Life admin, we can all agree, is pretty dreary. In fact, Anne Helen Petersen coined the term “errand paralysis” to describe it (in this Buzzfeed article), that awful combination of burnout and dread that so many millennials - and others - feel afflicted by.
The life admin inbox overflows, the to-do list never gets anything ticked off of it, and the most mundane, basic tasks - finding quicker broadband, clearing up the mess in our desk space, organising our paperwork ahead of filing our tax returns - seem to grow more challenging the more desperate we are to avoid them.
Here’s the thing: life admin is so much worse if you let it creep up on you. Not only are you left with the hassle of having to get yourself organised, you’re often stung with something far worse, like a bigger bill.
It’s easy to feel intimidated by “adulting” - who knows how to find the best and most efficient energy plan for a household? - and to procrastinate on those tasks we’re most keen to avoid.
We break down the areas lots of us struggle with, looking at ways we can make more manageable and positive changes and readdress our outlook to make those admin tasks more bearable.
The tax-related admin to get on top of
The UK tax year runs until April 5, 2021, and whether you need to file paperwork or not, it’s an opportunity to take stock of your finances - and help you prepare for the tax year ahead.
We’d recommend not waiting until the last possible moment to organise yourself, but to think about your financial and savings goals in the weeks and months ahead of the end of the tax year.
If you have an ISA - a tax-free savings account - can you even remember the last time you checked it? ISAs let you earn tax-free interest on your savings, allowing you to save flexibly, but they’re not all created equal. Websites like Compare the Market allow you to weigh up different ISAs to see which one works best for your situation, which can be helpful since ISA rates can change at any time of year.
You can also use Compare the Market’s online Bills Calculator to compare your outgoings on broadband, energy and home contents with what others in your area are paying. Simply input a few details about your home, and the Bills Calculator can help you determine if you’re paying over the odds for anything.
Employees who are working from home at the moment due to the pandemic may also be able to claim tax relief on everything from home office equipment to heating, home contents insurance, a new broadband connection and more. Employees can either claim £6 a week from April 6, 2020, or get reimbursed for the exact purchases they’ve made (receipts are required).
Making your money do more for you
Many of our life admin hassles revolve around finances: paying off debts, maximising our savings, cutting our spending and taking control of our money.
Getting on top of debt is a big financial goal for some this year, although many financial experts would argue that setting up an emergency fund is just as critical, perhaps even more so. An emergency fund will have at least three months’ of living expenses in the bank and acts as a safety buffer to help you deal with any periods of job uncertainty or unexpected bills that crop up.
This could be especially helpful to those who have struggled to save since the first lockdown was announced in March 2020: over a third of UK households, according to new research from Compare the Market’s Household Financial Confidence Tracker. One-fifth of the 2,000 adults surveyed admitted to feeling less financially secure this time around, compared with previous lockdowns.
Ensuring your money is in the best place, and that you’re accessing all of the benefits you can, is one way to potentially put more in your bank account. So while the anti-life admin side of you wants to keep your cash where it is... if you switch current accounts, there is often a cash incentive, or special gifts and discounts to benefit from.
Figuring out which credit cards have the lowest interest rates and finding savings accounts that offer better rates are also easy fixes when it comes to our finances. Your one-stop shop for price comparisons on credit cards and current and savings accounts? Compare the Market, which will help you see what other deals are available by organising them in one place.
Getting on top of your utilities
Nothing causes more life admin related stress than when something goes wrong in the home: the internet ceases to work, the heating fails, the TV won’t turn on. Finding the best energy provider requires some research: which one is the greenest, the best value, the best rated, the ideal one for your circumstances?
Luckily, you don’t have to do all of the hard work when it comes to finding the answers to these questions, and the many others that will crop up in your search. You don’t have to do any of it, in fact.
AutoSergei can check deals for you: he’ll compare gas and electricity, showcasing various offers to help you save on both and automatically searching for better energy deals. AutoSergei notifies you if there is a superior deal to the tariff you’re on. For home and car insurance, AutoSergei alerts customers to new prices 11 months after they first input their information, providing quotes based on the amount you entered the previous year (you don’t automatically get these updates; you’ll need to sign up).
So that’s the secret to life admin - it’s all doable with the right digital tools.
Meerkat Your Bills, Meerkat Your Life with Compare the Market’s online comparison tools