How are your finances looking? Many people are under the illusion that you cannot change your finances quickly and that once you are stuck in the circle of low-income and high outgoings compounded by poor financial decisions, it simply is what it is.
But there are many reasons why people feel the need to sit up and address their finances. It could be that they are looking to make a substantial purchase, such as buying a house and need to get their finances in order before they look at their mortgage application.
Using mortgagecalculator.uk can give you some helpful ideas of repayments for different mortgage amounts and payment periods. Or maybe they are waiting to get their finances to start a family or prepare for early retirement. Whatever the reason, you can implement some changes effectively to get things in order quickly.
Use the first 5 days of a month to plan your budget and assess your current financial health. List all of your income for every calendar month and your outgoings, along with the dates you need to pay your bills.
Start with your essential bills such as a mortgage, utilities, council tax etc., before addressing your other commitments such as subscriptions and then your spending.
Use days 6-10 to assess your savings or where you can make savings. Look at how you spend your money once all your bills are paid and see what you can reduce or cut out of your expenditure to save some money.
Then set up a savings account and aim to put at least 10% of your income into this each month. There is a saying that says 10% of everything you earn is yours, so putting that 10% away before you do anything else can help you adjust your budget to accommodate spending habits.
Use this time to find better deals or cancel things that you no longer want or need.
From day 11 to 14, look at what you need as a minimum to live your life. These are things such as gas, electric food, commuting costs etc.
Once you have a clear picture of what you cannot live without, see how you can further cut costs to save money in these areas. Such things like changing over to energy-saving light bulbs, changing the temperature on your thermostat, switching from baths to showers and walking short distances instead of driving to reduce fuel costs.
Next, use days 15, 16 and 17 to address your banking. Look at the fees you are paying for your account and see what you are paying for each month and if you are using all of the benefits to account for this fee. See if you can set up a way to divide your income the day it hits your bank account to split it up for bills, spending savings etc.
Look at your credit cards or bank account transfers to see if you can switch up how you pay and how much interest you are paying or accumulating and move your funds if applicable. It may be that you can switch to a 0% interest balance transfer, meaning you can pay off your credit card quicker and avoid paying interest. Or you can get a cash deposit by changing banks and different perks that meet your needs in packaged bank accounts.
In the next three days, 18 to 20, you can address any insurance premiums you pay and see if they are all working for you or if you can save money by switching on your renewal. This mightn’t be possible this week but putting a reminder in your diary to switch when the time can help you save money in the future.
Include any prescription costs you pay for, too, and see if you can purchase a payment plan to absorb some of the prescription or dental treatment cost.
Use days 21 to 23 to assess your credit score. Look at all the information each credit reference agency holds on you and see if it is accurate. Address anything incorrect immediately and look at how your actions can be altered to help boost your credit score if applicable.
Take days 24 to 28 to look at your debts and assess what debt management actions you can put into place. Look at your credit utilisation and how you can reduce this or clear off cards using your cash flow. Maintain minimum payments on all accounts but use excess cash flow to pay off higher interest accounts or ask your lender for lower rates if your account is in good standing.