For many of us, working out our budget is the least fun part of the month. Whether you are a single bachelor or a mum of three, it feels as if life is becoming more expensive for everyone in the UK. Brexit uncertainty, following on from a long period of austerity, has meant that many of us are living under tighter budgets than ever before. Staying within our spending limits is becoming both necessary and more difficult.
However, insurance is something that you will always want to pay for. While the cost of any insurance plans you have will add to your monthly outgoings, they will also provide a significant amount of financial protection for you against a number of unpredictable scenarios.
For example, life insurance will ensure that your children have access to money should something happen to you and your partner. Similarly, there are variations on home and appliance coverage, which will protect your home and all items within it. This means that if things need to be replaced or repaired, you won't have to pay as much as you would if you didn't have insurance.
If you've been thinking about ditching one or more of your insurance plans because of the drain it represents on your monthly budgets, the following budgeting ideas should help you to squeeze it in.
Home insurance offers peace of mind
Prioritise your insurance
Before you consider the general budgeting tips that can help you to make more room in your budget for insurance, you should first go through exactly what insurance policies you have and work out which you need to keep and which you could live without.
For most of us, there are a number of things that we want to have insurance policies for at any given time, but there may be some you could either do without or perhaps roll into a single insurance package with another provider.
For example, certi.uk offers a range of home emergency cover packages that provide everything from boiler cover to home emergencies involving plumbing or electricity. Even the most basic package will entitle you to round-the-clock boiler service when you need it, but you can also throw in plumbing and electricity for a very reasonable price. These kinds of packages are much more cost effective than buying each insurance plan individually.
Make sure you’re not doubling up on insurance policies. For example, you may have a special rewards bank account that offers mobile phone insurance, but you could also be paying for a second mobile phone insurance with your mobile provider. The same goes with travel insurance and breakdown cover. Check if any of your reward current accounts already offer these policies so you’re not paying twice.
Also ensure you’re not paying for any insurance you don’t need such as pet insurance when you no longer have any pets. Check your accounts and make sure you know exactly which insurances you are paying for and why.
Work out which types of insurance are the most important for you and ensure that you can budget for these. Then follow the below tips to help make room in your budget to afford your necessary insurances.
Some insurance like car insurance is a legal requirement
Set yourself a budget
Setting a clear budget will make it much easier to manage your money and give you the extra headroom that you need to factor in your insurance costs. There are a number of ways that you can go about setting a budget, but you should write it down in some way, even if it's just as a note on your smartphone. I have a spreadsheet on Google Sheets which I can access on any device, including the Sheets app on my smart phone.
Once you have set a budget, the next challenge is to make sure that you are able to stick to it. There is no sense in setting yourself a budget if you're not able to stick to it, in fact, this will end up being counterproductive and will demotivate you.
If, when you first start using your budget, you are finding it too difficult to stay within it, then that's normally an indication that you need to adjust it. Some people will require more time than others to adapt to a new budget, especially if it means making some lifestyle changes and cutbacks.
Make a note of all your incomings for the month and then list your outgoings. Your outgoings should include your mortgage/rent, utility bills and your insurance payments. These are non-negotiable from your outgoings list and take priority.
Then comes food and fuel. Whilst these are also possibly non-negotiable, you might be able to reduce your monthly food or fuel shop so the amounts can sometimes be negotiable.
Next comes everything else… after you have paid your insurance bills.
If money and budgeting is really tight then read on for more tips on how to reduce your expenditure and even save more money each month.
Track your spending
Tracking the amount that you spend won't just make it easier to see how successful your budget is, it will also make it clear to you how much money you're spending. Many of us find it difficult to visualise the amount of money that we spend, especially when we spend primarily through digital means or online.
There are some really great apps available for helping you to not just track your spending but identify ways that you can reduce it. Spend some time looking in the app store and find an app that works for you. Alternatively, you can just keep your own record in a notebook or using Google Sheets like I mentioned above. You can set up a tab for your budget and a tab to track your spending.
If you want to get really serious about it, plotting your spending into a graph is an excellent way of visualising exactly how much progress, or lack thereof, you are making. If you want to know how much you are spending in the supermarkets each month then the HuYu app is great for tracking this, as well as letting you earn some gift vouchers from the receipts you upload!
Create a savings account
Having a dedicated savings account will help you to save money in a number of ways. Many people underestimate the psychological effect than a savings account has, but anyone who has experimented with one will be able to attest to how effective it is at encouraging the owner to save money.
With most banks, you can open a basic savings account for free from your smartphone by using the app. If you are already set up with mobile banking, simply log into the app and see if it gives you the option anywhere to make a new account.
As with most other budgeting methods, the key to success with a savings account will lie in your powers of self-control. If you lack willpower, then you might want to think about looking for ways to make it more difficult to spend money.
For example, you can have a dedicated account that you have to move money into before you can spend it. If you only carry the card for this account with you, it will be the only one you have access to, and you'll have to physically move money from your main account into this one before you can spend it. This will help you to keep tabs on how much you’re moving and spending.
Having a separate spending account, bills account and savings account can help you manage your money a lot better and to visually see the balances of each.
Pay off your debts
It is much easier to budget when you aren’t under the cloud of debt. That makes everything more difficult and sorting it out as soon as possible will be the key to minimising its impact on your finances.
If you are struggling to meet the minimum repayments on any of your debts, you should contact the lender and see if they will accept some kind of payment plan. In most cases, they will be more than happy to get something rather than nothing and so will be willing to accept a reasonable payment plan should you put one forward.
If you are really struggling or are in debt crisis like I once was (paying debt off with debt and getting further and further into debt without ever paying anything off) then seek professional help and consider a debt management plan if this is the right option for you. You should never cancel an important insurance policy in favour of paying debts. A reputable debt management company will let you have all necessary outgoings like mortgage/rent, bills, food and insurance before they take any debt repayments.
Another way of reducing the burden of debt is debt consolidation. This essentially involves rolling your existing debts into a more manageable one. So, in some cases it may make more sense to take out a loan to pay off a bunch of debts if paying that loan back would be much more manageable. Or even better could be to move all debts onto a 0% credit card so you are not paying any interest on the credit whilst you pay it off.
If I haven’t already said it enough then prioritising your insurance bills is really important. Having insurance on your home and most valuable possessions will give you peace of mind and financial protection. Insurances such as life insurance can ensure that you are prepared for every eventuality should the worst happen to you or your partner, or both. Could you afford the mortgage payments by yourself if your other half died unexpectedly? That’s what life insurance can cover. It’s a massive peace of mind and worth paying for, just in case.
If you are struggling to make room for insurance when you are putting together your household budget, it is worth spending some extra time to see if you can find a way of incorporating it. It may seem like a pesky outgoing and you’d rather spend the money on something else, but you won’t be thinking that should the worst happen and you need to make a claim on your insurance!
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