Spring cleaning your finances

As the weather begins to warm up, many will be starting to think about giving their homes a seasonal spring clean. But with the soaring cost of living, now is also a good time to do the same to your finances to make sure they are in good shape.
For many people their mortgage will be one of the biggest monthly commitments they have so it’s important to start here.
Current thought is that the Bank of England base rate will likely rise further during the rest of the year so those on a standard variable rate (SVR) will find themselves paying more each month.
If this applies to you, then it is wise to speak to a mortgage advisor to see if you can save money by switching to a fixed rate, even if you have to pay a fee to do so. These SVRs tend to be more expensive than fixed rate deals so it’s wise to check.
If you are already on a fixed rate, make sure you know when it is due to end, so you don’t get stung when it does. You should also check what your current deal is and see if you could reduce your monthly payments by switching to a better one. Be aware there may be an upfront cost to do so, but it may work out cheaper in the long run.
Best advice is to be prepared, shop around and if you are struggling to keep up with repayments, speak to your lender as they may be able to help.
For those who rent, it may not be easy to negotiate a reduction in the monthly payments, but if you are struggling to pay the bills it is advisable to get in touch with your landlord and explain.
However, whether you rent or own, it is essential to create and stick to a budget. And in the current economic climate this is more important than ever. Thankfully there are plenty of apps and websites available to help you keep on track.
It also makes sense to cut costs where you can. However, these need to be realistic. This is where the budget comes in handy as you can see what you are paying out and what money you have coming in. Do you really need all those subscriptions and memberships? Are you using them? If not get rid of them. Do you need that new pair of shoes? Be ruthless!
Are there any household bills you could get a better deal on? Check your utility bills, insurance payments, transport costs and how much you spend on food each month. Shop around for better deals – it’s amazing how much you can save if you do.
One of the biggest issues with food is that of waste. Many people create a weekly menu so they can stick to buying just the food they need rather than go shopping and be tempted by things not on the list! Another option is to bulk buy, cook in batches and freeze portions so you always have something in stock.
If you are struggling for ideas, food blogger and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has some excellent recipes on her Cooking On A Bootstrap blog.
Another superb site is Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert website which has tips and ideas of how to save, plus all the best deals when it comes to bank accounts, utilities, mortgages, insurance and budgeting in general. As this site is updated regularly, deals are current.