Each week, we ask experts to find solutions to your lockdown problems. Send yours to email@example.com and we’ll try to get you an answer. In this instalment: comfort shopping and whether it’s financially sensible.
Ben from Hackney says:
‘I seem to have developed a passion for online shopping during lockdown that I didn’t have before. It’s not like I’m supporting big corporations, I’m shopping local, but I’m mainlining fancy beer boxes, new clothes – treats rather than essentials. How much shopping is too much?’
John Ellmore, director of KnowYourMoney.co.uk, says:
‘Many people have turned to online shopping to fill time and provide a lift during the lockdown. It’s understandable and not something to feel too guilty about. The challenge is to assess what is a sensible purchase and what is not – and this will depend on each individual’s financial position.
‘Those who have not had their income affected by the current situation will likely have found that their finances have been boosted, with no money being spent on commuting or social outings. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), the average UK household spends £157.10 per week on transport as well as cultural and recreational activities – it can be tempting to now spend this money elsewhere.
‘However, I would urge everyone to take stock of their finances and keep an eye on the future. Ask yourself: do I have sufficient savings or incomings to ensure I could still pay for all my essentials if I were furloughed on 80 percent of my salary or, worse yet, made redundant?
‘People ought to seize the opportunity to assess their personal finances right now. After all, most of us have a little extra time to do it. Consider all of your outgoings and see where savings can be made – use this time to shop around for cheaper energy providers or better insurance deals, for example. Indeed, Ofgem states that the average household can save £300 per year by switching gas and electricity supplier.
‘There is still a need to treat ourselves from time to time. But shopping for non-essentials should only take place once you have completed a thorough review of your finances. Make sure you know that these purchases are affordable – and think ahead to whether that money might be better saved for potential rainy days ahead.’
John Ellmore is the director of KnowYourMoney.co.uk, an independent financial comparison website.