One of the many services that Pharmacist Support offers is our Specialist Advice Service. Working in partnership with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, confidential specialist advice is provided in the areas of benefits and tax credits, debt and employment law. Here we chat about managing finances with our adviser William.
Have you noticed any issues specific to pharmacists that differ from other clients that you work with?
As a rule the problems faced by pharmacists are usually similar to those of other professions when debt issues arise. However, the overriding message received from many pharmacists is their concerns on how they will be viewed within the profession and by the professional governing body. This particularly seems to affect their ability to choose debt management options that in some cases may include insolvency which could be appropriate for their individual needs.
These concerns and that of personal credit ratings can have a serious impact on effective debt strategies that could otherwise be employed. It is worthwhile for the individual to make themselves conversant with the professional governing body view on this. It is my experience that there is no risk to practising as a pharmacist with debt and being subject to insolvency. It is advised for individuals to check their employment contracts for any clauses which may arise regarding personal indebtedness and if this would impact on their employment.
Are there any common issues that people speak to you about a lot? What do you usually recommend?
The common issues usually relate to unexpected and often acute changes in personal circumstances. This can present clients with particularly difficult choices that need to be made. Each individual’s needs are different to that of another. The common issue is trying to budget when there has been a considerable drop in income or when faced with unexpected or traumatic events. I usually recommend exploring all options and trying to formulate one which may help to improve their needs. Each choice is personal and individual.
Keeping on top of finances can be quite daunting, what do you think is the best way to approach keeping track of your expenditure?
Construct a basic income and expenditure record. Make sure the important priority expenditures (rent, mortgage, council tax and utilities etc.) are met. The priority expenditure is usually consistent and remains the same each month. Make sure payment dates fall after the time when income is received. If not, change standing orders and direct debits to payment dates that suit.
The remaining surplus income can be apportioned for each individual expenditure, for example; food, housekeeping, travel and other expenditure. The key is to try (if possible) to work within the budget for each expenditure. This does not have to be rigid and expenditure for each can be fluid and vary month by month to suit personal needs.
Phone apps for banking are useful. It is advised to check bank balances regularly to keep up to date with personal finances. If you spot any anomalies you can then react quickly and try to rectify and problems.
The above, however, would only be effective when there is sufficient income to manage expenditure. When there is a deficit it is worthwhile seeing if expenditure could be trimmed to allow for a balanced budget. Seek advice if there are problems and difficulties organising any of the above. Never ignore the problem as it will not go away.
What are your top five tips for effective money management?
- Never ignore the problem
- Seek advice immediately and be informed about the situation
- Make a budget and try to adhere to it within your available means
- Be realistic on expenditure and expectations on what you can do
- Seek out and use management tools to help i.e. phone apps and online budgeting tools