Coping with an income drop after your partner dies

If your partner has recently died, you might not feel very confident when it comes to handling the money side of things.

You might also have to manage on less, especially if you depended on income that your partner was receiving. Find out how to get to grips with your reduced household budget.

Take stock of your situation

Add up all the money you’re getting on a regular basis. This might be from:

  • Work
  • Benefits
  • Pensions
  • Savings
  • Investments
Next make a list of all your regular outgoings and debts. 

These will include:

  • Household bills such as Council Tax, TV licence, utility bills, phone bills, food, clothing
  • Travel costs such as car or public transport
  • Mortgage or rent
  • Credit cards, store cards, other loans
  • Insurance

Use our Budget planner to see if you’ll have any shortfall

Getting through the next few months

Until you’ve completed the legal process for getting access to your partner’s personal assets, you won’t be able to access any money they held in their name. And you may have to wait months before any life insurance policy pays out. Also, it may take a while for any death-in-service benefits from your partner’s employer to come through.

If you’re worried about your current or short-term financial situation, here are some things to look at to help you get by.

Cutting costs

Now that you’ve got your basic budget, take a look to see if there are any opportunities to make a few cutbacks.

  • Spend some time looking at whether you can cut costs. For example cancelling mobile phone contracts or magazine subscriptions. It’s also worth checking other outgoings such as phone and broadband to see if you’re getting the best deal.
  • Could you save money on your energy bills, either by switching or by improving your home’s energy efficiency? Switching is straightforward and could save you more than £200 a year. Read Save energy, save money.
  • If you have a car, you may be able to cut your fuel, maintenance or insurance costs. Or if you use buses and trains a lot, there are ways to save here too, perhaps by buying advance tickets, or making use of any discounts you’re entitled to. Read Cut down on car and travel costs.
  • Installing a water meter could cut your water bill, because you just pay for the water you use. A water usage calculator can help you decide. Take a look at Save money on your water bill.
  • Switching to a different home phone, broadband and/or mobile phone provider could also save you money if you shop around for the best deal. Read Save money on your home phone and broadband and Save money on your mobile phone.
  • Cut the cost of your shopping by taking advantage of discount vouchers and coupons. Watch out for special offers and make sure they really do offer you a better deal.
  • Living on a low income – tips

See if you’re entitled to any benefits

See if you’re entitled to any benefits to help you through this initial period while you work things out.

Claiming bereavement and other benefits

Coping in the longer term

Getting through the first few months is key. But you also need to think about how you’ll get through in the longer term and if you’ll need to make some bigger decisions to help you have a more comfortable life.

Moving home

If your mortgage or rent is taking up a lot of your money each month, think about whether you would be better moving to a smaller home to free up some extra cash.

Increasing your income

If you can’t work or have decided not to go back to work, there are other ways of increasing your income.

For example, did you know that if you have a spare room in your home, the first £4,250 from renting it out would be tax free?

Rent a Room scheme – how it works and tax rules


Money Advice Service

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service. All information accurate at time of publication.