Richard Beastall

In these unprecedented times, everyone is worried about how to manage their personal and business finances, so they can weather the storm. Having experienced times where what is coming in is less than what needs to go out, I know how this feels, and can hopefully offer some advice.

Its horrible, stressful and the cause of sleepless nights. The good news is there is plenty you can do, and lots of help and sympathy is available. Even better, we as humans want to help each other and this is the case now more than ever.

Rather than hide from the problem you need to meet it head-on. It will only get worse if you don't deal with it.

I find it's best to start with what you are spending rather than what's coming in. This is the bit you have more control over.

Write down a list of everything you currently spend. Rent/Taxes/Loans/Necessities/Luxuries get them all down along with what each item costs you.

Now the hard brutal.

What can you do without, and what must be paid? If you can live without it, or won't use it, how do you stop paying for it?

Next, contact those you want to stop or postpone payments with, and explain your situation. If you can get out of it immediately, do so. I have no doubt there will be some pretty amazing deals on offer to get your business back once a degree of normality returns. If you are in a contract, ask to postpone payments for the whole sum, or failing that, the capital repayment element of a loan.

In terms of loans, there are some great interest rates available right now, so there may be an opportunity to refinance them to get your repayments down. Think carefully before doing this, and avoid the temptation to borrow more money at all costs.

In my experience, most businesses are pretty sympathetic and will help or allow you to reduce services or take a payment holiday. As an example, in the last few weeks, I've spoken to Sky who let me have a payment holiday, Easyjet to tell me I can move my flights free of charge, and my bank to tell me they are here to help. One or two others haven't been so helpful when I've asked for assistance. I won't be renewing with them when the time comes.

In having these conversations, remember you have nothing to lose, the worst you can be told is no, which leaves you in the same place you started.

You should now be left with a list of stuff you need to pay and you'll be surprised with how much lower it is than your starting point.

Now its time to look at your income and any savings you have, does this cover your basic expenditure for the next 3-6 months?

If so great you're done, if you're lucky there may be the opportunity to switch a luxury or two back on.

If not, don't worry, go back to your list of expenditure, and ask yourself were you brutal enough? Is there something you can cancel that will hurt but you can live without? Can you buy less expensive replacements for your necessities such as supermarket home brand ranges?

If you've been really honest with yourself and still can't make ends meet, its time to pick up the phone again to those who said no to you the first time around.

In my experience, this does generally get a more favourable response, particularly if you can outline in detail the steps you have taken. Ultimately it is in their interests if you can pay something back, no matter how small, whether that be now or at some point in the future. If you're still not getting a satisfactory response, ask to speak to someone more senior. There is almost always someone who can bend the rules a bit further.

Finally, and most importantly, stay calm, be honest with yourself and try not to worry. Its scary, stressful and can cause you sleepless nights, but if you face it head-on and take these steps, you'll be in a much better place than if you did nothing.

What are you waiting for? Get on with it, you'll feel much better. I promise.

Richard Beastall is a finance director with more than 15 years of experience as the finance leader in a variety of businesses and industries.