Frank Conway, financial literacy expert and founder of MoneyWhizz identifies an approach for staying on top of your finances.1
As we slowly emerge from the Covid-19 emergency lockdown, it is important you take the time to protect your financial wellbeing and maintaining any level of financial resilience you may have in place. While the restrictions put in place to protect public health are slowly easing, the health risks associated with COVID-19 have not gone away, and neither have the economic ones.
Since nobody can predict with any certainty as to when, or even if, we will be able to return to ‘normal’, we should plan according. The tips and tricks that boost one’s personal financial wellbeing in good times are doubly important when times are challenging, like now.
1: Be vigilant; phase your way out of your spending lockdown
As the national lockdown measures are eased, one may be tempted to relax their spending habits too! If that is the case, they should do so with a measure of caution.
The phased reopening of the country gives us all a little room to breathe again! However, as easing of lockdowns and Covid-19 measures kick in, it is important to know exactly what your financial situation is. This will help you spend with confidence and to allow you to cover your priority expenses and plan for future spends.
2: Prioritise your expenses
Every household will have a different spending situation and some expenses are more important than others.
If your income was reduced during the Covid-19 lockdown, if you availed of the special Covid19 payment or, if you applied for and received a payment break on a mortgage or other loan, it is important to work out your most important bills and plan a path to take care of them once they start to become due again.
A current account statement is an excellent starting point as it will highlight the majority of spending by way of direct debits and also, debit card transactions. Then review your credit card statement using these as a guide, to question any expenses that may not be priority presently. If you can reduce non-essential spending, do so.
3: Keep up-to-date with repayment due dates
Many lenders made payment breaks available to their customers. However, such measures are temporary in nature so it is important that people are aware of how a resumption of regular payments will impact them and their household budgets.
Start your planning for making mortgage and other loan repayments again. If you feel that this could present a problem, make contact with your lender. Getting in touch may mean your lender may be able to help you.
4: Free up extra money if you can
As part of our Financial Wellbeing programme we encourage our colleagues and customers to save up several months of day-to-day living expenses into an emergency fund to protect their financial wellbeing.
However, despite our emergence from the lockdown, these continue to be extraordinary times.
If you require access to credit and loans, use them wisely.
For example, when it comes to credit card balances, you will have a range of repayment options, including paying the entire balance in full, paying off a large portion of the balance or paying using the minimum payment option.
If you remain out of work for a protracted period of time, even as others return, you may consider seeking support from family or friends, but do so with caution. Some people may have very limited financial cushions to support others.
5: The Bank of Ireland Financial Wellbeing Hub
The Bank of Ireland financial wellbeing hub is available to support colleagues, customers and the wider community. The hub includes online tools and a library to provide a full range of free supports to help to build financial resilience and protect financial wellbeing, especially in these difficult times.Take a Financial Wellbeing Healthcheck