Here at Account Money, we’re passionate about helping people discover their financial freedom. We know, from experience, that sorting out your personal finances gives you a clear head. It takes an enormous weight off your shoulders, and the pressure instantly fades away. Over the years, we’ve picked up plenty of tricks to effective savings, budgeting, and even investing. In this post, we’re going to dig deep into our resources, and show you the best solutions.
Best of all, we’ll show you simple, quick solutions. Taking a positive step towards your personal finances is all about the small changes you can make. Take bite-sized chunks out of your budget, and it all adds up to a big saving. Without further ado, let’s dive into the essential techniques.
Write out a budget
Your first job is to take a good hard look at your personal finances and make a plan. It’s so easy to hide from your finances. We all ignore the statements when we’re struggling with money. We avoid logging into our accounts, and instinctively put money on the credit card. If you’re going to achieve a better cash-flow, that attitude needs to change! It’s time to face up to your accounts, and make a detailed plan. This plan should include your targeted savings, outgoings, and debt repayments. It all starts by writing your total monthly income at the top of a piece of paper.
List all your essential outgoings
We write ‘essential’ in italics, because this part’s important. Under your total income number, write down the outgoings that you can’t avoid. We’re talking about rent, mortgage payments, debt repayments and utilities bills. This is not clothes, food, restaurant bills etc. Let’s just start with the things you have to pay. Now, subtract it from your total monthly earnings. The figure you’re left with is how much you have left to play with.
Organise and prioritise your debts
Often, one of the biggest essential outgoings are debt payments. This could be anything from credit card payments, car loans, overdraft fees or a personal loan. It’s usually these payments that weigh you down. They often feel like a black cloud hanging over your head, causing pressure and uncertainty on your finances. Your first step is biting big chunks out of these debts. Start by prioritising the payments. Which debts are incurring the biggest interest rates? (It’s usually the credit cards). Make a plan to pay them off first. You can always consolidate the payments or contact the lenders to negotiate a manageable schedule.
Reassess your bills
After debts, the next big expense is usually your utilities bills. We’re talking about gas, electricity, internet and phone lines etc. They all add up over time, until they’re making a big dent in your bank account. You don’t have to settle for these large amounts. In fact, it no longer pays to stay loyal to a particular supplier. Instead, start looking for new introductory offers on utilities. You can also take advantage of cashback offers on certain utilities companies. Start cutting back on the bills, and you’ll free up some essential breathing room.
We’ve listed insurance as a separate point, because it’s an area where you can make some real savings. In fact, the experts at Australia Post tell us that home and contents insurance rates vary significantly. You may already be paying far more than you should. The same goes for car insurance, life insurance, and even medical.
Set a savings goal
So far, we’ve covered all the essential payments. Hopefully, we’ve helped you reduce these outgoings to the lowest possible amount, which will ease some of the pressure. The figure you’re left with is your disposable income. Now, in order to maximise your financial future, it’s time to start saving. The trick is to set a savings goal before you start spending on food, nights out, clothes etc. Spend what money you have after saving. Not the other way round. If it helps, try to imagine you earn less than you really do. Then, set up a direct transfer from your current account to your savings account every month.
Analyse your current lifestyle
If you feel paralysed by lack of money, it could be down to your current lifestyle. One of the most common problems we see is people living beyond their means. Remember, you’ve only got a certain amount of money left after paying the essentials and saving. The money left over is your spending money. It might mean cutting back on certain unnecessary expenses. For example, how often do you buy lunch out while at work? Do you buy a coffee every morning? These simple things could save you a fortune, if you cut them from your budget.
If you’ve managed to free up some extra money by following this advice, you might be wondering what to do with it. Our advice is to think about investment. Saving is one option, but your money will work much harder through savvy investment. Some may be scared by the perceived risk of stocks and shares. But, if you employ a sensible investment strategy and spread your risk, it’s a highly profitable route.
Think to the future
In general, it pays to think to the future. If you have certain goals and ideas, it’s easier to save. It gives you an incentive. Put money away for a deposit on a house. Start investing to build a pension pot, or create a college fund for the kids. Thinking about the future helps you avoid the frivolous expenses. It gives you focus.
Take just ten minutes every week to look at your finances
If there’s one thing we’d like you to take away from this post, it’s this. Just spend ten minutes every week to assess your accounts. Look at your biggest outgoings, and see what you could change. Check your current balances, and move money around to make the most of it. It’s a good habit to get into, and it makes a big difference.
Taking control of your finances is all about taking small steps to a better future. Look after the pennies, and the pounds look after themselves!