Getting a handle on money, and knowing how to use it wisely is one of the best skills you can gain in your adult life. It doesn’t matter whether you earn a little or a lot, being able to effectively manage what you have keeps you in control and stops you getting into financial trouble. Even if you’ve not made the best choices with your money in the past, it’s never too late to pick yourself up and learn how to do things right. Here are some of the ways you can get a grip on your finances.
Draw Up a Budget
Knowing exactly what money you have coming in each month and what’s going out is absolutely key to getting in control of your money. It means you’re not missing bill payment dates and racking up charges. You’re not overspending and running out of money before the end of the month. You can also see exactly what you’re spending on. Those takeaway meals here and Starbucks coffees there might not seem like much, but when you add them up, you’ll realize exactly where you’re going wrong.
Reduce Your Outgoings
Do you really need such an expensive mobile phone contract, tv, and internet package or such a large grocery budget? For your bills, run some numbers through a price comparison site to make sure you’re getting the best deals. You could also call up the companies and see if there are any deals and discounts you’re not taking advantage of, or to check you’re on a tariff which suits you best. With your electricity bill, you could bring this down by switching to LED lightbulbs and stopping leaving appliances on standby. Be aware of wasting power leaving televisions or lights and things on when they’re not being used. For your grocery bill, consider switching out some of your branded products with less expensive alternatives. Writing a meal plan and shopping list before heading to the store means you’re less likely to overspend or go off track with unnecessary extras, so something to bear in mind when you’re hoping to cut costs. Do you spend on expensive evenings out, haircuts, subscription services or anything else that’s considered as a luxury purchase? It’s not about getting rid of everything you like, but knowing exactly how much these things amount to and whether it’s worth it is something for you to decide. Don’t let these sort of purchases fall through the net when you’re looking at your spending since they do add up!
Save For Unexpected Bills
Just when things seem to be going well, life throws a curveball. In many cases, this can be in the form of an unexpected bill. Maybe your car develops a fault, or your washing machine breaks down. Perhaps your winter gas bill catches you off guard. Either way, an unplanned expense can really knock you for six. Having some savings to act as a buffer can make these occasions far less stressful. Instead of panicking and getting further behind with your other bills due to the expense you can cover the cost outright. Having between one and three months worth of rent or mortgage payment saved in a separate account is also something that’s well worth aiming for if you can. The roof over your head is arguably the most important thing, if you start falling behind and ending up losing this it will cause no end of further problems.
One way to avoid some of the unexpected bills mentioned above is to get insured. If your pet becomes ill or injured, having insurance stops you from ending up out of pocket with a large bill. If you end up needing dental work, or your house floods or catches fire- again insurance will protect you. It’s an added expense to work into your monthly budget, but it can save you thousands if you end up in a position where you need to claim.
Get a Handle on Debt
Most of us have to borrow money at one point or another in our lives. It could be to buy a house, a car or to study. In these cases, borrowing money is very useful and benefits our lives. However, when it comes to other forms of debt it can be a slippery slope. Many people can find themselves in a position of becoming over committed with money, spend money they don’t really have and get in a real pickle. If this is you, don’t be ashamed. No-one is perfect, there are plenty of circumstances where this is easily done, and the good thing is it is very possible to get yourself back on track. You could check out a site like moneyexpert.com for some advice, or call a debt management agency up to see if they can assist you. The important thing is to take charge, don’t bury your head in the sand. Your creditors can’t get blood out of a stone so setting up a payment plan that suits everyone is key.
Save Money When Shopping Online
Whether it’s because you are working to a budget or just want to make your money stretch further, there are plenty of tips and tricks you can put to use when shopping online. You could look for discount codes and coupons on voucher websites. You could sign up to a cashback website and get a little bit back every time you spend. You could also compare prices before purchasing anything. It’s far easier to do this online than traipsing to physical stores for the best deals. Unless there is a promotion that you can only get in store, generally buying online.
Being mindful of where you’re spending your money, planning and preparing for the worst are all important when it comes to your finances. This allows you to maintain control no matter what life throws at you, and prevents you from dealing with the stress and hassle of debt.