It's no secret that I've been building towards a better life both inside and out and helping lots of lovely blog readers do the exact same thing, we've looked at how to get control of our lives, we've looked at how we can respect our bodies a little more and today with the help of our resident financial expert Stephanie Pickering of Verity Wealth Management we're going to look at ways you can give yourself a financial makeover.
Anyone who knows me will know that I'm a complete spendthrift and money management is not my strong point so I asked Stephanie for her top tips to put our finances in order right now, here's Stephanie's guide to better financial management which can save you money right now!
1) Draw up a household budget – many people have NEVER done this and have no idea of the actual amounts of income coming into a household, let alone the expenditure going out. If you have no idea of the Income/Expenditure of your household, you may never know where your money goes to!
2) Keep all shop/restaurant receipts and use these to review all Bank and Credit Card Statements, checking off every entry individually – should there be any amounts you fail to recognise or disagree with, ring your Bank or Credit Card Company to ensure you find out what it’s for in case it’s a fraudulent entry. Many fraudsters start with little amounts and when not spotted they then go for larger amounts in the hope they can achieve their fraudulent transaction before being stopped. This will also help with household budgeting (see point 1 above).
3) When food shopping try to draw up a list and stick to it – check what’s needed in your cupboards before going shopping – try planning the weekly menus before setting off. Make a pan of fridge soup at the end of the week – I do this by using all the vegetables wilting in the fridge and throwing them in a pan with some vegetable stock – red lentils, Garlic, Chilli, Onions and a bit tomato puree – its amazing how good it tastes for such ease in making! (I love this tip Steph, I did this with Christmas leftovers and the soup was amazing)
4) Pay off debts – always make the minimum payment on debts on time and wherever possible with any spare money overpay the debt with the largest interest rate – once this has been paid off, review debts again and pay all spare money off the debt with the current highest rate of interest. Keep repeating the task until all debts are repaid!
5) Even if you think you cannot afford to save any money, start small either by saving a favoured coin in a jar, such as the £2 coin – you generally don’t get many and their big and bulky, so put them in a jar….you’ll be amazed at how soon they add up. Do a separate one for copper if possible…again they are annoying in your purse or wallet. I wouldn’t suggest £1 coins here as we get too many of these and we need to keep something in our purses/wallets.
6) Set up a standing order to make a payment into a different bank account each time you are paid…you will miss it initially but within a few weeks/months you will not miss it! The amount you save no matter how small soon adds up.
7) Review the cost of your utility bills– if you have never switched providers or have not switched in a long time, you could save quite a bit by moving to an alternative provider. Switching to paying bills by direct debit rather than quarterly cheque payments also helps as many providers offer discounts for paying by direct debit and often charge a lower tariff for the service provided. There are many online websites to help carry out switching such as Uswitch.com and others.
8) If you need to get Cash back on an in store purchase ALWAYS use your Debit Card NOT your Credit Card. Your Debit Card takes the money straight from your own bank account and generally costs nothing – by using a Credit Card you will be charged both for the transaction and also interest will apply from the day you receive the money.
9) If you or your child are a student or in 6th Form college – you can purchase a NUS Student Union/ NUS Extra Card. This does cost £15 per annum however it provides money off many good and services such as Cinema entries, some restaurants, Clothes Stores, Amazon purchases plus many more. The £15 although an expense initially not a saving, should soon recoup its cost many times over!
10) Sign up to Cash Back Websites, such as Quidco and TopCashBack.co.uk and get money back on your purchases or Voucher savings sites such as My Voucher Codes to get money off vouchers to use on purchases – it may not be huge amounts, but it does add up over the year and you would have been spending the money on items even without using these sites.
11) When buying something – ask yourself - Do I need it?, will I use it, have I already got something similar…….if in doubt – do not buy go away and think about it first!
12) Get a professional to carry out a Financial Review – it may cost you money to have one carried out but they can potentially save you money sometimes substantial amounts!
13) Ensure you have a Will – many people plan all their lives only to be undone on death by not having a valid Will.
14) Check your Tax Code – are you paying too much Income Tax? If you are a non-Tax Payer are you paying Tax on your Bank/BS Savings – if so speak to the Bank and they will be able to provide you with a form to have interest payments on your accounts paid Gross. Also if your partner is a higher rate Tax Payer than you – look to switch savings to the partner who pays lower rates of Income Tax to save tax that way.
I want to thank Stephanie for taking the time to compile that list for us, I shall be getting an NUS card for Iain post haste!
If you would like to speak to someone who really knows their stuff and can carry out that all important financial review why not speak to Stephanie at Verity Wealth Management, if she can write this list just off the top of her head can you imagine how much money she could actually save you with a proper financial review?