Are you the type of person that spends without checking their bank balance until it’s a little too late, and then survives on a credit card for the rest of the month? If so, you’re probably in need of a money detox; a good plan to get your personal finances in check and on the road to actually having some savings of your own.
It can be really tricky to find ways to manage your income when you feel like you’re constantly drowning, but with these money-saving tips you’ll be able to reach your financial goals in a reasonable amount of time.
1. Review Your Spending Habits
This can be really tough but to begin, take a look at your credit card bill and cross out every purchase or event that was associated with being hungry, lonely, tired or angry. Once you’ve identified past emotional spending mistakes, you’ll be able to avoid making them again down the line and, in effect, identify where you can make a few cutbacks.
2. Make a Budget
Following on from the previous point, once you have identified how much you spend on rent, utility bills, petrol, food and other expenses, you’ll need to set yourself a budget per month to stick to. If you don’t think you can do this yourself, there are several apps you can download, like Mint, that will link to your bank account and alert you if you’re close to going over your financial plan.
3. Get a Low Interest Loan
If you’re in desperate need of money to pay off a high interest credit card bill, a low interest or interest-free personal loan may be the way to do it. It’s really important to do your research and avoid personal loan scams when you’re trying to get yourself out of a rut. Once you’re back on your feet, make sure you pay off your loan within your allotted time, before you receive unnecessary charges to put yourself further into debt.
4. Set up a Savings Account
If you don’t have a savings account already, it’s time to get the ball rolling and set one up that has a good interest percentage. Any money you invest will gain a certain percentage of interest if you don’t touch it. Make sure to do your research and see what packages different banks are offering.
5. Use Comparison Sites
Using a good comparison website – like Money Saving Expert, for example – when setting up your savings account can help you discover the best options for you. You should also shop around before making any payments. For example, Compare the Market will help you find the cheapest insurance, while Skyscanner and Booking.com can aid with travel, and mySupermarket can help you save on food and home shopping.
6. Build an Emergency Fund
An emergency fund is so important in times of need – instead of reaching for your credit card when your car breaks down, you’ll give a sigh of relief when you have your own savings to rely on. Start by saving between 10–15% of your wage until you have built up six months’ worth of basic living expenses.
7. Set Yourself a Goal to Help You Save
Budgeting and managing savings can be really difficult, especially when you receive an email that your dream shoes are on discount (how can you resist a good bargain?) but do you really need those shoes? Set yourself a goal to save for, whether it’s a holiday, house renovation or even for a future shopping spree – but be sure to actually have the funds before you splash out!
8. Spend within Your Means
No matter what you earn, it’s wise to live below your means. Think about what’s important to you and what you actually need to buy so you don’t end up penniless at the end of the month. Give yourself enough financial margin in your budget so you’re not stressed about money all the time. And as Hollywood actor Will Smith put it: ‘Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like'.
9. Find Ways of Making Extra Money
Getting a side gig could be a good option for you to add some extra cash to your back pocket and start paying off your debts or adding it to your savings. If you don’t have time for a second job or freelance work, you could rummage through your stuff and sell anything you haven’t used or don’t want that is in good condition at a car boot sale or even online. A good rule is: if you haven’t used it in 18 months, you probably never will again. And like the saying goes: one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
Another way you can make money is by trying your luck with high-return investments. That said, whether you’re buying 10 stocks downright or you’re focusing on building a portfolio of high dividend stocks, you shouldn’t be purchasing in just one sector. You must diversify your portfolio to offset losses.
10. Take Advantage of Discounts
Take advantage of any discounts that are available to you, whether that’s coupon codes or any memberships that your company offers. It might not seem a lot to you at the time but it all adds up when you put all your savings together.
11. Automate Your Savings
Put your savings on autopilot by setting up automatic transfers or deposits into your account. You can do this through a budget-tracking app like LearnVest or by setting up a direct debit through your bank.
12. Ask for a Raise
If you’ve been at your company for a while and haven’t had a pay increase, it may be time to ask for a raise or a bonus. It’s also a good idea to check what others are earning in your field with your experience so you can get your money’s worth. Sites like Glassdoor, PayScale and Salary.com are all great places to start.
13. Pay off Your Debt
If you have student finance or a personal loan hanging over your head, it’s time you set up a plan and start making repayments. Having a lot of debt revolving for a long period of time will damage your credit rating. It doesn’t mean that you have to pay it off all in one go, but regular payments will ensure your credit score is in check.
14. Contribute to a Retirement Plan
If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’re probably not thinking about your retirement – I mean, you have your whole life ahead of you, what’s there to worry about? A lot, actually! The time will soon creep up and it’ll be too late to have your own personal savings. And the earlier you put money in your retirement fund, the more time it will have to grow through compound growth. On that note, it’s a wise idea to set up your own private pension if your company doesn’t offer one or increase your payments so your employer can match your monthly deposits.
15. Invest in Something That Will Give You a Return
Money sat in the bank isn’t likely to give you a high return due to such low interest rates. However, an investment like a property or business will eventually give you an added income. You could also devote some of your savings to further education, which will get you a higher paying job in the future.
16. Update Your Insurance Policy
Investing in insurance is something most millennials overlook until it’s too late. Get a good healthcare, house and life cover to make sure that in time of need you can depend on them and not scrounge around looking for ways to pay for hospital bills or repairs.
17. Simplify Your Life
If you really can’t budget any more than you do, it might be time to simplify your life and have a good work-life balance. Do you need your high maintenance car or can you get something different that will work out cheaper for you? Do you really need to stay in a five-star resort on your next trip or can you travel for half the price? Find ways to live simpler that will make you happier in the long run.
18. Get Organised for the Year Ahead
Does it always come round to Christmas and once again you whack gifts on your card as you have no savings? Don’t let that happen next year! Make sure you allocate some funds towards things like bills, insurance, gifts, car services, etc once a month, so when the time comes you aren’t frantically panicking about how to make the payment.
If you’ve never been in control of your finances, these tips will set you on the right path and will help eliminate unnecessary stress in your life. You will have a better grip on your money and have a safety net to fall back on in the case of an emergency.
Do you have any personal finance tips to add? If so, join in on the conversation below to let us know.