The past 11 months or so have been an absolute whirlwind for everyone.
Just this time last year, the first coronavirus cases were starting to filter through around the world and we were all saying to ourselves, 'there's no chance it'll arrive in the UK'.
However, what has followed in the months since has been nothing short of devastating. Not only for the loss of life we've incurred, but the toll it's taken on mental health, the country's economy, and job losses - which has massively impacted people's finances.
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It has been an incredibly stressful period for so many people; this is as much a financial crisis as it is a health emergency and people are suffering from the effects of it all.
Trying to plan in uncertain times is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a critical way to help yourself overcome this tough time so you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible.
What benefits can I claim?
It's important that you first seek guidance from the state about the benefits that you can claim.
We understand it may be completely overwhelming to go through this process, especially if it's the first time you have claimed. But every little bit of help you can get will make a huge difference.
You can visit the government website to see exactly what benefits you may be able to claim.
Why should I have savings?
If you're concerned about your job security in the near future, use this time to start putting additional funds away per month that you can use if the worst was to happen.
You could also start trying to cut back on some of your weekly shopping purchases and only buy your absolute essentials.
It will be a rough period of time, but you'll be thankful for it once the pandemic is over, or if you do sadly find yourself out of work and need money to pay your bills and weekly food shop.
What insurance policies do I need?
It's worth checking your insurance policies and documents that may be able to help cover some of your monthly outgoings such as your mortgage or bills.
If you have payment protection insurance (PPI), mortgage payment protection insurance, or accident, sickness, and unemployment insurance you may be covered to some degree.
If you feel like your job is at risk, it's certainly worth having a chat with your insurer to find out more information about what you could be entitled to.
Can I have a payment holiday on my car finance?
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) introduced payment holidays at the start of the first lockdown back in March 2020 for those that may not be able to afford to pay back any loans they've taken out, due to the impacts of the pandemic.
A payment holiday can be up to a maximum of six months and anyone is able to take one, providing they haven't done so already.
It's designed to freeze finance agreements if you think you may struggle to pay back what you've borrowed and can be used on credit cards, payday loans, personal loans, car finance agreements, and more.
Check out the full guidance from the FCA.
Can my lender help me with my car finance?
If you are reluctant to take a payment holiday for whatever reason but think you could miss a payment on something, then it's worth talking to your creditor to let them know the issue and they may be able to offer you suitable guidance or alternative options.
Should I use my savings?
We know it will be terribly difficult to dive into your savings account if you have been saving for years for your dream first home or holiday, but in critical scenarios, you just have to do what's best for you.
Money is put aside as savings for various things but also as a security blanket if the worst was to happen.
Once you're back on your feet, it won't be long before you're topping up your savings pot once more and looking forward to everything to come once we are able to do them.
Should I borrow money from my family or friends?
If you are really struggling financially, it may be a good idea to turn to family members or friends if you have the option to do so and borrow some money from them.
It would be a much healthier and cheaper way of getting some extra funds than taking out a payday loan or credit card but we appreciate that it may not be possible for everyone to avoid those options.
We hope this would be a quick and short-term solution and you can repay them not too long after. But just be sure that you will be able to pay them back, even at short notice if they are in need of financial assistance themselves.
Where can I get financial help?
If things become too much, which is perfectly natural in the current situation we are faced with, then please do seek help.
There are people out there specifically trained to help people deal with financial worry or debt, as well as many other mental health charities that will listen to what you have to say.
There are lots of free and confidential services available to support you.
Never feel like you are alone or that nobody else is facing similar circumstances to you; we're all in this together and to get out of this pandemic on the other side we need to work as one.
Visit our Facebook page where we list a number of our favourite charities that are proven to help with any mental health or financial struggles.
We hope the above information helps anyone that is struggling at the moment. It's been a long old year but we will get through this; there is a brighter light at the end of the tunnel every day.
Please share this information with anyone you know or believe to be in a difficult position right now.