With summer fast approaching, now’s the time when plenty of folks across the country start looking at their finances to see how they can enjoy the sunnier season to its fullest – from ice-creams on the sea-front to exotic ciders in a beer garden in a far-flung getaway. Of course, juggling tighter household budgets with getting the most out of summer requires a little effort, but there are a few quick and easy tips to save your money…
Set target and keep a budget
Losing track of our finances is so easy to do. A pint here, a takeaway there and before we know it, we’re back to worrying about what’s in the bank. The best thing to do, then, is to set a realistic financial target – say, to save £1,000 in three months – then create a budget that gives you oversight over your monthly earnings and out-goings. That way, you’ll be able to see where your money’s going, and where spending can be cut in order to reach your goal. It may take a little perseverance, but it’s worth it for taking control of your finances.
Reduce regular credit card spends
The problem, for many of us, is that buying things with credit cards is like spending invisible money. The actual finances don’t mean anything until we get that monthly bill through, and at that point it’s too late. Getting to grips with our finances means eliminating anything that obscures how much we’re really spending, and limiting unnecessary purchases, so reducing our reliance on credit cards (and even debit cards) by using tangible cash is a great start. After all, research has shown that we’re a lot more likely to spend more if we use cards, meaning it’s a bad habit that’s costing us more than it should.
Set up your automatic savings
It goes without saying that no matter what our budget is, we need to be saving – whether it’s for luxury items like a new car or preparing ourselves for our future retirement. But how we save is also important. Many of us just pop a few quid into an account here and there, or once we’ve been paid at the end of the month, but a far better way is to set-up a direct debit or automatic transfer that will instantly put your savings into your chosen bank account. That way, what you see in your primary account is the exact amount you have to play with, rather an artificially inflated figure that doesn’t take into account your savings, making it almost irresistible to dip into.
Use a bank account that’s right for you
There are tons of bank account types out there and, to quote Orwell, some are more equal than others. Depending on our finances, we must choose the account that’s best suited for us. So, a basic current account is great as a base for basic household budgets, they rarely offer attractive interest rates that get you more bang for your buck. If you’re looking to stash a fair amount of cash away – untouched – for several years, you’re going to be looking at higher yield accounts like an ISA. Make sure your account matches the goals your money is working for. And that leads to…
Research your options
Unfortunately, while it may be painless and quick, too few of us take advantage of account-switching – and the result is that it’s costing us money. Whether it’s energy bills or your ISA accounts, we need to get into the habit of researching all of our options and switching to providers with the best deals. Not all gas and electricity suppliers charge the same amount; not all bank accounts offer the same amount of interest. And that means we could save a lot more of our money simply by spending an hour or two Googling what’s out there, and which companies best meet our needs.