Managing money stress: 8 top tips to help manage your finances
Almost half of people in the UK are said to be suffering from stress in some form and the most common cause of this stress is money. Yet, if you are feeling that money is an issue for you then you don’t need to suffer in silence. There are things you can do to wrest back control. Here are eight top tips for you to try…
Have a spending audit
Sit down, get out your last three or four bank statements and go through everything, line by line. Unless you know where your money goes you’ll never feel fully in control. This should flag up any expensive habits that you have and pinpoint which bills are higher than you thought. You can then use this information to help you cut out that costly daily visit to the coffee shop or as the prompt you need to switch suppliers and save on your bills.
Use a budget planning tool
What else can you do with all of that information? Well, inputting this into a budget planning tool online should give you an accurate look at your finances and provide you something to stick to as you go forward. Budget planning tools – such as this one – are free and very easy to use. Having a plan in your back pocket will give you peace of mind.
Track spending as you go
One of the best ways to stick to your plan when you have one is to track your spending as you go. Use a spending tracker app if that helps and note every penny you spend. That way you’ll avoid being caught out near the end of the month through forgetting to factor something in.
Short term borrowing
Speaking of getting caught out – this can happen to the best of us. A higher-than-expected bill or necessary repairs to your car can come out of nowhere and leave you short of money just at the worst moment. This is when it can be an idea to take a short term loan to get you out of a hole before payday. As long as you pay these back swiftly they can be the short term answer you need and, as 247Moneybox shows, won’t leave you with too much interest.
The ‘want/need/afford’ question is a really simple ‘test’ to set yourself before making a purchase. Do you really want it? Do you need it? Can you afford it? If the answer to all of those is yes, then you should proceed. Just simply stopping to ask these questions will help you to think twice and avoid unnecessary impulse purchases.
Rainy day fund
You should try to save at least some money every month. Any amount, no matter how small, can help in the long run. Make sure this money finds itself into a rainy day fund that you can tap into in case of emergencies. Again, this offers peace of mind should you be hit with a sudden expense.
Try to boost your pay packet
When thinking about managing your money it’s easy to just focus on making more of what you’ve got but there is something else to consider – making more money in the first place. It’s not always easy to get a pay rise – although there is no harm in asking – but you can top up your salary in other ways. Take up some freelance work on the side, for example, or maybe sell some of your unwanted items online. The added income will make your financial picture look much healthier.
You need to learn to ‘play the game’ when it comes to shopping. Voucher sites, comparison websites, coupons, loyalty cards, sales – they’re all out there and able to help in your quest to cut your spending. Learn how to use them to your advantage as it can be easy to get sucked in to spending more. However, if you can find a deal or an offer on something that you would have bought anyway then you’re in business.