If you need a little help managing your finances, here are some clever tips to help you budget, clear debt and even save money.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many to reassess their finances. With some having to take a pay cut and furlough schemes coming to an end, it’s a good idea to take control of what’s going in and out of our bank accounts while the economy recovers. Managing money means careful organisation, especially if you’re struggling to make ends meet. Here are some simple steps to follow.
Review your finances and set goals
Get a good overall picture of your finances. Are you in more debt than you thought? What financial factors affected you most in 2020/21? What should you focus on to keep your money in check this year? There are always bumps in the road and unexpected financial blows can rear their heads unexpectedly.
Also, have a think about your financial goals for the year ahead, from moving home to that big birthday bash. Or maybe you just want to clear some of that debt or bolster your savings for retirement. The key here is to set realistic goals, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. But if you figure out your overall monetary position, without exaggerating amounts or underplaying debts, you’ll have a much better idea of how to tackle your 2022 financial ambitions.
Assess your outgoings
First things first, sit down and work out your budget. Note down all your basic living costs: rent, bills, credit card payments, food shopping, transport and any other essential outgoings. Then look for opportunities to cut costs, such as switching service providers or shopping for food somewhere cheaper.
Next, write down all the supplementary costs, such as memberships and subscriptions. Don’t just do this from memory but check what direct debits are set up on your bank account so you’re thorough with your finances. You may find you’re being charged for something you’ve forgotten about that could be cancelled easily and save you some cash each month.
Create a budget
This has to be a real knuckle-down-and-follow plan, leaving room to stash some cash away for savings. There’s no point in devising a vague outline that you won’t stick to. It’s about pinpointing where your money’s going and thinking how you can save on different elements or cut back.
Once you’ve evaluated all your outgoing costs, add them up then take the total away from your monthly income. Don’t think about spending money yet but decide how much of what’s left you’d like to save. Take that away and then split what’s left into a weekly budget. If you don’t think it’s enough, go back through the previous steps and try to cut back further, rather than dipping into the money you’d like to save.
To help stick to your weekly budget, you may find it helpful to withdraw the amount in cash each week or keep a spending diary. This can help you stay on track and also highlight any wasteful (or impulsive) purchases. Setting up another bank account or banking with Monzo can also help you to budget by allocating money and setting spending limits. Monzo promises to make budgeting easy with its online service and app, and you can set up an account in just a few minutes.
How to get help
If you find yourself with nothing to save and not enough to spend on essentials like clothing, shoes, furniture or home maintenance, you may be able to access a government budgeting loan. There are a number of options for government support that may be worth investigating. Find out what benefits, loans and grants are available by visiting gov.uk and moneyhelper.org.uk.
If you’re struggling with debts, focus on clearing the one with the highest interest rate. There are lots of free debt advice services you can turn to if that’s not enough.
How to get help managing your debt for free
StepChange Debt Charity
StepChange helps to change the lives of thousands of people every week. Its expert advice is impartial and personalised to each situation.
stepchange.org.uk 0800 138 1111
Debt Advice Foundation
Debt Advice Foundation is a national debt advice and education charity offering free, confidential support and advice to anyone worried about debt.
debtadvicefoundation.org 0800 043 40 50
National Debtline has helped millions of people with their debts. Staff will talk you through options and give clear advice on how to take back control.
nationaldebtline.org 0808 808 4000
PayPlan’s supportive team of advisers helps thousands of people beat their debts every year and all calls are treated in the strictest confidence.
payplan.com 0800 280 2816