Life in lockdown has understandably placed a lot of focus on our physical and mental health. But as the crisis has played out it’s become clear that the financial impact may be just as significant and, in many cases, have a longer term effect on our wider wellbeing.
While we can’t control what happens in the economy or job market, we can take steps to help boost our own sense of financial wellbeing, including doing what we can to help protect our pension and other investments. And the earlier we can do this, the better.
Simple steps now can help avoid money worries later
The government-backed Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is urging everyone to give their finances a health check now to help prepare for money challenges later on. This is especially important for those facing concerns around job security, reduced hours and illness, and those who are close to retirement.
“While this is likely to be a stressful situation for many people, there are steps you can take now to prepare yourself to deal with any financial challenges, and to hopefully give you some peace of mind during the coming months,” says MaPS money expert, Nick Hill.
So we’ve come up with some easy ways to give yourself a money MOT and some specific steps to help protect your pension investments in turbulent times.
Five ways to help stay on top of your finances
If you have the time during lockdown, a good starting point is to look at your budget and check what savings you have that could bridge any gaps. You’ll find plenty of tips on the MoneyPlus savings pages, but you can get started with these five financial habits.
2.Cut your costs
Review your spending and see if there are any unnecessary outgoings you could cancel or try shopping around for better prices on utilities and services by using comparison sites. You can find lots more tips for fixing any money leaks here.
3.Stay safe online
The last thing anyone wants at the moment is to add to their money worries by falling victim to the scammers seeking to exploit the crisis and steal personal information and money. Read our guide to protecting yourself online for clear and practical help.
4.Don’t miss out on the help that’s available
Look out for Government announcements to make sure you’re not missing out on any help available to you or your family. The Government’s main Coronavirus information page has a section covering financial support and other money matters.
You should also check with your bank, insurers and other providers like energy companies to see what support they can offer.
5.Get if off your chest
Talking more openly about money can help people make better financial decisions, build better relationships and feel less stressed. Try these five ways to make talking about money easier.
Smart steps to help protect your pension investments
We understand that it may be a worrying time for those with pensions and other investments, especially if you are approaching retirement or already taking some of your pension money.
That’s why MoneyPlus has a dedicated page full of information and guidance to support you during the Covid-19 outbreak. Whatever stage you’re at in your pension journey, we’ve provided answers to the big questions our customers are asking.
Here are some of the key takeaways and where you can find out more:
Watching how the volatility in global markets affects the value of your pension and other investments can be stressful. But it’s important not to panic and take any sudden decisions without thinking things through. This article explains why you should think carefully before selling your investments.
2. Review where you’re invested
One of the best ways to help cushion yourself against the worst of market ups and downs during difficult times is to make sure you have a good mix of investments.
You may already be benefiting from diversification. For example, if you’re in the ‘default’ investment option of a workplace pension plan, this will generally include a broad mix of investments, as we explain in our article How long could this go on? Could I lose all my money? But it’s worth checking.
You also want to be comfortable that your investments are right for your age and the amount of risk you want to take (this risk questionnaire can help you with this).
You can read more about both in I’m worried about my pension plan and investments – what can I do?
3.Get the guidance or professional advice you need
While we may be all in this together, we’re all dealing with our own unique circumstances and there’s no single right answer.
We’ve got guidance for you if you’re approaching retirement or if you’ve already started accessing your pension savings, but before taking any decisions it’s a good idea to consider getting financial advice.
An adviser can provide you with a tailored plan that meets your individual needs. If you don’t have one you can find one local to you at Unbiased. Bear in mind that there’s likely to be a cost for getting advice.
If you want more information about how the impact of coronavirus might affect your pension investments try the Pensions Advisory Service. And for Standard Life pension customers, we’ve put together answers to the key questions you’ve been asking about coronavirus and your pension investments in this handy FAQ.
Of course, it’s more than just money worries that many people are dealing with at the moment. Thankfully, there’s plenty of support out there if you’re finding things difficult. Try the Government’s website for help with mental health and wellbeing or the NHS for tips on helping mental wellbeing while staying at home.
The information in this article is based on our understanding in May 2020 and should not be regarded as financial advice. Please remember that the value of investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than was paid in.
Standard Life accepts no responsibility for information in external websites. These are provided for general information.