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New leaf, new financial habits
Do you feel in control of your financial situation, or do you muddle through and worry you’ll never be organised enough to meet your financial goals?
If you’re on top of it, well done you! It’s no mean feat.
If not, worry not. Help is at hand.
We know it can seem like an uphill struggle and bad habits are hard to shake, but even small changes and a few good habits, could free up the money you need to fuel your financial future and those all-important goals.
You work hard enough for your money, so we’ve shortlisted three top tips to help turn the tables, take back control and make your money work for you.
1. Follow the money
Start tracking exactly where your money goes every month and scrutinise your spending. That means looking at your mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, grocery bills, socialising, travel, debt, childcare and clothes shopping - everything right down to those pricey little indulgences.
You’ll be amazed just how much tracking what you’re spending will bring to light and it will make you a lot more mindful the next time you hit the ATM, supermarket or your favourite online store.
Allocating an allowance for the things you know you need to cover, like rent or travel to work and setting a budget for nice to haves like nights out or new clothes, will improve your money management immediately.
There’s lots of help available too. Start with your online banking services, as lots of banks now offer monthly income and expenditure breakdowns on accounts, or you could download a budgeting app that will do the math for you.
There are some great apps on the market that track spend, scan receipts and even take direct debits and bills into account, so you can get busy plugging any financial leaks.
2. Cut costs and splash out on savings
Smart changes mean more money to devote to your savings, kick-starting the pension you’ve been talking about or building up enough to invest for the longer-term.
The simple fix is often the most effective and one of the fastest ways to achieve a healthier bank balance is by prioritising your expenses.
Consider this scenario:
You spend around €5 Monday to Friday on a sandwich or something similar for lunch (and you’re no stranger to a chocolatey treat and coffee afterwards). That’s about €8 a day, five times a week. So, €40 a week on lunches you could easily make for about €10. Multiply that by four and you’ve just saved yourself €120 a month.
It’s not rocket science, but it works.
What about shopping around for the best energy, phone, internet, TV and insurance providers to shrink your bills so you can channel the difference into a saving or investment account?
It’s a good idea to question any memberships you pay on a regular basis too. Are you using your gym enough to justify the costs or could you get what you need somewhere less swanky (and expensive)?
If nights out are hammering your bank balance, maybe host friends at yours or use online deals to make socialising more affordable.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg and they all free up cash that can be put towards your financial goals.
3. Raise your financial IQ
Committing to increasing your knowledge on money management, saving and investing will allow you to think and act with much more savvy when it comes to your personal finances.
Following a finance blog that speaks your language, listening to podcasts on your commute or reading a chapter of a good book each day, is a great start.
The New York Times Bestsellers List is peppered with self-help and ‘How to’ titles that have helped people turn their finances around. Even scanning the business pages of the Sunday papers will keep you in the loop on money matters, without getting lost in technical commentary.
What’s the biggest lesson?
The biggest take away here is that your future belongs to you and as you grow older and take on more responsibilities, it becomes even more important to be aware of your financial situation and take control of it.
Remember, even the biggest journeys start with one step and the small changes mentioned in this blog can help you move in a much more positive direction.