Getting Financially Savvy In Time For 2020

With Brexit edging ever closer, the credit crunch still in full flow, and money becoming increasingly tight, 2020 may well be the year when many people have to, once again, tighten their belts when it comes to family finance. But, if we are being truthful, are we as canny with our budgets as we could be. I know my answer to this question is no, but 2020 could be the year when you change all this.

Woman with coins in jar

Woman with coins in jar

Here are some of the things you could be looking at.

Bank Accounts 

Look carefully at your bank accounts. I have had the same bank account with the same bank for many years, but I’m not sure it is the right one for me now. Shopping around for a new account with better interest rates on savings could help to increase savings, and if they also offer things like travel insurance and other incentives, this may also save the pennies. In addition, my son Joe is now almost 11 and I think it is time he had a bank account of his own to teach him all about the reasons for saving. Many banks offer specific savings accounts for families and these are well worth a look.

Borrowing

Look carefully when you need to borrow. Bank loans and borrowing can leave you in a position where you can only borrow a large amount, which you then end up paying interest on. Borrowing in general can also be difficult if you have a low credit score. Polar Credit could well be worth a look if either of the previous statements apply to you. They offer a credit line which allows applicants to borrow money as and when they need it. Customers apply for a credit limit through an online application and if the application is approved, sums of money can be transferred to your bank account. Interest is paid only on the amount of money drawn out of the credit line, not on the total credit limit agreed, and repayments can be tailored based on an individual’s current financial circumstances with only a minimum repayment being a required each month. This means you can borrow small amounts (from £25), get the money quicker than you would from your bank, and with far lower interest rates than you would find from payday loan lenders.

Household Bills

Look at the household bills to see where savings can be made. Utility bills need to be looked at carefully, swapping your provider can lead to quite decent savings, and you can also lock yourself into deals which fix your rates for up to 12 months. In addition, if you use Quidco, you can gain cashback when you swap.

Your Shopping

Write a shopping list. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I never do this – ever. I walk around the supermarket and throw anything (and everything) in. Planning meals properly, checking what you actually need and writing it all down in a list should avoid waste and impulse buys.

Your Home Insurance

Keep up to date with when insurances need renewing and then shop around. I kept the same home contents insurance for years, I just kept renewing at a rate of £33 per month. I then had a random letter from ‘More than’ and saw they did home contents insurance. A quick phone call led to a new policy saving more than £250. When it comes to renewing, barter, and if that fails, get more quotes.

Shopping Online

When you shop online, shop savvy. Look for voucher codes, free delivery offers, companies that offer free returns. Sign up to email alerts that will tell you when the sales are on, or if there is a flash sale coming up. Nobody says you should never shop or treat yourself, but there are definitely more savvy ways to do it.

 

Organising Your Finances This Spring

Spring is the perfect time of the year to get organised in all areas of your life. I have already discussed organising your home and work life in recent posts, and today I am turning my attention to your finances.

Money, and money worries is one of the worst causes of stress and pressure in family life. The standard of living is on the rise all the time, but wages do not seem to be rising at the same rate, and this is leading to more and more issues of debt and increased amounts of borrowing, often from unscrupulous lenders. Most of us will accrue some debt at one time or another, but there are some things that we can do to help ourselves when it comes to our finances.

Budget

Actually writing down all our incomings and outgoings is a good way to start to deal with our finances. List everything, from the smallest bills like school dinners,  to the larges of outgoings – mortgage, car finance and loans. Look at the date that each bill comes out , and whether this works for you. If it doesn’t, change it to a date that does. I find that everything coming out at the beginning of the month works well if you are paid at the end of the previous month. Work out what is left after the bills have been paid, and then use this to budget for other expenses.

Look at your debt

If you are also trying to pay off a large amount of debt, you may find that it is difficult to keep your head above water. You may need to get some of the debt written off by something like a Creditfix IVA in order to make your bills manageable and affordable. You will still need to keep up your monthly payments but may be able to write off a substantial part of your debt, something that can be the difference between staying afloat and going under.

Shop Around

One of the best things about the internet is that it gives you the opportunity to shop around for anything you buy. You no longer have to accept the first price you find for anything, just a simple Google search will show you a range of options and the most competitive price.  In addition to shopping around, Quidco gives you the opportunity to claim money back on all your purchases, effectively offering you money for nothing.

When you do shop online, look for voucher codes for free delivery or money off – this can help you make good savings, adhering to the old saying ‘if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves.’

Budget Supermarkets

Fill your trolley at one of the big four supermarkets and check the cost. I’m not a betting women, but I would put my house on the fact it would be cheaper at Aldi or Lidl. The budget supermarkets sell a great range of products, but at a much cheaper price point, thus helping you to make further savings if your budget is tight.

Other avenues to look at include Home and BM bargains, Pep and Co, which is a great place to pick up children’s clothes cheaply, and, of course Primark.

How do you help your household budget?

Avoiding Christmas Debt

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it is also the most expensive. Christmas presents, Christmas food and Christmas experiences are all lovely, but they cost money, money we often don’t have. Christmas is the time of year when credit cards are maxed, store cards are opened and debts are accumulated, debts that we will then be paying off right into the New Year and beyond. There are things you can do though, to keep the spending, and therefore the debt, at a more manageable level.

Sort out the debt you already have

If you already have loans, credit and store cards that you are finding hard to manage payments for, it may be worth sorting out these debts before you increase them and take on others. An IVA ( Individual Voluntary Arrangement) could be an answer, allowing you to only pay what you can afford. To find out more information about IVAs click here.

Set Your Budget

For all the important things in life, whether it be getting married, moving house, booking a holiday, it is always sensible and practical to set a budget. Christmas is no exception. It is too easy to get carried away with the whole excitement of the festive period, buying heaps of presents that then sit under the bed for the next six months. Aim for quality over quantity and stick to that budget.

Shop Around

Whatever you are buying, you need to shop around rather than buying it at the first store you see it in, The Internet obviously has lots of bargains, but stores are now competing, with whole weekends dedicated to discounts that are often store wide. Also, look for things like the Boots Star Buy, a promotion that M&S has also started to embrace, 3 for 2 offers and buy one get one free or half price bargains.

Wait for Black Friday

If you are planning on buying anything electrical, or at the top end of your budget, then it could be worth waiting for Black Friday. Some stores are already offering early Black Friday deals, but it is worth signing up for email updates for key stores, and watching sites like Amazon who have some great Black Friday deals each year which can help you make huge savings.

Make sure you are savvy with the cash this Christmas.