Perhaps you’re feeling a little like all those financial New Year’s resolutions you made have gone out of the window, but don’t stress. Saving money is easier said than done, and once you get yourself into sticky situations or bad habits, it can sometimes feel like you won’t manage to turn it around anytime soon.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be like this. There are things you can do that can make a world of difference to your financial situation and get you back on track.
You will do yourself a huge favour if you take the first step and record exactly how much you spend,(that’s down to every penny). Make sure you don’t miss anything out, and once you have everything down for one month you can work out exactly how much you are spending per month on the mortgage, the bills, household expenses etc. It helps hugely if you have online banking, to easily access all of this information across your accounts.
Then you can turn it into a spreadsheet of your expenses all arranged neatly in subcategories to make it much easier to see what’s what. It might feel a bit strange at first, keeping a close watch on yourself with such scrutiny, but when your finances are in order and you’re feeling relaxed -you won’t regret it!
Once you know precisely what you are spending each month across the different areas, you can then make a budget that compares this against the total of your income. Then you can work out how much you can afford to save, in which areas you can afford to save and ensure that you do not go over your spending limit! While you are doing this, you should try not to forget about the expenses that occur less than monthly, and include them as appropriate.
It’s not always going to be easy to stick to budgets, so don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake or bump into an unexpected cost that throws you off. It’s all about trial and error and if you can, working at it as a family.
If you are already feeling like you might need a little bit of help and would like to take the pressure off, never fear, there are budgeting apps out there to lend a helping hand. Budgeting apps can do most of the work for you, as once you download and put in the info that they need, these apps can work to automatically categorize all of your different transactions across multiple credit and debit cards. They work to track all of these against a set budget and send you alerts when you go over!
Some budget apps can even help you to look at your different bills whether phone, gas, internet etc. and help you to see if you can find a better deal on your monthly service costs. Other budgeting apps, like Goodbudget, can also make it easier if you are trying to budget as a couple because this app allows you to sync and share your budgets with others across Android or iPhone. Other popular apps that are well worth a gander include Mint or Wally (which is also free)!
Consider Switching Bank Account
Taking a look around, to see if any banks offer more attractive interest rates than you are currently getting is worth considering too. If you are paying any monthly fees for a savings account or checking account, again- there might be a better option out there than the one you currently have. Some banks will even offer sign up bonuses when you switch so you could be helping yourself financially here too! If your not sure where to begin with this perhaps take a look at websites that compare bank accounts to see what you can find out.
People often end up sticking with one bank account without it even crossing their minds that this is an area whereby they could be missing out on a better deal. (Don’t be one of them, go-on and ditch your bank if it’s not serving you well!)
Good old fashioned shopping lists should not be underestimated in their budgeting powers! We’ve all been there when you go shopping for a few food items and come out with lots of things you don’t even need! Before you go food shopping if you write down exactly what you are going to buy and then make sure that you stick to it, then you can easily save yourself money and stop yourself from overspending.
It helps to plan which meals you are going to eat each day for the week before you go shopping and this way you can reduce any waste too. While you’re at it, if you are loyal to one particular supermarket, yet you know that there are budget supermarkets out there that you haven’t tried- give one a go. Budget supermarkets are far improved from what they once were, and you might find yourself pleasantly surprised at what savings you can make.
Switch Your Electricity
If you decide to opt for a greener energy solution, you could not only be helping to save the environment but helping to save yourself some money too. Solar panel systems can be installed on your roof or in the ground. They work via photovoltaic cells that capture the sun’s energy and generate electricity. Last time we checked the sun was free! So once you’ve got the installation costs budgeted and out of the way, you’ll be saving yourself money and reducing your carbon footprint at the same time! (Don’t forget to turn all the lights off when not in use too!)
When Budgeting Isn’t Enough
While there are ample ways to save money and work on your budgeting hacks perhaps you’re feeling like this just isn’t cutting it. Sometimes, we become quite simply so hard up that no amount of budgeting is going to stretch those pennies to pay for all of our expenses. We’ve all been there at some point, and often we just need a little helping hand to get back on our feet. Taking out a loan might be a viable option for you and your family at this time depending on your circumstances.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get loan approval at times if you’ve been in adverse financial circumstances before. However, all is not lost; looking into payday loans for bad credit options is worth a go if you feel that you need some assistance in keeping afloat.
When you are trying to save money, you’ll want to focus on buying things that you actually need as opposed to more luxury items that you could do without. When those items that you need are coming up- why not try buying second-hand? People make the mistake of thinking that they won’t find what they really want in this way. On the contrary, second-hand and vintage stores can be filled with beautiful one-off items that are full of character and less than half the price of brand new!
Look also into Facebook Marketplace whereby sometimes people will even give away items in excellent condition for free; simply because they are looking to declutter and want the space!
Sell Things You Don’t Use
In the same way, there are so many accessible websites and apps out there these days, whereby you can sell unwanted items that you don’t use and pocket the cash. Be brutal, go through all of your belongings and make a pile of anything that you do not use and are unlikely to start using. All the items that are in good enough condition you can sell-on and all of the items that are in a poorer condition you can recycle or throw away.
Clutter can demotivate us and make our homes feel claustrophobic so you’ll surely feel better for this too! Why not have a look into a few of the new apps that can help you do this and have some fun with it.
Running a car can be a big expense from month to month, so it’s worth assessing where you and your family are in this area too. If you own a car- could you benefit from switching to a cheaper model? Or could you try and shop around for a better deal on your car insurance? It’s even worth looking into whether you need a car altogether and could get a better deal by using public transport? Better still- get a bike, and you’ll be going greener too.
Leading a busy life which entails juggling your work, your family and leisure is a challenge in terms of finding any spare time. It’s no wonder that some find it hard to make the time to sit down and have a look at their finances. Once you have though, you’ll find that once your saving plans are in place all will become second nature and you’ll be budget savvy without barely thinking about it!