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Wouldn’t it be lovely if that old saying ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ was true? Unfortunately, in the world we live in, money is the key to a stable life and the ability to buy everything you need. While it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re happy, most people would agree that struggling to make ends meet isn’t great for their mental health or emotional wellbeing.
If you feel like you’re playing Russian Roulette with your debit card and constantly dip into your savings account, then it’s time to think about how you can make your money go further.
Stick around because this post will help you save more, spend less and enjoy more financial security.
Ready? Let’s go.
Look at Your Monthly Spending
Do your wages go into your bank account every month, but there’s never enough to make ends meet? Surprisingly, a lot of people have the same problem. In fact, according to Nationwide, one in five people spend half of their wages within 48 hours of receiving them – and that excludes necessary payments like mortgage, rent and bills!
The fact is, we live in a highly accessible society, and that means it’s much easier to spend money. All you need to do is use your phone to make a quick purchase, so impulse buying is more of an issue now than it would have been 20 years ago.
So, the question is, where is your money going?
Create an Incomings and Outgoings Sheet
It’s a good idea to note how much you’re spending each month, and if you can go back over at least three months, you’ll get a better idea of your overall spending.
- Add your monthly income to the sheet and subtract your essential outgoings such as mortgage, rent, credit card and loan repayments, transport and energy bills.
- Add up your general living expenses, including your TV, phone, broadband and food shop.
- Look over everything else you’ve spent money on, including clothing, leisure activities, takeaways, and anything that isn’t an essential expense.
- Add everything together, and subtract it from your income.
Evaluate Your Spending Habits
Once you have an idea of your spending habits, you can look at where the problem lies. For example, if your essential living costs outweigh your income, then it’s likely you have a debt problem, and those monthly repayments are eating away at your income.
But if you can cover essential living costs, you’re spending too much on other things that you could reduce. Knowing this can give you an idea of how to budget accordingly.
Use The Needs and Wants Method
Many years ago, the basic human needs were food, water and shelter. There were no shops or latest trends, but things are very different today. However, your perception of what you ‘need’ is more often a ‘want’, and it’s essential to separate the two.
For example, your food shop, household bills and transport are essential. We all need to eat, and a big part of having adequate shelter is being able to heat your home. We need to work to pay for these things, so transport is essential – but how important are the other items you buy each month?
By separating your monthly spending into two columns, you’ll be able to manage your expenses more easily.
Let’s look at some examples where needs and wants might get confused.
TransportWhether you use public transport or own a car, most people would agree it’s a necessity. But are you spending more than you need to? Your need is to get from A to B, but how you do that could be costing you a lot of extra money. For example, do you take taxis home from the train station? That 15-minute walk will save you money and contribute to your daily exercise. What about your car? Is it an expensive model that costs a fortune in tax and insurance? Why not look for a cheaper model that’s still reliable but won’t break the bank?
Food is an essential expense for every family, but how much does the average household of four spend on their weekly food shop? According to NimbleFins, the average family spends £3132 a year on groceries alone and £1716 on eating out and takeaways.
Yes, food is a need, but many people don’t think about how much they spend on their groceries each week. For example, buying branded foods from companies like Heinz and Kellogg’s could be cutting into your budget, but supermarkets own foods often taste the same.
Not only that, but they’re much cheaper. As you can see from this Daily Mail article, there are budget options for your favourite brands, and many of them are half the price of your favourite brands.
Mobile, Internet & TV CostsYou can apply the needs and wants a method to pretty much anything, including phone and broadband tariffs, electricity bills and your TV subscriptions. Streaming services might seem cheap, but the costs mount up each month – especially if you have all of the big apps. By subscribing to one app at a time, you could save around £20 a month, and it’s the same for your phone and broadband deals. The latest iPhone or Samsung mobile phone might seem like a must-have, but with contracts costing a minimum of £40 a month, is having the newest gadget worth it?
Boosts Your Savings Account With a Financial Challenge
Money-saving challenges are all the rage right now – and for a good reason. They get people spending less and saving more through a series of tips and exercises over a month or a year. Depending on the challenge you choose, you can save between £300 to £7000 in a year, which is an excellent use for your extra cash.
The problem for most people is that they want to save money but lack the discipline to put that money aside. There are plenty of apps that do the work for you, so you don’t need to worry about anything apart from setting up an account.
Better still, most apps have FCFS protection of up to £85,000, which means your money will be safe, and you’ll have a go-to emergency fund. Click here for a list of great automatic savings apps.
Be Smart With Your Spending
There are many ways to save money, but you usually have to look for a better deal. How often have you been offered a loyalty card and refused because you didn’t have the time to register? Do you know where you’re spending the most money on heat and electricity?
By being smart with your spending, you can make the most of your monthly budget. Let’s look at a couple of examples.
Reduce Your Energy Bills and Save Money
If your energy bills are becoming an issue, finding a cheaper energy supplier can save you money. However, switching providers isn’t always a practical solution – especially if your primary problem is a lack of efficiency.
Older boiler systems are a significant contributor to higher energy bills – but switching to a more efficient model will reduce your usage potentially by 20-35%.
It’s also important to look at how well your home retains heat. Gaps under doors, a lack of roof insulation, and no double glazing mean you’re throwing money away every time you turn the heating on, but a small change can make a big difference.
Don’t Forget About Loyalty Schemes
Whether you’re walking around your favourite stores or online shopping, it’s important to remember that most businesses offer discount codes and loyalty points to their customers. It might not seem like a big deal, but you can further your money by collecting and using your reward points.
Schemes like Tesco Clubcard and high street loyalty cards are worth looking into, and the few minutes it takes to sign up could make a significant impact on your future finances.
Pay Off Your Credit Cards
Credit cards can be handy, but they can also be the quickest path to severe debt problems. Yes, you get to buy something in advance and pay it off later, but most people find they’re left with high-interest rates, and the problem continues to spiral out of control.
A big part of budgeting is accepting what you can and can’t afford. Whether it’s clothes, a luxury holiday or general stuff, we recommend you only use your credit card if you know you can pay off the total amount before the interest rates kick in.
Getting into debt can lead to issues with your mental health, and in severe cases, you might even have to file for bankruptcy – which impacts your future finances.
To pay your debts on time, use the same rule as saving regularly. Set up a direct debit and make sure it goes to your credit card payments each month so you can maintain a stable financial situation.
The Bottom Line
Money management might seem like a headache, but with some planning and a commitment to building a better financial future, anyone can save money and avoid getting into debt. Hopefully, the tips in this post give you an idea of where to start, but if you’re in debt already, there’s plenty of help available.
At UpSave, we specialise in working with people to find effective debt relief solutions, such as Individual Voluntary Arrangements and Debt Relief Orders. Ultimately, we work hard to help our clients avoid bankruptcy.
If you’d like to take advantage of a free consultation, please feel free to contact us today.