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Soon-to-be brides and grooms, like us all will be adhering to the mandatory lockdown and this is likely to be leaving many couples frustrated as wedding planning is put on hold. Weddings are expensive - even if your wedding fund hasn't had to take a financial hit with cancellations.
For those that are planning a wedding in the next few months or years, using this period to take stock of your finances can be beneficial. Just as you will be looking after your mental and physical health during lockdown, you should also give your financial health a workout!
To help, Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director for Fidelity International has mapped out a personal finance plan to tackle each week head on and see you through the next month.
Week one: Sort your discretionary spending
Now that you are only really spending money on food and other key deliveries, you have the chance to take a long, hard look at your discretionary spend – in other words, spending that is not essential. Take your last four months of credit card or debit card bills and make a note of what you think you could cut back on when things start to return to normal. For example, this could be spending on clothes, hairdressing, cinema trips, restaurants – while also ensuring you treat yourself on occasion! Compare this spending 'pre' and 'post-lockdown', work out what you want to continue with when restrictions are lifted, and you have a figure that you can set aside each month. When we are able to return to a few elements of normal life, take advantage of a money savings app that can help keep your finances on track; just as you might use an app to kick-start your lockdown fitness routine. Installing an app onto your phone gives you real time information about your savings and spending habits, so you will immediately become more aware of your finances and see where you're doing well - and where you may be slipping into old spending habits.
Week Two: Identify where you can make the most savings
For the most part, you may find the lack of travel costs and extra spend leisure is helping your day-to-day finances stay fit. However, it's important not to let money seep through your fingers on things like overdue subscriptions or unused memberships, so look at what you may want to cut back on going forward. Part of this review is also digging up your household bills: try and use the time to research and explore where you could save money by switching suppliers, and that's potentially hundreds of pounds that you can get back each month. You'll also significantly cut your food bill if you reduce unnecessary items and opt for more supermarket own brands.
Week Three: Life after lockdown: building your pension
If you can afford it, now may just be the best time to put a few extra pounds into your pension investments. As stock markets have felt a little volatile recently, you might be feeling cautious about topping-up your pension savings right now. However, any extra money you are able to invest now will help strengthen you financially for the future. And it doesn't have to be large amounts: our research found that by contributing an extra 1% of her salary to her pension, a woman could close the gender pension gap. If you are employed, then there should be the resources at work to help you do this and people to speak to. For the self-employed, there are plenty of resources that can help you navigate the world of pensions but speaking to a financial adviser is a good first step.