Life is so much easier when you have good and stable financial skills – and you don’t need to have a degree in economics to achieve this. Being good with your money takes unnecessary stress off your shoulder and shows a clearer financial view on your present and future money situation.
If you’re struggling to meet ends meet or just want to save yourself more money, here are 10 tips to improve your money management habits.
1. Creating a monthly financial spreadsheet
This doesn’t need to be a boring and tedious task. Having a financial spreadsheet lets you easily see how much money you have coming in and going out. You can simply set one of these up using Excel or Numbers software. I update mine every pay day and it makes managing my money a million times easier.
Simply put in your salary then list your taxes and pensions, list your expenses (including any debts) and take them all away from your salary. You can use the software to formulate so this happens automatically without any mathematical skills needed – making it even simpler!
After all your expenses are taken away, you can then see whats left, easily allowing you see your disposable income. From this, you can create a monthly budget sum and even put some into savings.
2. Setting yourself a monthly budget
Having a monthly budget really helps you live within your limits and reach the financial goals you want. You can simply just set yourself an amount of money to live by and stick to it. Create this budget for your day to day life.
The easiest way to do this is the create a budget account. Having a separate account and bank card for your monthly budget makes it easier for you see what you have to spend. You can easily do this with your bank, by creating a new current account (you can even do this online in a few minutes). You can also use smart banking like Starling and Monzo to keep your monthly budget away from the rest of your money.
I budget my monthly spending to £400-500 a month, giving me around £100 a week. I think that for me, this is a good amount to have. I comfortably and happily spend my money socialising, weekly food shops and living my day to day life. However, only you know whats best for you – so be realistic.
3. Keeping track of your budget
Having yourself a budget is useless unless you actually use and keep track of it. Ensure you look back on the amount in your budget account every few days to track your spending. Small purchases will add up quickly, so it’s best to know how much money you have in your account.
Smart banking like Starling Bank and Monzo make it super easy to keep track. They give you real time transaction phone notifications so you can see straight away what money you have left to spend right at your fingertips (online major bank apps which takes a few days to process the transaction).
If you don’t fancy the smart banking option, keep track of your finances manually. Whilst at university, I used to note down every purchase made just in my notes app on my phone. It only took a few seconds to do and when you get into the habit of it, it’s becomes second nature to note it down.
Starling Bank App
4. Go Cashless
Maybe it’s just the millennial in me, but I found going cashless made it so much easier for me to keep track of my money. I always found myself with odd coins here and there or not having enough cash for a purchase, so using my card anyway. Going cashless means you have total control and knowledge of money in your account, without worrying about random coins lying around your house or coat pockets.
Like in the previous point, using the smart phone banking apps lets you see exactly how much money you have to spend – so theres no reason why you can’t go cashless. All major shops and services take card payments and recently, even small and local businesses are taking card payments (even charity shops!).
5. Think before you spend
This is something that you will train yourself to do the more you do it. When making a purchase, small or large, think to yourself if you can really afford it and if you really need it? Will it really add purpose to your life or will you discard it in a few weeks or months? Think of the value that it will bring into your life rather than the process of saving yourself money – it makes it much easier.
The way I think when I make a purchase is to compare it to other things at the same price point and ask myself, is it really worth that much money and do I really need it? As I love travelling, I always compare purchases to flights… a £30 return flight to Europe or a £30 jumper I don’t really need?
6. Leave out the credit cards
Unless you know how to manage your money, credit cards are your worst enemy. Stay clear of using credit cards because that is money that you do not have and still have to pay it back. Take the view that if you don’t have the money to spend on something, then don’t buy it – don’t get yourself into having a huge credit card bill at the end of the month that you can’t pay back.
I do have a credit card which I use for foreign transactions only, as my bank provides an excellent card with no foreign transactions. However, I do not add this credit on top of my monthly budget. Once the purchase on my credit card is made, I immediately transfer money from my monthly budget account to my credit card – not waiting for a nasty credit card bill at the end of the month.
7. Living by your means
Something that has been drilled into my by my parents is to live by your means. This is essentially to live the lifestyle according to your salary. If you currently only have the salary to shop in high street fashion retailers instead of designer, then that’s what you do. Don’t pretend you have the money to spend when your bank account is sat there struggling to stay afloat.
I have had friends and ex-housemates who would spend their money like they were earning well over their salary, often finding themselves broke by middle of the month. Often it was either to keep up with others or to impress others.
Being able to be strong minded and not following what others are doing will help you keep on top of your finances, allowing you not only to be in total control of your expenditure, but to spend it on things you really want to, not what others are.
8. Adding to your savings regularly
Whether you are saving for a house, a holiday or just for a rainy day, adding to your savings regularly is a healthy habit to get into. You’re not only thinking your financial future, but it also gives you a pot of money for emergencies (which is always important to have when the boiler unexpectedly breaks).
Of course, if you’re a student or on a low salary, the idea of having spare money to put aside might seem like an impossible affair, but it doesn’t need to be. Any spare money, whether its £10 or £100, it will change your habits and will add up eventually. Whatever money I have leftover from my monthly budget, instead of carrying it over to next month, I just put it into my savings (sometimes its a few pounds, but sometimes it’s a lot more).
If you really want to save, you can set up an automatic transfer to your savings on pay day. This will mean that you won’t even see the money before you have put into your savings. This also saves you the time and effort!
9. Getting the best price for your purchases
Don’t be afraid to shop around the best deal on your purchases – especially when it comes to bills. Don’t feel like you need to stay with one provider because you’ve been with them for a long time. If there is a better and more affordable option, take it.
I used to pay around £25 a month for my phone deal but switched provider at the end of my contract as they offered better perks, more data inclusion and were £13 cheaper a month. Use websites like GoCompare and MoneySupermarket to easily compare deals.
10. Removing unnecessary monthly expenses/subscriptions
Yes, I’m talking to you in the back who’s only used that £25 a month gym membership twice in the past year. I think everyone’s guilty of having a monthly subscription to something that they don’t really use or need. Calculate whether you are actually getting the most out of these subscriptions and if you can live without them.
For example, are you just using the gym once or twice a week to just use the treadmill? Cancel the membership and go for a run – it’s free and much better for your lungs.
To reduce the cost of some subscriptions, think about sharing them with friends or family. For example, the basic Netflix subscription allows two people to watch at one time, so my mum and I share an account. This means we share the subscription cost, meaning we just pay £4 a month each instead of £8. Such an easy save.
Being good with your money will take time and practice – don’t just expect to wake up one morning to your finances in order. The more you take on these simple tips and changing your financial habits, the easier you will find it to manage your money and the closer you’ll get to your financial goals.
Until next time – live your best life, low cost!
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