You & Your Money

If people didn’t fall out over money, half the storylines in our favourite soaps would have to be ditched. But what makes finances such a sensitive topic that four out of 10 of us say we find them difficult to discuss? According to Mark Fenton-O’Creevy, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the Open University, one stumbling block is that money in relationships is loaded with symbolism. For some, money represents power; for others, it’s a sign of love or generosity, a way to gain freedom or to achieve security.What happens, then, if someone who sees money as a way to freedom ends up in a relationship with someone who views it as the key to security? Is a different attitude guaranteed to cause tension? Not necessarily, says the professor, although it’s more likely if money is tight, and especially if you don’t recognise and discuss your differences in attitude. So, as in so many areas of life, it’s good to talk.

Good news for britain’s flood victims 

After the terrible flooding across parts of the UK over Christmas and the New Year, people in high-risk areas will be glad to hear that the Government-backed Flood Re scheme goes live this spring. It enables people who live in at-risk areas – around five million of us – to obtain affordable buildings and contents insurance. Flood Re will be funded by a levy on all insurance companies, and all insurance policies will include a supplement (thought to be around £10.50 per year, per policy), to pay for that levy. As well as offering affordable cover, an important part of Flood Re’s remit is to help people understand more about their level of risk and how they can reduce it. For further details, visit floodre.co.uk.

A matter of life and death

Funeral costs are rising as fast as house prices! That’s the news from investment company Royal London, which has published its latest National Funeral Cost Index Report. According to their figures, the average ‘basic’ funeral is now £3,702. Not surprising then that funeral debt is also rising, with 13 per cent of people struggling to pay for a funeral.

Nifty thrifty… on holiday

With more than 34 million Brits planning an overseas holiday in 2016, it’s time to get our holiday finances in shape…

  • Do you know when your passport expires? Check before you book a last-minute deal! The standard three-week service costs £72.50 for adults (free if you were born before 2 September 1929). However, the Premium service (you get your passport within four hours of your application being accepted, but you must collect it from a Passport Customer Service Centre) costs £128! There's also a one-week service that is £103.
  • If you’re booking flights, don’t do it on a Friday. It’s the most expensive day of the week to buy a plane ticket. In fact, evidence suggests you’re most likely to find a bargain if you book on a Tuesday or at the weekend.
  • Being clever about where you get your foreign currency and how you spend on holiday can save you around £100. Try not to change your money at the airport or ferry terminal, as they know you are a captive customer. If you plan to use a debit card, check the charges as some charge £1.50 every time you use them.
  • A prepaid currency card is good if you’re on a budget but be sure to check where you can use it.
  • According to gocompare.com, half of all holiday-makers who purchased travel insurance through them in July 2015 arranged it within a week of their holiday. A further nine per cent arranged it on the day their holiday began. If you’re a last-minute purchaser, be aware that you’ll miss out on the full benefit of the cancellation cover provided by most single-trip policies. These protect against events affecting you before you leave your home, and cancellation cover starts as soon as you purchase the policy, not on your date of travel.

Hidden assets

McCarthy Stone saved homeowners £1.2 million in less than a year in benefits they didn’t know they were entitled to. McCarthy Stone set up its Entitlements Advice Service to help homeowners find their way through confusing regulations. Last year, it helped over 300 people find unclaimed benefits such as housing support or Council Tax reductions. The service has been so successful that it’s now being extended.

One homeowner it helped is Joan Sanderson. She wanted to move to Jebb Court in Ellesmere, Shropshire, to be near her daughter, but didn’t think she could afford it. Entitlements Advisor Colin Cuthbert helped her look into support she’d be able to claim. ‘What a difference it made,’ says Joan. ‘The savings and support with Council Tax, ground rent and service charges meant I’ve been able to secure a lovely apartment at Jebb Court.’ Colin adds: ‘The support we can help people tap into makes a huge difference. Our mantra is to enable people to live a good quality of life independently for as long as possible. I’m pleased I can contribute to that.’ According to Age UK, one in three people entitled to Pension Credit isn’t claiming it. 

Find out more in our entitlements advice section.