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Managing Your Money – Small Beginnings, Big Changes

The concept is straightforward enough, you want to save a little each month and build up a fund that will be there for you to tap into in case of an emergency or that you can grow in order to get that house renovation done, a new car or the holiday of a lifetime.

But while, yes, it seems straightforward it appears that for some of us those good intentions of saving for the not-so-distant future are hard to turn into reality. But what is it that’s holding us back? What prevents us from saving for the things in life we really want? Perhaps it’s a lack of organisation, a problem that exists around our monthly budget or the fact that we always seem to find something better to spend our money on. 

If you’re looking to make some changes in the way you manage money then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re taking a look at how you can get yourself organised in your monthly outgoings and manage to start saving for those big things in life that seem so far out of your reach just now.

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Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

The Dreaded Spreadsheet

You knew it would come to this, but if the idea of inputting all your incomings and outgoings into a spreadsheet bores you to tears or fills you with dread, then there are some far more user-friendly options out there to help keep track of your money.

We’re talking, of course, about apps and one of the best out there at the moment is Mint. You’ll find it helps you to set a monthly budget, see exactly where your money’s being spent and with a free sign-up, it’s far more satisfying than pouring over that Excel spreadsheet each month.

But yes, despite the more modern approach you are still tracking your finances and this is exactly where you need to start. Give yourself a long-term goal and simply spend the first two or three months getting used to tracking your money so you can figure out some of your spending patterns. You don’t need to change anything at this stage, this is the data gathering part of the process.

Analysis

When you do go back and take a look at where your money goes, you’ll begin to see some patterns emerging. Perhaps you spend the majority of your money at the beginning of the month and, what with your bills leaving at the same time, you’re left with very little spare cash for the last two weeks before payday.

You’ll also see what you’re spending your money on. That latte bought on your way to work every morning has, over three months, mounted up to quite a cost. This kind of analysis is worth going through to help you make some judgements and changes over how you ration your budget.

Finally, you’ll also be able to see all the direct debits and standing orders that are attached to your account. That insurance for a long ago expired laptop that still goes out or the expensive gym membership that never gets used, it’s a good time to make some changes and to see if there are any cancellations that might help you out. It will also give you the opportunity to shift around the dates that direct debits leave your account if that’s going to help you plan a little better.

Prioritise

Once you’ve analysed your spending, it’s time for the action part of the plan to get started. You’ll need to get to the point where you start prioritising. This might mean that you ditch the latte habit completely or set aside a budget for it where that weekly purchase becomes a once or twice a week treat instead.

You might think about dividing your budget up into several pots, including bills, essentials such as food and entertainment, including socialising and of course luxuries such as that latte.

Once you’ve found a natural rhythm for your outgoings, you’ll be in a great position to then add savings to that list.

What to Spend Your Money On

Once your savings are on their way then you’ll be able to think about what you’re saving for. We can’t recommend enough clearing your debts as a first priority. Not only will it free up your money in the long term, it will also help to improve your credit score. If you’ve been asking yourself How can improve my credit score? Then this is the very best way to make those changes.

Get those debts paid down and enjoy greater financial freedom. What you’re saving for is, of course, entirely down to you, as is the amount you’re able to put aside each month. Some experts believe in following the 50/30/20 rule where 20% of your income will go into your savings pot, 50% on the necessities and 30% on discretionary items.

If this works for you and if you have a fixed monthly income, then this can be a great method. Another equally as valid, though slightly more flexible approach is to set up a sweeper account. In this version anything that’s left in your account the day before payday or at a date you specify is swept into your savings account. It allows for those unexpected expenses, like a broken boiler and recognises that some months the savings are going to be minimal while other months there might be a lot more.

However you save and whatever you’re saving for is your choice but your active decision to begin managing money should be applauded. The difference you’ll make to your account with regular saving will seem minimal at first but you’ll be surprised at how quickly that small pot can grow. The sense of satisfaction, not to mention security you’ll feel is worth the effort of getting your accounts in order. Download an app, go through the process and add an extra layer of security to your finances.

The Importance of a Rainy Day Fund

What would happen if you lost your job tomorrow? Would you have enough money to cover all of your expenses without running up extreme credit card debt? It is very important to have an emergency fund set aside for life’s unexpected events. There are many reasons why you should have a rainy day fund, and there are ways you can ensure you’re able to set one up that is sufficient for your specific needs. Let’s discuss some of the ways you can manage your money properly so you are able to allocate money to your rainy day fund!

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Losing your job is only one of the many reasons you need to have back up cash. You can also have expensive health or dental issues, or a major car repair. It’s essential that you have money set aside for these occasions. It is recommended that you have at least three to six months worth or income set aside in this fund. You can check out this handy calculator to get a more precise amount!

Once you have calculated your monthly expenses, then you need to figure out how will you will actually save up the money to put into your rainy day fund. Take a look at your current budget to see if there are areas where you are spending in excess. If you are able to cut out some excessive spending like dining out, or buying daily coffees, you might be well on your way to meeting your fund’s goal. There are also apps that offer automatic savings which make it very easy to ensure that you are setting aside a portion of each paycheck towards your emergency fund.

There are many other ways which can make your emergency fund goal a reality. You could sell items which you no longer need. The average garage sale could net you around 750 dollars! Getting a side hustle is another great way to bring in extra income. Some common side gigs include, freelance writing, graphic design, virtual assistant, bookkeeping, and accounting services. Check out this article for some more side hustle ideas!

Getting Financially Stable: Everything You Need to Know About Taking Out a Loan

Being optimistic about your finances is only natural. Most people have high hopes concerning their job prospects, lifelong earning capacity and financial management skills. But, reality might have another plan.

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What Is Financial Stability?

 Financial stability is both an objective and subjective quality. The objective standard is having an income that is higher than your expenses. You must make more money than you spend.

But, the subjective character is based on your financial status. Most people will admit that rich people have a different life style than others. For many of them, they can coast for a while before the day of reckoning arrives.

But inevitably, it will arrive. Everyone pays the piper. So, even though the wealthy have a higher income, they also must develop wise management skills. We will discuss a few of these.

Make a Budget

 Musicians practice, athletes practice … pretty much anyone who wants to succeed practices and prepares a plan. How can you control your expenses, when you don’t even know what your credits and debits are? You need to start by making a budget.

Some people don’t want to face financial reality. They want to believe that they are wealthier than they are. We see this a lot with athletes and celebrities. When their salad days are over, they might file for bankruptcy.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. = Benjamin Franklin.

Create a budget. If you are continually dipping into your savings, then you know you are not making ends meet. And, something that cannot go on forever, will not go on forever.

Write down your expenses and income. Then, see what your surplus or deficit is. Decide how you are going to make up that deficit.

You might try to add more hours at work. Or, you might consider taking out a personal loan. Saving money requires having higher income than expenses.

Balance Your Cheque Book

 Once you have a planned budget, see how you are doing each month. Balance your cheque book. Many people assume that bankers are never wrong. But, they do make mistakes.

After balancing your cheque book, you can identify any errors made by your bank. This also gives you a better understanding of your spending habits. You need to know how you spend money before you can improve your money-spending habits.

Count Pennies

 Remember the parable of the grasshopper and the ant. The grasshopper liked to visit the grocery store in the middle of the week and throw large parties. He had a great bar-be-cue, but didn’t produce anything of note.

While, grasshopper partied, ant was working hard, storing up food for winter. Grasshopper wondered why ant worked so hard. Ant told him that when winter arrived, those who stored away wealth would survive. Eventually, winter arrived and ant had plenty of food stored up while grasshopper starved.

How will you reap, when you have not sown? 

Those who save money, count their pennies. If you need help calculating your pennies, then you can use the Acorns App. Financial management has never been easier.

This money management app helps you earn found money, grow your knowledge, invest for your future and spend smarter. It is like having a financial assistant with you all day long. Sometimes, people need a little nudge to improve their saving habits.

Cut Corners

Paying off debt requires both a physical and spiritual commitment. Physically, if you don’t have enough credit, then you need to reduce your debt. You need to cut corners.

Enjoy some home cooking and reduce your visits to five-star restaurants. You might want to watch an old movie on date night. Reduce your expenditures to create a better threshold for your budget.

Find New Income Sources

 Sometimes, debtors need a little financial boost to help them regain their composure. When you are priming a pump, you introduce a similar liquid to draw out the liquid. Find new income sources to increase your cash flow.

After you learn more about personal loans, you can find the best financing means. Use the new funds to pay off the bills with the highest interest rates. Compound interest can quickly drag you underwater, like a drowning swimmer.

Create Rainy Day Fund

 You wear a seat belt just in case you get in an accident. A rainy day fund can help you overcome little glitches in the budgeting process. For example, your rent is probably due the beginning of the month, while your pay cheque arrives every two weeks. Sometimes, these two periods of time don’t mesh perfectly.

Instead of incurring late fees, create an emergency spare cash fund. You might even include a full month’s rent. This ensures that you are always on time.

Landlords and bankers expect you to pay your bills on time. They have a very fine-tuned system that will deposit the funds into their bank accounts immediately. There is a “Domino Effect” when they’re not paid – managers ask where the money is.

A rainy day fund smooths over many rough edges. It can be used to keep everyone happy. Toss a $20 therein when you get paid.

Healthy Financial Management Skills

Changing bad financial management habits can take some time. Psychologists believe that the development of good skills might take at least two weeks of constant repetition. Send yourself an alert from your smart phone, urging you to save more every single day.

After two weeks, there is the hope that this new habit will be well-ingrained. Use a multi-dimensional strategy for regaining financial stability: make a budget, cut costs and find new income sources. Develop healthy financial management skills to pay off your debt. Then, you can sleep better at night.

Giving Yourself A Financial Overhaul For The New Year

The time has come to start thinking about the goals and new year resolutions that you want to put in place for next year. Many of which, can be financially related. So many people aim for things such as owning a home or moving from one house to another. Saving for certain holidays or rainy days or even just being debt free. Whatever your financial goal may be, you need to start thinking about it now and planning to make it a reality. But how can you do that? Try these steps to help give yourself a financial overhaul. It could help you get in the right frame of mind for the year ahead.

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What goals have you got in mind?

First of all, take some time to think about your financial goals that you have for the new year. Think about what it is you want to achieve. It doesn’t matter how big it may seem. Owning a house for example, or paying off your debts may seem impossible right now. But the whole point of making the financial goals is so that you can then take smaller steps with different targets to help you achieve it. It might be worth writing it down somewhere that might remind you often what it is you are wanting to do.

Know what position you are in financially

The next thing to think about would be to look at your current financial position. Look at what position you are in buy checking your last three months bank statesmen’s. This will highlight exactly what outgoings you have and their costs. It will also help you to understand what you are spending each week on things like food or other things like clothes or luxuries. Knowing what you spend and how much you have going in versus leaving your account will help you to try and make savings where possible.

Time to get serious about your credit history

If your goals next year involve any from of credit application, like consolidation loans for debt or mortgage applications for buying a house, then you need to understand your credit history and scoring. You also might want to monitor it moving forward so you know everything that is going on behind the scenes. This is when looking at the best credit monitoring services comparison article online can help you decide when he one is best for you. Knowing where you stand on your score and history will help you improve it or make changes such as correct details before making any applications in the future.

Is it possible to make savings now?

Finally, is it possible to make savings right now? I think that you could look at what your spend and make some changes to give you some instant savings. It could involve switching providers for things like energy or insurance products. Maybe it could be reducing your food shopping bill by meal planning, changing where you shop or switching from branded to shop own products.

If you are in need of a financial overhaul, these are ways you can start to actively make savings and doing things now, which will then help you start fresh in the new year to achieve your goals.

5 Ways to Making Saving Exciting for Kids

Saving money is a valuable life lesson that it is important to teach from a young age. The more good practices are instilled in childhood, the more likely it is that they will be continued throughout life.

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There are a wide variety of different techniques that we will talk a little bit about here, but teaching the relationship between family and money is something that should be ongoing. So, let’s get on and look closer at some money-saving teaching tips.

Make a Savings Chart

If your child wants to save for a particular toy, you can make a chart to figure out exactly how much money they will need to save. Your son or daughter can then place a sticker in the chart each week that they save money so they can actually see themselves getting closer and closer to their overall goal which certainly builds up excitement.

Offer Rewards

You will probably be all too aware how effective rewards can be when encouraging your kids to do something, so think about what motivates them – whether this is an extra half hour playing video games or a trip to the movies – and offer this as a prize if they hit a particular savings goal. This helps to reinforce the positive link between savings and rewards.

Teach Them About Shopping Around

The internet has opened up a whole world of financial opportunity, and one thing that is a good idea to teach your children is about shopping around for a deal. This helps to show them about getting the most for their money and the knowledge that their savings will go further if they always get the best price that they can.

Set a Good Example

Of course, kids learn by example, so if they see you regularly saving your money then they are much more likely to follow suit. If your kids are particularly young, you can show them about saving money by putting your money in a jar. You can then get your kids a jar of their own so they can start to copy you. If they are older, you can set a good example by helping them to open up a savings account at your bank.

Play Games

Board games such as Monopoly and The Game of Life are useful in promoting the value of saving. They also help to demonstrate the consequences of certain decisions and the fact that unexpected costs sometimes spring up in life. While you are playing the games, you can talk to your kids about the similarities and differences that they have with real life financial decisions.

These are just five basic techniques that you can use to help get your kids saving money. Ultimately, it is all about showing them the rewarding aspects of saving money by getting them excited about it. As well as this, you should always be looking to teach them small financial lessons whenever you can that they can apply to real life situations.