What does Brexit mean for your money?

Expert advice from MoneySuperMarket

Updated: 
breakaway problem from the European Union

To say we live in uncertain times would be an understatement.

The referendum vote for the UK to leave the European Union has triggered massive political upheaval and, along with it, worries about the nation's finances.

That means all of us will have concerns about our own financial situation. So let's have a look at some of the common questions

Q. Should I be worried about the economy – prices, interest rates, jobs?

Those who campaigned against Brexit fear the UK could be excluded from international trade deals, leaving the country isolated on the global stage.

The pro-Brexit camp, meanwhile, says the UK will flourish outside the restrictions of EU membership.

The truth is, no-one can say for sure what is going to happen, and when. We still don't have a timetable for leaving the EU, and some are suggesting we might not leave after all.

But what we have seen is a weakening of sterling on foreign exchange markets, which expensive imports, putting pressure on prices for everything from food and clothes to energy and white goods.

Buying currency such as the euro and US dollar also costs more – bad news at the height of the holiday season.

That said, the actual process of travelling overseas – passports, visas, insurance – won't change for the foreseeable future.

But the flipside is that a weak pound will make UK exports cheaper, strengthening the position of firms that sell abroad and perhaps enabling them to take on more staff.

Q. Is there anything I can do to protect myself?

If the nation's economic outlook is unsure, it makes sense to inject some certainty into your household finances.

So make sure you're not spending more than is absolutely necessary on energy, phones, broadband and insurance.

Same goes for credit cards and banks accounts – are you getting the best value for money, and is your money working as hard for you as it possibly can?

And have you got a rainy day fund? It's always a good idea to have some cash put aside in case you run into financial difficulties or other challenges, such as losing your job, or falling seriously ill for a lengthy spell.

If you've got any more to spare at the end of the month, think about salting it away in a savings account paying a competitive rate of interest.

Q. What's going to happen to my mortgage?

If you're on a fixed mortgage deal (these usually lasts for two to five years, although there are 10 year deals available), your monthly payment will stay the same, whatever happens, until your deal expires.

That's good news if rates go up. But the flipside of this is that, if you're on a fix and rates fall, you'll miss out on potential savings.

If you're on a standard variable rate (SVR) deal, you are more exposed to interest rate changes, because rates – and therefore your payments – are subject to change.

So if you're worried about rates going up and having to pay more each month, you could switch to a fixed deal – although remember there'd be costs involved.

In other words, fixing would give you certainty, but you'd miss out if interest rates fell.

Q. How about my savings?

As with mortgage rates, savings rates are affected by interest rates – which could go either way (or stay the same).

And just like mortgage deals, you can get a bit of peace of mind by switching your savings to a fixed deal where the rate of interest you earn on your money is protected.

Q. Will Brexit make gas and electricity more expensive?

We import a lot of fuel, so currency movements affect the UK's buying power when it comes to gas in particular.

Wholesale energy prices are already showing signs of heading upwards, raising the spectre of domestic price increases later in 2016.

You can insulate yourself from this threat by locking into a fixed rate tariff that lasts for 12 or 24 months. That way, you'll have the peace of mind of knowing that the rate you pay for your energy won't change, regardless of what happens elsewhere.

It's also worth remembering that the most competitive fixed rate tariffs typically cost hundreds of pounds less per year than standard variable rates – which about 40% of the population are on.

Q. Will petrol and diesel prices go up?

As with energy prices, Brexit's effect on the pound could make it more expensive to import oil, which could push up pump prices for motorists.

Since the result there's been a slight fuel price rise, and some experts are predicting a 5p to 8p per litre increase over the coming weeks, but we'll have to wait and see whether that happens.

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.