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Money can be a worry and when it comes to leaving higher education it often feels like you’ve been thrown in at the deep end, left to fend for yourself with little-to-no firsthand experience.
Whether you’re trying to get on the property ladder, prevent your student debt getting on top of you or simply want to live a fulfilling life without worrying about your finances, it can be hard to know what to do.
Luckily, Royal London have been helping people plan their financial goals for over 150 years. So they know what they’re doing. They provide simple information on a wide range of financial topics as well as products like life insurance and pensions to help you achieve your goals.
Abigail Montrose, Personal Finance Expert at Royal London, is here to help with your questions…
1. “I’m in a low-paid job but want to prepare for my future; what should I be doing? Should I consider a pension now?” Mo – 24, Brentford
Abigail says: The sooner you can start saving into a pension the better as this gives your money plenty of time to grow.
- Your employer must offer you a pension scheme if you’re 22 or over and earn £10,000 or more a year. You’ll be automatically enrolled into the scheme unless you choose to opt out. Your employer and the government also have to contribute to this so if you opt out you’re effectively giving up free money.
– The minimum you pay into a pension scheme is 5%,
– The minimum contribution from your employer is 3% (many are more generous)
– And you get tax relief from the government which boosts your contributions.
- If you’re self-employed an independent financial adviser can help you set up a pension. We have a simple guide to pensions on our website which can help.
2. “I’m a freelancer and while I love the variety of work, there’s little job security. What steps can I take when it comes to insurance and investing for my future?” Lucy – 26, Essex
Abigail says: 5 million people in the UK are self-employed – that’s 15% of all workers – so you’re not alone wondering about this. Some insurance is compulsory such as car insurance while other insurance is designed to protect you against the unexpected such as if you fall ill and are unable to work.
It sounds like you’re also thinking about the future. Perhaps you’d like to start saving towards buying your own home or are thinking of starting a pension. For ideas on how to build a financial plan for your future see our guide.
3. “I have a full-time job but still live with my parents and have saved a bit of money. I don’t feel ready to fly the nest just yet, so what measures should I take to make sure I’m financially independent when I leave home?” Stefan – 23, Hull
Abigail says: Life can throw all sorts of curveballs at us so when it comes to money it’s always good to have a rainy day or emergency fund. This can take care of:
- Any unexpected bills
- Ensure you have enough cash to help you get by if you lose your job
- Get you into the habit of saving.
When you do decide to leave home you’ll either need to rent or buy your own place which means you’ll need to have money set aside to pay for this. So you’ll be thanking yourself later if you develop a good savings habit now. For tips on how to save for your future see our guide.
4. “I’m recently out of uni, working in an averagely-paid job and while I want to pay off my student debt, I also want to have a good time without constantly being worried about money. How could I approach that?” Chloe – 24, Liverpool
Abigail says: After all that scrimping at uni you’re now in a position to enjoy all the hard work and why shouldn’t you? But of course that doesn’t mean you should spend it all at once. To work out how much you can afford to spend on having a good time without breaking the bank it’s worth drawing up a budget. This is simply a list of all your income and what you need to spend this money on.
Start by listing the essentials such as rent, bills, food and travel to work costs. Once you’ve done this you’ll have a clearer idea of how much money you have to play with. Our guide on budgeting can help with this as can our 10 top tips on managing your money.
5. “I’m currently renting a flat, but I don’t want to get stuck essentially throwing money away. Is it possible to save up to buy my own place without moving back home?” Catherine – 29, London
Abigail says: Buying a home is something many of us aspire to but it can sometimes seem like an impossible dream. But with careful planning it’s often more achievable than you think. As well as saving up a deposit (typically lenders want you to have at least a 5% deposit) you’ll also need to save up enough money to pay for all the other expenses associated with buying a home such as stamp duty, valuation fees and legal expenses.
You can find out about the various costs for buying a home in our guide. You may get some help from your parents or you may have to save up all this money yourself. Either way, the sooner you start saving the better.
There are various things you can do to improve your chances of getting a mortgage, such as making sure you have a good credit record and that you’re saving enough. You can find out more about this in our guide.