For most people, living on a reduced income can be difficult to manage, especially with little time to prepare. The furlough scheme allows some staff to get paid if they cannot work, with the government funding 80% of salaries, up to £2,500 a month before tax. Employers can top up the remaining 20%, but they don’t have to. If you’re having to adjust to a new income, read our ten tips to help you cut back on your living expenses and save money.
A budget can help you work out the shortfall between your income and spending, as well as identify areas where you could save money. Start by working out your income with our handy budget calculator. You can then see if you have any savings you can use as a backup. Then list all the things you spend money on every month, plus any annual costs, starting with the essentials such as mortgage or rent, food and utility bills
Review all your utility bills and check whether you could get a better deal if you switch energy or broadband suppliers. Many local authorities are offering council tax holidays or extra support if you are unable to keep up payments due to coronavirus. However, this support is not readily available to all so it’s worth checking your eligibility using the Gov.uk checker. Also, if you are struggling to pay your utility bills, contact your provider to see what support they can offer.
You will probably be paying for services that you can’t use because of the guidance to stay at home and maintain social distancing.
Many public transport providers will allow you to cancel your season ticket if you’re not travelling to your workplace due to coronavirus. It’s worth getting in touch with your public transport provider to see if you can claim a refund on your season ticket. You can also ask for your gym membership to be frozen until they reopen. As all sporting events have been cancelled, TV services are also offering customers the option to pause their sports subscriptions.
While most suppliers are trying their best to get deliveries to customers, they should offer you a refund if they need to cancel your order. If you’ve paid for concerts or holidays that have been cancelled, see our travel disruption and cancelled events information to find out about your consumer rights.
As well as cutting costs, it’s worth seeing what services are being offered for free. For example, some mobile phone providers are offering free extra minutes or data to their customers. Several health and wellbeing apps are also offering free content and subscriptions during the outbreak.
Check whether you have insurance that could cover your mortgage, loan or credit card payments or replace some of your income. These policies include: payment protection insurance; accident, sickness and unemployment insurance; and income protection. They may have been offered with life assurance policies or when you took out your mortgage, card or loan.
If you’re worried about missing a credit card or loan repayment, contact your finance provider before it happens. They may be able to support you by offering a payment holiday or other options to ease the pressure temporarily.
If your income has been affected by coronavirus, you may be able to ask for a payment holiday on credit cards and repayment holidays on loans for up to three months. You need to be aware that the amount you owe will go up because you would still be charged interest during your payment or repayment holiday. Our customers can find more information and access the relevant forms here:
Similarly, you may be able to apply for a payment holiday of up to three months on your mortgage. A payment holiday is when you temporarily stop paying all or part of your mortgage. If you have a mortgage with us, you can apply online and get an answer within three to five working days. It is worth bearing in mind that interest will still be charged on mortgage payment holidays.
If you pay for your car on a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) agreement and are worried about meeting your repayments, contact your car finance company for help. If you are no longer using your car for work, you may also be able to reduce your car insurance premium if you remove ‘commuting use’ from your policy.
People are using the coronavirus outbreak to try new scams. Remember, we'll never call, text or email to ask you to move money, or for your banking details. And when you shop online, it's best to pay by card – that way you protect your cash. You can find more details on how to stay safe from scams on our Fraud Hub.