It’s not every day you can quote a Ronan Keating song in an article and get away with it, so when the opportunity arose, we grabbed it with both hands. ‘Life is a roller coaster, just got to ride it.’
Llife throws expected and unexpected events at you, which all come with extra costs. In the true spirit of Halloween, here’s a list of the top 5 scary life events as voted for by the Provident team, and how to cope with their expensive repercussions.
Having a baby is our number one scary life event for any expectant parent. Not only will you face sleepless nights and dirty nappies, but budgets will take a massive hit too. Research by insurer LV has found that the average cost of raising a child to the age of 21 is £222,458. In London, this comes to £239,123.* Here are some tips for surviving the costs.
Also, you may be eligible for child tax credits.
Decide What’s ‘Essential.’
Everyone will have an opinion on what you ‘need’ for babies, all adding to extra costs. Make a list of everything and then see what you can do without. Many new parents find themselves with furniture and items which they end up never using.
Buy Items Second Hand
Babies grow quickly so clothing quickly becomes too small. You can get loads of baby stuff second hand online or from charity shops. Alternatively, look online at places such as the NCT which hold clothing sales around the UK for expectant parents.
Many stores have their in- house version of the bigger branded products, at less cost to you. Buy own brands where possible and save.
Start a savings account for your little one early to ensure they can afford things as they get older (and more expensive to keep!) Shop around for the best deals or speak to your bank to see what savings accounts they have available.
Pass Items On
Once your little one’s outgrown items, make a bit of money from them. Sell them second hand to new parents!
With the average wedding costing over £20,000 it’s understandable that this has come in at number 2 in the scary life events. Here are some handy hints if you’re planning on tying the knot without running into debt.
Get Married Out Of Season
Wedding venues often cost more for the summer, as most people want summer weddings. Having your wedding outside of these times (September to February) is therefore cheaper as there’s less demand for the venues.
People want to get married on a weekend, so opting for a wedding on a Friday will cut the cost of your wedding, and will mean that guests have the weekend to recover!
DIY Wedding Invites
Wedding invites and stationary can all add up the costs of weddings, so why not get your creative juices flowing and design and make your own? It gives your wedding that personal feel- and you can have a lot of fun deciding on the look and feel and spend quality time making them.
Flowers & Decorations
Choose flowers which are in season as these will be cheaper. Your florist will be able to dictate which flowers would be best.
Use ribbon to decorate your reception. Tie ribbons around candles, door handles and chairs as a cheaper alternative to wedding decorations.
There are a number of options when buying a dress. Firstly, don’t buy your dress. You can hire a wedding dress for a lot less than what you’d pay for a new one, plus it can be your something borrowed.
Alternatively, you can look at buying a second hand wedding dress which will be a lot less expensive and let’s face it, only worn once.
If you’d really like a new dress, find the one you’d like and try asking the shop for the sample dress. This is the dress which will be used on mannequins and the dress which people will have tried on in the store. This dress will come at a discount and save you extra money.
Instead of offering sweets as the favours, why not make a donation to a dedicated charity instead? This will be less costly, plus someone else will benefit from your special day.
When speaking to photographers, see if you can get a digital wedding photography package. This will enable you to get digital copies of the pictures so you can then make your own prints yourself.
Which? have a guide to cutting the cost of your big day.
Losing your job is heartbreaking, especially if you have no other work lined up and is number 3 in our scary life events list. Redundancy puts extra pressure on relationships and finances. Read below to help you get a grip on how to cope.
Know What You’re Entitled To
Find out what benefits you’re entitled to if you’re under threat of redundancy. You may be entitled to a tax rebate after losing your job, and there’s Job Seekers Allowance to help you get back on your feet.
You need to get a handle on your finances. We have a budget planner here, which will help you work out your income and outgoings. If you’re worried about loans or credit card repayments, remember to tell your lender about your circumstances as they may give you breathing space- reducing your payments or maybe giving you a payment break.
Drop in Hours
A drop in hours means less money coming in and less money around to pay for bills etc. Here’s how you can budget effectively on your new hours.
Establish New Hours
Speak to management to try to gauge what hours you’ll now be working. From here you should be able to see how much money you’ll be earning.
However, getting this information may be difficult (or near impossible), so give yourself a few weeks to understand your new working habits. Don’t spend anything unless you’re buying essentials (paying the mortgage, bills and buying groceries). After a few weeks you’ll have a better understanding of the hours you’ll be working.
Clear Out Unwanted Stuff
Just to tide you over, sell old, unwanted stuff online. It’s not a long term plan, but may help with any unexpected costs which occur.
Look For Something New
Speak to management and see if there’s another job in the company you could do with more hours. If this is not possible, and you’re struggling to cope on the hours you’re working, it may be time to look for a new job.
Zero Hours Contracts
Many businesses are turning to zero hours contracts as an alternative employment contract. To understand your rights, click here.
The Money Advice Service has much more advice to help you.
At number 4 of our scary life events we have buying a car. On average, we pay £6689 a year to run our cars, with the biggest expenses being petrol and insurance.
Do your research. Know what car you can afford to run, how much it costs and what you can afford to pay. Which? will be able to help.
Cars lose their value the older they are, especially new cars, which immediately devalue by the value of the VAT. Whilst being the first to drive a car is a luxury, it’s an expensive luxury which will leave you out of pocket.
Be prepared to haggle for a discount. Don’t let them fob you off with excuses, stick to your guns. If you’re not happy with what they’re offering walk away- but keep the details so when you go to another dealership you can play them off against what was offered to you by the first.
Make sure you look to buy a car at the end of the month, when sales people need to meet their sales targets. Weekends are busy, but week days aren’t so the sales staff can spend more time with you. Summer holiday season is also a good time to look at buying a car as these are slow times for car dealerships.
Last but definitely not least in our scary life events list is retirement. Reaching retirement is a scary prospect, and there are lots of questions such as should you take a lump sum? What annuity could you get?
When? When? When?
Decide when you’d like or need to retire. This will give you an idea of how much you need to save and what you can expect from your pension.
Over the next 6 years, workers will see some of their pay being automatically put into pension pots. Employers and employees will both contribute to this fund, which is called the automatic enrolment fund.
In order to be eligible for the scheme, you must work in the UK, be aged over 22, earning more than £8,105 a year and be under the state pension age. If you already have a company pension or are self employed, you will not be signed up.
Part time workers who earn more than £5,564 will be automatically enrolled in the scheme, but if you earn less you can still request to join.
If you decide that you cannot afford the pension scheme, you can opt out.
Know What You’ll Get
Look at your pension statements and see what payments you’ll get from your pension. Is this enough for you?
Speak to your pension provider and shop around to look for the best income you’ll get. This could be a lifetime annuity or a fixed pension income.
The Money Advice Service will be able to guide you further through the retirement process.
The above are just some of the ways in which you can make life a little less scary.