Beating the Budget

Whether you’re single or married with children, own your house or rent it, are working or not, Wednesday’s Budget could have affected you, your finances and your future.
To help make sense of it all, we’ve spoken to people from a range of backgrounds to show how the Chancellor’s speech will make a difference to them.

To help kick-start your finances and Beat The Budget it’s wise to ensure your credit rating is healthy, to help you make the best financial decisions and be best-placed to manage it.

Know your credit report. This is a personal history of the credit you’ve had and the repayments you’ve made – lenders use when you apply for a mortgage, so it makes sense to see what’s in it. It’s free to see your Experian credit report with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert.

1. The student
Name: Lawrence
Occupation: Post-graduate student
From: Hampshire

I’m training to become a primary school teacher, which means I’m on a tight, fixed budget. Unexpected outgoings or increases cause real problems.  Once I’ve graduated, I want to go travelling. The aim is to save over the next 12 months, so I need to gradually cut back my spending – if I can.  The big concern is growing transport costs. I travel almost exclusively by bus and can’t cut back much further – if I need to travel, I need to travel.

Monthly outgoings
• Travel: £220 +. My bus pass costs me £20 a week, plus more for the tube and £60 in rail fare
• Rent: £720
• Socialising: £280
• Bills: £100

How the budget affects Lawrence
As a student, the 1p reduction in alcohol duty will be a small but welcome change. The freeze in fuel duty may also keep his travel expenses steady – at least for the time being. If Lawrence is looking to get on the property ladder, the Help to Buy scheme could be ideal for him, offering a 20% loan on the value of a new home with a 5% deposit.

As someone with a fixed income, careful use of credit can be vital. But if he is looking to take time off to travel, he needs to think about staying within the agreed credit limits, always making his repayments on time.  He might want to set up direct debits to make sure his regular bills get paid on time while he’s away.

2. The young professional
Name: Robert
Occupation: Business analyst
From: Cardiff

My wife and I have just recently bought our first house but it needs a lot of expensive renovation so we’re also renting. We have no savings whatsoever so I am planning on taking out a loan to help with the costs.

All of our money is directed at our housing and travel requirements at the moment. Petrol prices and interest rates are my biggest concern. We really can’t afford to see prices balloon – even for a short time.

Monthly outgoings
• Housing: £450 mortgage plus rent on two properties – my wife works in Liverpool and rents somewhere there
• Travel: £400 on petrol – we spend a fortune driving to meet each other at weekends
• Socialising: £50. Whereas once I might have gone out a few times a week, now it’s more like a few times a month
• Pension contributions: 3%

How the budget affects Robert
The freeze on fuel duty will be welcomed by Robert and his wife, given how far they drive each week. Should they look to start a family soon, up to £1,200 in childcare vouchers will also be hugely welcome. Increasing the personal allowance to £10,000 should eventually make them around £700 better off – but they may be wary of the higher rate 40% tax threshold dropping to £41,450.

Borrowing more money on top of a mortgage may not seem like a good idea, but the sooner he Robert’s house is ready, the sooner he can cut his rent and travel costs.

3 The hard-working family
Name: Natalie
Occupation: NHS worker
From: Worcestershire

My partner declared himself bankrupt when we found out I was pregnant, to write off his debts so we could manage household costs better and move in together. That was bad advice. We’ve managed to save enough for a deposit but we’re struggling to find a mortgage and meanwhile house prices are going up and up. As we both work, childcare costs are a massive outgoing for us. I’m hoping for something to help there and to help with house prices.

Monthly outgoings
• Childcare: £400
• Travel: £320
• Household: £400
• Social: £300

How the budget affects Natalie
The Budget’s three headline measures could make a great difference to Natalie and her partner. Covering up to 20% of childcare costs, up to a maximum of £1,200, will help with one of their biggest outgoings. The Help to Buy scheme could let them take their first step on the property ladder – depending on how her partner’s bankruptcy is managed. And increasing the amount they can earn tax free could be eventually worth £700 between the pair of them.

Should they opt for a joint mortgage, the bankruptcy is likely to seriously affect their options, as his data would affect the decision and they would also become linked, affecting future credit applications in her name.  Keeping their finances separate in the short term – and a mortgage in only her name – might make life easier, as then his poor credit record won’t come into it, unless they have joint credit elsewhere.