Self isolating for coronavirus – the homeowners to do list for financial health
We'll all be spending more time at home over the coming weeks. Here's some things you can do to make good use of your extra time at home to protect your finances and get those essential jobs done.
March 13, 2020
While it’s hard to see a positive from the coronavirus pandemic, the one up side is that we can all expect to be spending less time and money on travelling, and more time at home. Assuming you are well, how can you make best use of your time to help boost your finances? And what jobs should you get done around the house?
1. Review your mortgage
- Act now if you’re likely to need a mortgage holiday
If you’re worried about the impact of the coronavirus on your business, or a drop in income if you can’t work, then consider a mortgage holiday. On Tuesday 17 March, the government announced that all homeowners can claim a three month “holiday” from their monthly mortgage repayments.
The first UK lender to announce support was Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), who are offering a holiday for up to three months for customers who might lose their jobs or see their income decline if they cannot work due to illness or lockdown.
TSB has also said borrowers could have mortgage repayment holidays for up to two months.
UK Finance, the trade body, said all its members were putting measures in place to support borrowers affected by the virus. This could include offering or increasing an overdraft or allowing repayment relief for loan or mortgage repayments.
But asking for help early is key. You want to avoid missing a mortgage payment which in turn will impact your credit rating. So if you think you may be affected, contact your lender now.
But remember – during a mortgage holiday you will still be accruing interest on your mortgage and won’t be making your usual monthly repayments, so your outstanding mortgage balance will be higher after a mortgage holiday.
- Find out whether you can save by moving your mortgage
Following the emergency cut in interest rates on Budget day in response to the “economic shock” of the coronavirus outbreak, there is no better time to check you are on the best mortgage rate.
The Bank of England lowered the base rate by 0.50% to 0.25% on March 11th, and then made a further reduction to 0.10% on the 19th March meaning borrowing costs have been reduced to the lowest levels in history. Lenders indicated that they would pass on the cut to some mortgage customers. Barclays said that new rates for tracker and variable rate borrowers would come into effect from April 1. Nationwide said it would confirm any rate changes in due course.
And while you’re thinking mortgages, why not check you are on the best deal. It’s something that often falls to the bottom of the pile but that could make a huge difference to your monthly outgoings. Mortgage experts predict a fall in fixed rate mortgages. For example a 10-year fixed deal is likely to fall below 2 per cent from the current market-leading rate of 2.09 per cent.
2. Home maintenance jobs
There’s no excuse now! As well as upping the cleanliness levels in your home, you could help support locally self employed tradespeople in this difficult time by getting those jobs done. It’s probably best to focus on the outside jobs, so garden, fence and roof maintenance are a no brainer. Visit our guide for the maintenance jobs you should be tackling this Spring.
It’s also a great opportunity to clear out cupboards, bedrooms and the loft of all your unwanted clutter and have a general sort out. The charity shops will thank you.
3. Regular cleaning
Forget the one-off Spring clean, we’ll be upping our game at home now for some time to come. Good Housekeeping suggest:
- Clean then disinfect. Use a two step method of cleaning then disinfecting surfaces and high touch areas like door handles, light switches and bannisters
- Don’t forget shared devices like home phones and remote controls
- Clean cleaning cloths thoroughly and don’t use one cloth to clean all surfaces
- Leave disinfectant on surfaces for a few minutes before wiping off
4. Double check your bills and insurance
Dull it is, but as the global economy wobbles, there’s no better time to protect your hard earned cash by reviewing your bills and looking for cheaper deals.
Only last month, it was widely reported that two thirds of current broadband deals see customers hit with substantial price hikes after the contract ends. Out of the 68 per cent of customers hit with an automatic price rise, some providers increase costs by as much as 89%. See our guide to finding the best broadband deal.
But don’t stop there. Last year, the FCA found millions of loyal customers are paying an average of £200 too much than they should for their home insurance. Some insurance providers even targeted customers who were less likely to switch with price hikes. So now’s the time to check your bills, shop around and speak to your insurance provider. Read our guide on how to get the best home insurance deal.
And we were shocked to read in Forbes this week that the panic shopping has extended beyond toilet roll. Some consumers are also panic buying for life insurance. In the face of widespread fears about quarantine and infections some firms reporting a 50% increase in life insurance applications since mid-February as people think of ways to protect their families. Active Quote have reported a 15% increase in calls about income protection. Before you do anything read out guide on Do I need life insurance.
How are you preparing your home and finances in the current pandemic? Please leave your suggestions below!