Oh, to be a millionaire. To make enough money so that you don’t even blink at the price of a new Macbook Pro or pair of Jimmy Choos, and weekends away would be more common than weekends at home. I don’t know about you but I haven’t quite made it to that point yet.
It can be hard to make ends meet sometimes, let alone actually have savings (an ISA? What even is that?!). Here’s how you can go from hopeless with money to healthy in just one week! We might not make you a millionaire, but these tips will make you feel more in control and hopefully allow you to start saving a little too.
Have a staring contest with your bank statement…
You can’t take control of your money without knowing what you’ve got. Even if the picture ain’t pretty, ignoring it won’t make it go away so face the figures and monitor them. Yes, looking at them alone won’t help, but knowing where you stand means you are in a much better place to help yourself.
Look into the past…
If you were asked to write a budget, how accurate would it be? Probably not very. So look back at your spending habits before you plan for the future. Get your statements from the last four months and, either by hand or in a spreadsheet, categorise all of your income and expenditure.
How much do you spend on food shopping, eating out, bills, petrol and transport, holidays, hobbies/activities, clothes etc? Having it laid out in front of you can help you see where you are over spending and plan better for the future.
Debt first save second…
If you have a loan or credit card, pay it off first. Before the new dress, the holiday, the fancy afternoon tea – pay off everything (and everyone) you owe before you start spending on non-essentials again. Boring, yes, but the interest is only going to accumulate so pay it off sooner rather than later and have fun spending your own, hard earned cash rather than what you’ve borrowed.
Keep noting, keep writing…
Make a note of every cash withdrawal and every transaction you make. Do you spend more in cash or card? Do you buy on the spur of the moment? Knowing and recognising your habits can help you stop buying things when you don’t really need them, or could have bought something cheaper. There are some great apps to help you with this – my favourite is Dollarbird (you can input any currency).
How many weekly shops is that pair of shoes?
Sometimes it helps not to think of things in terms of cash. For example, if your main weekly shopping costs you £40, the next time you want to buy a £20 necklace, remember you could buy half of a weekly shop with that.
For every skinny latte you buy at Starbucks you could get a tube journey or two litres of petrol. Sometimes, a different perspective is all you need to put your spending in context.
I always find I am more productive working to a goal or deadline. Set yourself a saving goal and a time limit, work out your monthly allowance and stick to it. Even if you have nothing to save for, you will one day need it – and you’ll be glad of the extra £500 when you’re asked to go to Paris for the weekend!
Switch it up…
Price comparison tools are constantly shoved in front of our faces, but how often do we use them to our advantage? Chances are you could save money on your bills with them. Look at your bank accounts too; what’s the interest like? Do they reward you at all?
What about your rent – could you find somewhere cheaper or closer to work to cut the commute cost? Even consider asking for a raise or looking for another job; if you settle you never know how much better you could be doing.
Teach yourself something new…
If you’re repeatedly spending money on new clothes because the old ones wore out, or you can’t put up a shelf on your own or change the oil in your car, learn how to do it yourself. Go on a haberdashery course, ask your friends to teach you to put up a shelf, actually ask they guy at the garage how to check simple things in your car – chances are there’s help out there and it can save you money by doing it yourself. It feels great to learn a new skill too – win-win!
and abuse your bank
Your bank isn’t just there to take your money (kidding…mostly). They have advisers in there to help you manage your money properly, so use them. Usually they’re free, and although they might mention the new fancy credit card that you really don’t want, they may also tell you how to get a higher rate on your savings, or that a different current account would suit your needs better. You never know until you ask!
How do you manage you money – could you have a better relationship with it?
By Genieve Crump
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