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  • Valeria Shreiber

6 saving tips that will help you stay afloat during COVID-19 outbreak

With all the coronavirus madness happening over the past few weeks, we wanted to get in touch with a quick message from all of us at ApTap. We hope that you and your loved ones are all safe. We’re living in strange times and it might feel that the world has suddenly turned upside down but we wanted to stress that it’s business as usual here at ApTap.


We are all working remotely supporting and motivating each other, while building and connecting more awesome things to improve the ApTap experience for you. Most importantly, we’re still working hard to deliver on our mission: to empower people to stay on top of their finances. We’ve got some really exciting partnerships in the pipeline, and we can’t wait to share these with you as soon as possible, so stay tuned!


Finally, we have launched our web app and are planning on holding a Zoom Virtual Launch Party on the 21st of May to celebrate this milestone with all of you!


Here are 6 useful tips that will help you stay afloat during this pandemic!


1. Claim “working from home expenses”


Most of us are now working from home, and you may be surprised at how much money that could save you. Did you know you may be able to claim tax relief for some of the bills you have to pay because you have to work at home on a regular basis? This can include business telephone calls or the extra cost of gas and electricity for your work area. From 6 April 2020, your employer can pay you up to £6 a week (£26 a month) to cover your additional costs if you have to work from home.



2. Plan, plan, plan!

Woohoo! It’s payday! Time for Deliveroo and some online shopping! Wait. Hold on a sec. I know it’s tempting but spending your hard-earned money on impulse buys aren’t worth it! After sorting your bills and subscriptions using ApTap, think about putting something aside. When it comes to budgeting yourself, be reasonable. You do need to treat yourself along the way too, and that’s absolutely fine! Here at ApTap we recommend the popular 50/30/20 budget split rule:


  • The 50-30-20 rule puts 50% of your income toward necessities, like housing and bills;

  • 30% of your income can be allocated to wants, like dining or entertainment, that new handbag, the latest electronic gadget, and ultra-high-speed Internet. Anything in the "wants" bucket is optional if you boil it down (e.g. you can cook instead of ordering food deliveries and customise your old jacket instead of ordering a new one);

  • Finally, 20% should then go toward financial goals, like paying off debt. This includes adding money to an emergency fund in a bank savings account, making IRA contributions to a mutual fund account, and investing in the stock market. You should have at least three months of emergency savings on hand in case you lose your job or an unforeseen event occurs. After that, focus on retirement and meeting other financial goals down the road.



You can use 50/30/20 NerdWallet Budget Calculator, which will help you create a realistic budget that accounts for all of your expenses. Just simply input your monthly after-tax income to determine your spending in three categories.

3. Claim that money back

Are you that lucky champ who finally booked that summer holiday to Ibiza expecting endless parties and crazy adventures? Or were you dreaming about rolling your hips and screaming “Shout out to my ex” at that Little Mix concert? Well, sorry to disappoint you, but it’s all been cancelled and you should spend some time investigating how to reclaim that cash.


The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) told BBC News that people "absolutely have the right to a refund" for cancelled package holidays, but payments would take longer than the 14 statutory days. If your flight is cancelled, you are also entitled to a full refund to your original form of payment, within seven days. Many customers are reporting that their airlines are offering a voucher for your next flight. Don’t be sad if this year’s plans don’t go as planned as you can always put the money you get back toward next year’s trip and even add more sightseeing tours to that package. Nothing beats planning a holiday, after all.



4. Track bills and delete old subscriptions

It’s time to banish those sneaky bill charges! Now that we’re spending a lot more time at home, everyone from online streaming services to digital schools are offering longer-than-normal free trials to give you something to do while you’re stuck at home. All those free trials are a great way to try out something new but they’re also a great way for you to end up getting charged for things you aren’t using anymore. We have all made the mistake of signing up for a free trial and then totally forgetting to cancel it before it rolls over for another month and charges your credit card in the process (gym memberships every January for example...). Frankly, that's what most companies are counting on when they offer you a free crack at their service. 


What celebrity do you most look like? It's an intriguing question and I suppose most people are at least curious if you favour a Hollywood actor or professional athlete. "Gradient", a smartphone app that claims it can find a celebrity you look like based on a selfie, has gone viral. It's a free app but it's costing thousands of people a lot of money. You may wonder why. Well, there's a trial subscription and it only lasts 3 days. If you don't cancel before the trial ends, you will be charged for a monthly subscription. $20 seems a little high for a photo you'll only enjoy one time, so stay alert.


In addition, with most gyms being forced to close in the past weeks to contain the spread of the virus, it’s time to cancel your gym subscription. It isn’t doing you any good right now! Don’t worry, there are plenty of workouts posted online that you can watch to stay in shape and NHS have recently posted a set of free tips and a series of 10-minute workouts and easy exercises for you to stay healthy.


With ApTap, you can save money quickly by sorting the wheat from the chaff, and rooting out those services you signed up to on a whim but don’t use (here's looking at you, Himalayan honey delivery service). You never know, you may stumble across subscriptions you’d forgotten about. We keep an eye on your bills and subscriptions so you don’t have to. Discover and cancel those wasteful services so you won’t get any nasty surprises.



5. Time to change your energy and broadband providers

One of the simplest ways of saving is to regularly switch your energy suppliers or check to see if you could get a better deal on your internet provider. This can save you hundreds of pounds a year! Month-to-month, that may seem like you’re only saving a few quid, but put that into your savings account and the benefits soon add up!


Did you know there are more than 50 energy suppliers competing for your interest? At ApTap, we’ve made it as simple as possible for you to compare deals with just a couple of taps in the app!


How long have you been with your broadband provider? Can you guess the average time someone sticks with theirs? Well, people stay with their internet provider for an average of 7 years, overpaying by £1200 in that period on average. Don’t hesitate - just switch! ApTap can do it for you with just a few clicks.


6. Payment holidays

Finally, check if you are eligible to claim a mortgage payment holiday or reduce it temporarily. The mortgage payment holiday will provide flexibility in repaying your mortgage by allowing you to stop or reduce your monthly payments for up to three months. If you are renting a place, there’s also some help available for you. Your landlord will be able to apply for the three-month mortgage payment holiday if you are experiencing financial difficulty so they shouldn’t put any pressure on you to meet rent payments during this time.


However, while these schemes might look like a life saviour and will certainly help you save some cash, we suggest that you first discuss taking a payment holiday with your lender or financer to be 100% sure that these schemes are appropriate for you. Any unpaid interest will probably still need to be paid back but you won’t have to worry about any additional fees or charges and your Individual credit rating should not be affected.



“You're not stuck at home, you're safe at home. One word can change your attitude and one caught can change your life.”


That’s all from us for now. Please stay safe and remain positive!


Team ApTap



Sources:


1. https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home

2. https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/022916/what-502030-budget-rule.asp

3. https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/nerdwallet-budget-calculator/

4. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51615412

5. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/10-minute-workouts/

6. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/coronavirus-and-housing-costs#if-youre-renting

7. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/mortgage-payment-holidays



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