss financial objectives for the year.

It’s never too soon for little ones to grasp that their parents have to work for their money and that there are some things which have to be paid for before Roblox, Minecraft and anything with a puppy printed on it.

Have you planned your financial year yet?  What difference do you think BREXIT has made to your decisions surrounding family finance?

*Collaborative Post

Is Your Attitude To Money Affecting Your Relationship?

There’s no doubt that whilst infidelity is an obvious cause of relationships biting the dust, it’s certainly not the only one.  Being aware of how money affects relationships can help you handle both your finances and your romances in a way that helps keep that interest generating!

money affects relationships - graffiti on an old stone wall saying "until debt tear us apart"

Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

Your attitude to money is imprinted pretty early on from your childhood experiences.  My parents were born in 1939 just in time for World War II and it’s safe to say that this experience has coloured their attitude to money right up until the present moment.  If you’ve experienced rationing,  running amok with a credit card is unlikely to happen – at least in our family.

Having spent many years as a happily single working girl in legal services, I quickly found that maintaining control over my finances was crucial.  With my family background of ‘save as much as possible for a rainy day’, I made sure I covered all the basics – mortgage, insurance, council tax, utilities etc.  I remember I had a couple of friends who could not for the life of them understand why I didn’t just plunder my savings and go off around Europe.  Adulting is often all about making serious choices, isn’t it?

As my earnings rose, however, a curious thing started to happen and I found several dates who were decidedly put off by the fact that I earned more than they did.

I also discovered that some of my girlfriends ranked a man’s earning capacity to be a primary factor in his attractiveness.  Needless to say, law firm partners were considered eminently desirable even if they had the personality of a sock.

It was becoming pretty clear that money affects relationships to an often greater extent than fidelity does.  In fact, just a few weeks ago in January, The Independent newspaper published an article stating that money worries are the number one reason for ending a marriage.  Given that the average cost of a UK marriage was £27,000 in 2017  I’d say that’s a pretty good reason for discussing finances as early on in a relationship as possible!

In fact, mutual Shepherds Friendly Society recently commissioned research to look at how money affects relationships and partnered up with psychologist and relationship expert, Dr Becky Spelman, a highly experienced counselling psychologist, to find out more about the power money can hold on relationships.

The survey asked respondents a few taboo questions, such as who should pay on date night and whether you would break up with your partner if they became bankrupt. Gender and age group differences were taken into account and then Dr Spelman analysed the data and offered her thoughts and advice on how to deal with the knotty issue of money in relationships.

You can read the research and advice here:  https://www.shepherdsfriendly.co.uk/your-resource-centre/how-does-money-impact-relationships and it’s worth checking out because there are one or two surprises.

One such surprising result was that more men than women think men should pay on date night but more women feel that men should split the bill.  Amongst same-sex couples, however, the consensus was that whoever initiated the date should pay the bill.

This is a regular issue amongst heterosexual couples on my problem page and whilst I agree that it’s a nice gesture for men to pay for the first date, it is only fair for future date-night bills to be shared, particularly if one of you earns far more than the other.

What many men seem to dislike, however, is the sense of entitlement some women have that they should pay for everything.  I have even answered questions from ladies who wanted to dump their partners because the restaurants they were taken to weren’t posh enough!

And how about this finding from the Shepherds Friendly research? More women than men agree that individuals are not responsible for their partner’s debt.

You can just see that one coming back to bite somebody on the bottom, can’t you?!  If you don’t know what your partner is spending their money on (arguably your money too if you live together), then you may be in for a few shocks if they lose their job or the debts start to mount up.

Ironically, as Dr Spelman points out, the number of respondents who would leave their partner in the event of a bankruptcy, was very close to the number of respondents who didn’t believe in sharing financial information with them.  It’s clear that communication surrounding money has to be a priority for a healthy long-term relationship.

In these challenging economic times,  it seems that to keep the romance alive, more and more of us are having to use our heads when it comes to money – to protect our financial future – and our hearts!

Ways To Avoid Debt As A Millennial

Life is difficult for millennials. Not only are they frequently frowned upon by the majority of the seniors, but they’re also pretty broke most of the time.

Man counting his cash

And how can they not be, when the cost of living has skyrocketed, and jobs just don’t pay enough? Let alone all the pressure to have the latest tech gadgets and fashion-forward attire to look stylish at all times. It’s no wonder they’re broke. They have expensive tastes and not enough cash to afford the lifestyle.

Whilst it’s easy to work out the reason why many millennials don’t have two pennies to rub together, at some point they need to take the responsible approach and listen to constructive criticism and advice, to help them along their challenging journey, and ultimately avoid the dreaded word – DEBT.

So, if this is you, instead of having your mum nag you about how to keep your finances in check, in order to save you the torture here a list of ways to help yourself avoid the millstone of debt.  

Avoid Student Loans

Student loans, as great as they sound, are a long-term debt trap. If you are desperate to study, rather look into scholarships, grants or other ways of financial assistance. The interest rates on student loans are much higher than any other type of bank loan, and most students take years and years to repay them. You don’t want this type of payment hanging over your head because more often than not, banks refuse to decrease the monthly payments, even if you have a good reason for the asking for the reduction.

Get a Job

Even if it’s a freelance job, do something that brings in an income. It doesn’t have to be a job that you make a long-term career out of; it just needs to be something that’s sufficient and stable enough to support your expenses. Living off your parents is no way to live, and you’ll feel a whole lot better when you’re financially independent. Although jobs are difficult to find, there are many career-guidance organisations and recruitment agencies that take one’s skills into consideration. Write up a good CV, identify a great recruitment agency, and get on your way to financial freedom and independence!

Save some Cash for a Rainy Day

Save save save, as tedious as it sounds. We all know how difficult it is to save, most have us have trouble with money burning a hole in our pockets, but saving will literally save you when you find yourself in a sticky situation. Whether you save £10 during the month, or £1000, save something!

 

Hand placing a coin into a pink piggybank

 Reduce Credit Purchasing

At such a young age, one shouldn’t need a credit card. It’s a very dangerous route to take, and if you lack exceptional self-discipline, you’re going to have a hard time with debt. Credit cards have the word debt written all over them because the money just adds up when you’re not looking! So, if you’re able to purchase on credit, do so only when there is a huge need for it, and make a pact with yourself that you’ll only resort to this method of spending once every two months or less.

Make Use of Finance Apps

There are plenty of amazing apps, right at your fingertips, which can either help you to avoid debt, track your expenses, budget correctly or help you to save.

Check out apps such as Wally, Acorns, You Need a Budget or Mint, and take advantage of their super useful, user-friendly services. They help you make sound decisions such as what to invest in, how to go about ensuring your vehicle or house is not rejected for insurance, and so much more.

  Smart phone screen showing apps

 Be Honest with Yourself and Your Friends

Don’t feel bad to pass up a night out on the town, because you don’t have cash to blow. It may sound difficult to do, but it’ll take a lot of pressure off of you if you’re upfront and honest with the people around you. You also need to be honest with yourself and ask yourself where your priorities lie. It’s also important to realise that a fun night out will come around again and putting yourself in the debt seat, just for some socialising, is not the way to go.

Get Help from a Financial Advisor if You Need Further Advice

If you feel like you’re entering a downward spiral of bad decisions and see yourself getting caught up in a financial mess, talk to a professional who can offer you expert advice, when it comes to handling your money. It’s never too late to ask for help.  At the end of the day, that’s their job, and they’ll be more than happy to assist. There is nothing wrong with a debt review, and it will help make planning for your financial future clearer.

As daunting as it all sounds, these are, in fact, the easiest ways to avoid debt and if you give these steps a try, you’ll realise it’s not all that difficult to manage your money. The trick is to make a habit out of good, responsible decisions so you can enjoy occasionally treat yourself to the things you enjoy without the guilt – and without taking months and years to pay for them.

Can’t Stop Yourself Impulse Buying On Special Occasions?

How many times have you set a carefully crafted budget and, convinced you’ve thought of everything, set off towards a secure (you think) fiscal future only to find that bam, you’ve forgotten someone’s birthday, your anniversary, or your sister’s cat’s third birthday. Or, do you get so carried away with the excitement of the occasion that you forget you ought to control your spending?

It’s not what we regularly spend that causes us the biggest headaches, is it?  It’s the occasional spending. And, as you can see from the infographic below, we Brits spend a whole heap of cash on those events which crop up each year – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day – even though we could budget for them if we remembered!

Rein in your impulse buying on special occasions

So what’s the answer?  Here are 5 top tips to control your spending:-

Set a limit

Agree up front the maximum you will spend on birthday presents and whether, in fact, all members of the family still want to swop gifts. If you hardly ever see each other, do you need to splash out on big gifts when a card and perhaps a gift voucher for a nominal value would do? Children’s parties are a particular danger zone.

Use your diary

Diarise when you need to order flowers etc. for Mother’s Day and check the voucher sites well in advance to see if there are any deals – could you find an alternative gift much cheaper on Groupon, Wowcher or Topcashback?

Make your own gifts

Even if you are hopeless at crafts, you could still make jams or chutneys, bake a cake or make flavoured oils in pretty bottles. In this post you’ll find some great ideas for low or no cost homemade gifts.

Celebrate on the day either side of the event in question

Dine out either side of the day in question.  We all know that restaurants inflate their prices for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.  Why not book the day (or weekend) before Valentine’s Day or the Saturday before Mother’s Day?  You’re more likely to find a babysitter too – and lot’s of sitters won’t take bookings on these special days either.

Buy gifts when you see them

Buy gifts when you see them, rather than start shopping close to the event.  Canny shoppers have got this down to a fine art – starting their Christmas shopping in the January sales.  The rest of us could learn a lot from them.

You’ll typically find unusual and more unique gifts in places like National Trust or museum gift shops or the craft shops on your summer holidays.  If all else fails, a gift card for the restaurant you know they’ll love will always be welcome – if you know it will be used relatively soon on receipt.

I think the most important thing to note is that you do not have to participate in the various seasonal events which are frequently designed by marketers to part the unwary shopper from their case.  You can still observe the sentiment of the day in question without forking out for gifts which will probably end up still in their packaging in a drawer somewhere.

As long as you are upfront with your relatives about the fact that you are cutting back on your spending and don’t expect them to reciprocate either, all should be well.

You may well find they are fed up of forking out for events like these too.

I love ‘occasional’ days because I see them as a chance to celebrate what it means to be a family (or a partner) and lord knows some days it seems to be a very gloomy old world.

But going into debt to do this is madness when you are watching every penny.

How do you control your spending – especially for events like birthdays and Christmas?

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Taking care of your family finances during the 5 year squeeze

With the negotiations for BREXIT ongoing, the UK economy seems to be see-sawing as a result of a climate of political and economic uncertainty. One thing’s for sure though – as a nation we are still heavily in debt and family budgeting will be more important than ever.

The Government’s plans to reduce this deficit have resulted in the threat of both increased taxes and spending cuts. Whilst there is hope that the deficit could be eradicated by 2022, the steps needed to reduce it are likely to have a considerable effect on family finances – meaning we have to tighten our belts harder than ever.

Calculator on a table with coins blurred in the distance

As such, we all need to know how to save a little bit of extra money to see us through the next 5 years. By following these simple tips from icount, you will be on the road to success and be saving your family money before you know it.

Be open to change

The first tip to saving yourself a bit of cash is to be prepared to shop elsewhere. We all know supermarkets love to compete with one another and at times, prices on our family’s favourite products can rise and drop at different times. It isn’t just supermarkets that do this, either! When you’re aware of it, you’ll notice that many retail stores hike up or reduce their prices, depending on what their competitors are doing at the time.

To make sure you’re getting your shopping for the best bargain prices, be open to comparing supermarket and retail stores as you go, to get the best deal you can. Websites such as mysupermarket.co.uk help to make this a lot easier and don’t forget to check out voucher codes before you buy online.

Make sure to make the most out of card points supermarkets and cosmetic stores give you as it saves money in the long run, and you may even get some items free!

30 minutes of money management

Whether it’s as soon as you get in from work one day, or between the Coronation Street double bill, take a tiny 30 minutes every month to work through your finances and save yourself a bit of money.

Whether it’s finding a better savings account to the one you already have, or considering ways to better budget your spending, there’s always something that can be done to improve your finances and prepare your family for the future.

Jar full of various coins
Image credit: Ota Photos

A penny goes a long way

Put some money in a jar every month, to go towards unexpected payments or bills that are a little higher than normal. That way you won’t feel as though you are paying for costly additions to your month out of your everyday spending money.

Over time, this once small savings pot could quickly become a rather large rainy day fund. If you manage to save up quite a lot of money with these small monthly additions, think about opening a savings account specifically for this. Look for a savings account that you cannot open unless it’s an emergency. It will prevent you from taking money out and it keeps it aside for the most important of times.

Additionally, keep a jar of loose pennies in that you know you will not spend. After a few months of collecting, take them into your local bank – you never know how many notes you could get back!

No use, get rid!

Find that you have a load of unwanted things in your house? Why not organise a car boot sale and sell old things you no longer want. Not only could it give you a small financial boost, it gives your unwanted goods to other people that may benefit from them.

Car boot sales are a good way to spend a morning every once in a while, to make a few pounds and help someone else out.  Just make sure you don’t get rid of everything that has some sentimental value.  Some things are too precious to get rid of.

Introduce the money management rule of thumb

It’s said that 50% of your monthly finances should go towards vital payments, 30% should be kept for you to spend and the final 20% should be put into your savings pot. It might seem a little strict to manage your money in this way but it will certainly benefit you during these tough few years and thereafter.

Spread the word

Tell your children. Encourage them to stick to a budget when buying sweets or toys. Emphasise the point of not spending all of your money at once and saving a little bit for another day.

Perhaps you could open a savings account for your children to get them started? Even just £2 a week will help and give them something to build on, and it will also teach them the importance of money management and saving, ready for the uncertain times ahead.

Selection of sweets in little white dishes
Image credit: Pexels

Simplify your shopping

Try to write out a shopping list before you go shopping, this way it will make you less likely to spontaneously buy items you do not necessarily need. Decide on a budget before you head out and add up the price of your items as you go so that you know how much you’ve spent when you approach the tills.

By following these simple steps you will be on the way to helping your family immediately, and you will definitely save more than you think. Remember, saving is key and family budgeting will hopefully help you weather the storm.

How To Take Control Of Your Family Finances

Your family’s financial health should be one of your top priorities. Whether you have one child or five children, raising them all the way up to age 21 can be expensive. If you want to ensure that you have healthy finances for the future, here’s what you need to do.

Put Money Into Savings And Forget About It 

If you don’t have money in a savings account, you’re effectively living paycheck to paycheck. You should be putting money into a savings account and forgetting about it, ready for a rainy day.

Choosing a savings account with a good interest rate is best. You can also decide to invest money in things like stocks, property, and shares, but you need to be prepared to wait for your returns.

Find Ways To Bring In More Money 

How can you bring in more money? There are so many ways you can bring in money using the internet. However, you can also rent out your driveway, sell things you no longer need, and do other things offline to ensure you’re topping up your earnings.

Create A Budget And Stick To It 

Being wealthy is not only about how much money you bring in, but how much of it you can keep.
Make sure you create a family budget and stick to it. This budget may need to change depending on different circumstances, but you should have a good knowledge of your numbers to begin.

The following infographic can give you more helpful tips on what to do!


credit to family budget

5 Ways To Improve Your Credit Score

It’s fair to say that a new tax year doesn’t exactly evoke the same levels of excitement, nor inspiration for ‘new starts’, as a new calendar year. In truth, unless you file tax returns or are juggling ISAs, it’s a bit of a non-event.

How to improve your credit score - man checking their credit card balance online

But it is as good a time as any do a financial health check, and one important component of this is your credit score.

After all, if getting a mortgage, applying for finance to purchase a car or gaining any other types of loans in the future is something that could be a part of the plan, then it is well worth putting a bit of thought into how you can get your ducks in a row with regard to your credit file.

And the good news is it’s not really very labour intensive at all. Here are some quick and easy ways to boost your credit rating…

1. Check it!

The first port of call is to check your credit file. You can sign up with credit reference agencies like Noddle or ClearScore for free, and although the score itself may seem a bit arbitrary, you can quickly gather how well you are doing in a relative sense. More importantly, you’ll also get a breakdown of what is counting in your favour, and what isn’t.

If you see anything you suspect is incorrect, it’s important that you act. You can either contact the relevant company or take things further with a ‘notice of correction’. Bear in mind that any ‘blemishes’ will stay on your credit file for up to six years, so you certainly don’t want to be dragged down by any inaccuracies.

2. Register to vote

The next UK General Election may not be scheduled until May 2022 but who knows what will happen before then – especially with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding BREXIT.  It doesn’t matter which way you vote – or if you even vote at all – but it is vital that you register yourself on the electoral roll. For lenders, it’s a means of proving your address and ID, which would firm up any application for credit. It takes just a few minutes to register, and you can do it by clicking here.

3. Use your credit card wisely

In the eyes of lenders, having no credit is every bit as bad as having poor credit. A credit card is thus one of the best means to demonstrate that you can manage debt sensibly. Use it each month, but be sure to clear the balance each time. If you’re already juggling high balances, then put all your energies into whittling these down – not only by setting money aside each month but also by looking into things like consolidation loans or 0 per cent balance transfers. Ultimately the aim is to have as high a limit as possible but to use as little of it as you can.

4. Be careful when you apply for credit

Each time you apply for a loan or some other form of credit, it leaves a footprint on your file as a result of what’s known as a ‘hard search’ by the lender. Too many footprints can indicate excessive hunger for credit or desperation in the eyes of lenders, which will thus do you harm. So when shopping around, be sure to use things like free eligibility calculators, and ensure that any quotes you apply for won’t leave a mark on your credit file. The website will typically indicate this beforehand.

5. Other bits of good practice

There are other little things you can do to help the cause. Get a mobile phone contract (if you don’t have one already). Don’t ever withdraw cash from a credit card. Stay away from payday loans. Avoid excessive online gambling. Cancel any unused credit or store cards. And focus on getting any debt you may have under control. They may all sound like minor things, but all these small gains can really help your cause when the time to apply for credit comes. Good practice now will see you reap the benefits later.

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Thinking Of Taking Out Finance: What Are Your Options?

You can’t always afford to pay for the things you want outright. A home improvement, new car or holiday could all stretch to hundreds or thousands of pounds – and about 40 per cent of people have less than £500 in savings.

mobile phone and credit card on table

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So, when a big ticket purchase comes along, what can you do? It’s important to weigh up your options and see which is the best deal for you.

Here are the options that you can typically turn to:

Personal loan: With this option, you apply to a lender to get a sum, which is normally several thousand pounds. The lender will need to approve your application and will do this, in part at least, by looking at your credit rating. This is usually paid back over a couple of years at an agreed interest rate. This form of finance allows you to sign up to a clear contract in which you know how much you’ll pay back each month and in total. You can use a loan calculator to be sure about the amount you’ll pay.

Payday loans: Slightly different from personal loans, payday loans are intended to tide you over until your wages come into your account. They are typically given for small amounts and carry a very high-interest rate because they are intended to be paid back very quickly.

Overdraft: If you spend more money than you actually have in your bank account then you’ll dip into your overdraft. You need to have permission from the bank to be able to do this, but most banks will allow you a limited amount of money by way of overdraft and some won’t charge you for using this. It’s important to check with your bank and you can talk to them and ask to extend this if you are finding that your current agreed limit is insufficient. This should be seen as a short term option – perhaps when you’re awaiting a payday – and you shouldn’t just treat your overdraft as ‘extra money’ in your account.

Credit card: This little plastic friend can get you out of a hole and allow you to buy something you cannot afford outright. These will come with a credit limit – the maximum you can spend on the card – and might carry interest and charges if you don’t pay the money back in full by a certain date. Many lenders will offer introductory interest-free offers, which makes these attractive, short term forms of lending.

Store cards: These products are similar to credit cards – but are linked to one store or chain of stores. Store cards might offer rewards for your loyalty – such as cashback or money off vouchers – but they might also carry a higher interest rate than credit cards.

Credit unions: These are smaller co-operatives, aiming to ‘do good’ for the community by lending to those in need. They tend to offer smaller amounts – £3,000 or lower – and can only charge a maximum of 3% a month interest.

Peer-to-peer lending: This has become popular in recent years as a new way to access finance. It involves individuals providing finance for lenders through websites that are set up purely to match one to the other. They are able to get a better interest rate than they would in a savings account, while the borrower typically pays less than they would for getting a personal loan. There is, however, less protection for both parties than dealing with a bank or building society.

Staying Afloat In A Rising Tide Of Debt: Practical Tips That Will Give You a Lifeline

From time to time, we all go through periods when everything seems to be against us, and we just can’t make our money stretch far enough.

One minute you’re fine, the next you’re wondering what else could possibly go wrong. If you’re trying to stay afloat in a rising tide of debt, these practical tips will hopefully provide you with a lifeline. Stay strong. There are ways of getting out of debt, and getting your life back on track.

Image credit

Budgeting for life’s expenses

In life, there are certain things that are more costly than others. Planning a wedding, buying a house, raising children, caring for a pet, and running a car all cost money. Sometimes, being a responsible adult is an incredibly expensive business.

It’s wise to budget, even when you’re not anticipating parting with large sums of money. If you draw up a budget every month, it gives you a clear picture of how your finances are looking, and reduces your risk of overspending. Budgeting is even more essential when you’re saving for a deposit, buying wedding dresses, titanium rings, and top hats and tails, and paying for new school uniforms. If you’ve got an expensive few months ahead, make sure you get to grips with the sums.

Taking out and paying back loans

Many of us take out loans to cover unexpected costs or help towards home improvements, buying a new car or paying for a honeymoon.

If you are considering borrowing money, don’t rush into making a decision. It’s essential to compare offers you have on the table, and to ensure that you understand the terms of the agreement, and what it means for your finances going forward.

Make sure you can afford the repayments. If you fall behind, this can affect your credit rating, and you may face legal action. Once the repayment schedule begins, factor this into your budget. Try and avoid taking out loans with very high interest rates. You’ll end up paying much more than you borrowed, and you may find it difficult to keep up with the repayments.

Asking for help

If you’re in debt, the sooner you ask for help, the better. Debt can spiral out of control rapidly, and before you know it, it’s affecting every aspect of your life. See a financial adviser, and they will be able to help you to draw up a strategy.

If you work for yourself and find yourself running into difficulty, don’t forget to ask your accountants for advice.  Their experience will stretch further than just business matters and they may be able to help in the restructuring of your debt and with the putting in place of plans to help your business survive this tricky period.

If you have multiple debts, it may be advisable to take out a debt consolidation loan. Another option is to investigate an IVA (individual voluntary arrangement). Don’t be an ostrich. If you bury your head in the sand, the amount you owe will only increase. Sadly, this is one of those problems that won’t simply disappear with time.

A growing number of people are in debt. It’s always best to try and prevent getting into trouble, and budgeting is a really useful tool. If you’re already in debt, try and nip the problem in the bud. If you can clear debts quickly, there’s a much lower risk of you coming unstuck. When you’re in debt, you often find that the issue gets worse very quickly because of late payment and interest fees. Ask for help, and try and be open and honest with the people closest to you.

Starting Your Nest Egg Late in the Shadow of Brexit

The Brexit vote reverberated loudly across Britain. We are still dealing with the aftermath of the shock of it all. Everyone was affected in some way but it seems none were more immediately affected by Brexit than those who have already retired.

Man at computer surrounded by investment books

Declining value in savings

As part of their savings strategy, many retirees had IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) and savings in the pound. Post-Brexit, they have seen their portfolios decrease in value when the pound fell after the Brexit vote. The decline in the value of the pound has largely levelled off at the moment, but the overall value of the currency has not rebounded. The consequence of this is many retirees holding IRAs that will likely not see growth for quite some time.

What if you’re behind on your retirement savings? How can you catch up in the shadow of Brexit when your time is getting short? Don’t despair: there are steps you can take to get your retirement back on track.

Protect what you have

No one can say for certain what Britain’s economic future will look like. No government exit plan has yet been unveiled. Those who have already retired or have begun a savings portfolio need to first take steps to protect the investments they have. The best way to do that is to diversify your portfolio. This includes investments in economies outside of Britain.

Section of a Euro banknote

Increase your savings

You’ll need to put aside as much as you can if you’ve gotten behind on your retirement savings. You can calculate how much you can expect from your state pension and how much you’ll need to spend each year to maintain the lifestyle you want.

Once you have your figures in hand, look at how much you’re saving each month, then find a way to increase it by as much as you possibly can.

If your employer offers a pension plan, increase your contributions each month. If it is a plan that includes employer matching contributions, you need to put as much as possible into this fund.

Clear your debts

It is just common sense that your money will go further if you don’t have a pile of debts to pay on each month. One way to help catch up if you’re behind on your retirement savings is to pay off your debts as quickly as possible, then take the funds you would normally pay out to debts and add them to your retirement savings.

Downsizing can help

One strategy many people use is to plan to include the value of their homes as part of their retirement. Take a critical look at your home. Do you really need that much space in retirement? If not, consider selling it. Or converting all or part of it into rental property. Renting will give you an additional income in retirement.

With the final stages of Brexit still on the horizon and the continued uncertainty of the repercussions of that historic vote, the best course of action for the people of Britain is simple: don’t panic. Guard your savings through diversifying your portfolio. The rest of the best advice falls along a simple line of reasoning: use some common sense measures and you can weather this Brexit storm.