The retail industry has been struggling for a long time and I’ve gone through several business restructures and seen many colleagues and friends face redundancy.
With so much increased uncertainty, I spend much of my time worrying that I wouldn’t be able to support myself or any family if we lost our jobs – a scenario which seems to be growing ever more likely with announced job losses at both mine and my family’s places of work. I often feel trapped within a job to ensure I’m there for a minimum of two years to qualify for the full redundancy package. I can’t even begin to think about how to save for a house – that seems like something I’ll never achieve.
Keen to break that money taboo, we’re chatting all things personal finance from daily budgets to ISAs and pensions. Each week, a woman in a unique situation will give us an honest breakdown of her finances, and our expert will tell her easy tips on exactly how to tackle it. So, grab a cuppa, take a seat, and let’s talk about money…
Annie*, 26, is a fashion marketing executive from London, currently on furlough.
I work for a large retail head office where the decision was made to put a high number of employees on furlough as a result of difficult trading conditions. I feel so fortunate that furlough was available, and my general lower outgoings during this period has given me an opportunity to pay off some of the credit card debts that I racked up. While my job isn’t poorly paid, I find it so difficult to save much money and what I have in my savings is so minimal that I wouldn’t be able to support myself on savings alone if I needed to.
Current account: -£955
Savings account: £1,000 – £400 of this is in a Help To Buy scheme account.
Monthly wage: £30k per annum (£2,500 a month)
Monthly wage post Covid-19: £24k per annum
Any other incoming payments: NA
Other: £70 for phone/ Spotify/ Netflix
Splurges: I don’t tend to splurge a lot. I go on holiday with my friends once or twice a year. My biggest outgoing is socialising with friends or colleagues. I know it’s something I need to cut back on.
Weekly budget: Pre-Covid I had been trying to live on £100 a week, as I moved house the beginning of April and needed to make an advance payment on rent.
What I spent this month: Outside of rent I have spent £500, which included pieces for the house.
What I was left with: NA
Credit card: £200 – I paid off a significant amount of my credit card debt in the last couple of months using the deposit I received back from my previous house, and I also reduced my outgoings. I’m super proud of this as I really had racked up a lot of debt over the years.
Overdraft: £1,000 – with no interest till July. I opened this overdraft to pay the deposit on the new house I’m renting. I’m planning on paying £500 of my May and June wage to get this paid off before I’ll be charged interest.
MY MONEY THOUGHTS
What I want to save for: Security and to buy a house or flat – though I live in London so I’m not really sure I’ll ever be able to buy.
How I want to plan my money for the future: I’ve no idea, I feel like I can barely save for now, never mind the future.
My worst money habit: Socialising – drinks and dinners.
My biggest money worry: Financial and job security – I need to move jobs to an industry that’s more stable and that has more opportunities for promotion.
Current money mood: ???
WHAT OUR EXPERT SAYS:
Keep it up You’re already made huge progress in paying off debt and you’re two months away from having your overdraft blasted too. Understandably, building security is a priority so if you can, keep up your habit of putting away £500 a month and start to build your emergency fund. I’d suggest setting up a separate savings account for this and automate the saving with a standing order that whisks the money out of your account, as you get paid.
Think outside the box
While home ownership might feel like a distant dream, don’t give up. First, keep an open mind to the less conventional. Shared ownership schemes allow you to buy a % of a property and then continue to buy chunks while living there. Make sure you’re clued up on the pros and cons; for example, it’s often best for people who plan to live there for a while so that they can reach 100% ownership before selling. Share To Buy provides a really helpful calculator to help you see what’s possible. Alternatively, you could explore buying with a friend but be sure to get good legal advice.
Once you’ve done your research and understand how buying could be possible for you, explore opening a Lifetime ISA. There are two types; a Cash Lifetime ISA and a Stocks and Shares Lifetime ISA. The government will boost whatever you save by 25%, up to a maximum bonus of £1,000 a year. You can use a Lifetime ISA to buy your first home or get access to the lot when you’re 60.
If buying isn’t looking likely for the next five years, a stocks and shares Lifetime ISA might give a better chance of beating the pitiful interest rates but make sure you’re aware of the risks – with investing you can lose money as well as make it!
Say no The FOMO struggle is real and for many, lockdown has been a welcome break from the pressure to spend money. Let’s be honest, those overpriced G&Ts probably weren’t worth the anxiety they induced when we checked our balance the next morning. Frugality doesn’t have to mean no fun, but as many emerge from lockdown with financial insecurity, now is the time to practice saying no. Both for yourself, and for others, who will likely breathe a sigh of relief when you give them permission to do the same.
Eleanor Levy from workplace pensions provider NOW: Pensions:
When financial pressures build up, it may feel scary to think about starting a pension. In times like these, worries about job security are on everybody’s mind. But it’s crucial in your twenties to get into the habit of putting aside even a small amount each month towards your retirement so you have some income when you stop working.
The good news is that you should have been automatically enrolled by your employer into a workplace pension (as you are earning over £10,000 per annum and aged over 22).
The minimum contributions paid into your pension will be 8% of your qualifying earnings – 3% of which must be paid by your employer. These payments must be maintained for enrolled workers even if they have been furloughed (contributions in this instance are based on the furlough ‘salary’).
If you have a salary sacrifice agreement and you’ve been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, your employer is still required to make pension contribution payments and follow their usual pension arrangements. If you can continue to pay into your workplace pension while on furlough it’s a good idea, as any breaks in contributions now could impact on your future pension savings.