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Top 10 Tips for Managing Your Finances

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We all wish we could make the money in our bank account stretch that little bit further. But we also don’t want to spend our lives penny pinching, being stingy and not wanting to live our lives to the fullest.  Is there a way to have fun and save money at the same time?

The answer is by taking some steps to better manage your finances. With a bit of planning, some goal setting, and just by being more conscious of your bank balance, you can get in control of your money and start on the goal towards something you really want – that dream holiday, ideal home or fantastic new car. We have provided 10 top tips to help you manage your finances.

1. Break down all your monthly costs

When it comes to your monthly expenditure, there are so many different costs and expenses you have to consider, that they can overwhelm you on a day to day basis. You can be checking your bank balance and find it a lot smaller than you might have expected, having forgotten about that direct debit that was due to leave.

Take an hour to sit down, either by yourself or with your partner, and write down every single expense you have each month. From rent and utility bills, to petrol costs and subscription services, write down every single payment that you know will come out each month. You should also try and work out how much you spend on going out, shopping, entertaining yourself – anything that will cost more than a few pounds.

2. Give yourself a monthly budget

Once you have all the monthly costs in front of you, you can see what’s costing you more than you think it should be. Give yourself a budget based on the costs and see what areas you want to target at reducing. Whether it’s using the car less to reduce the amount spent on petrol, to changing to a budget supermarket instead.

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3. Set a budget for your unbudgeted expenses

Apart from bills, there will be expenses that come out each month that aren’t so regular. This is where you need some discipline. Going out for drinks or eating out is important to keep yourself sane. But you might want to decide against the lobster and champagne.

Set yourself a budget and stick to it. This might mean saying no to a few social occasions or turning down that extra pint, but if you want to get on top of your finances, it will take some sacrifice.

4. Shop around for utilities

Humans love things to be easy. So when we come to the end of the contract on something like our broadband package or energy supplier, we will often just let it renew automatically. But by doing this, we often miss out on great deals.

Companies are desperate to attract more customers, so will often save the best prices or packages with most value for money and give them to those joining their service for the first time. But once you are settled in, normally after a 6 or 12 month period, then the prices will rise and you will lose some of the benefits that being a new customer can bring you.

Keep an eye out for promotions and offers from utility companies. And when you do find one that catches your eye, you should call your current supplier and let them know exactly who you are leaving them for. They will often make you a counter offer to try and keep you as a customer. The decision then is to go with something new, or stick to the old that you are comfortable with.

5. In fact, shop around for everything

The world wide web has revolutionised the shopping industry. We no longer have to order from a catalogue or have to find a local shop that sells what we need. Instead, we can just log on to the internet and search from thousands of retailers who have exactly what we want, and are just a click away.

And shopping around doesn’t just apply to the high street. Don’t be tempted to go for the company that appears top in your internet search. Look through a few different sites to see what the prices are and see if you can find a lower price. But remember, the internet can be a bit of a wild west, so make sure you choose a reputable company. Always check the customer reviews before you make any purchase online.

6. Settle any debts

One sign of poor financial management is having one or two credit cards that have been used to much and need to be paid off. Many credit card deals work by having a 12 or 18 month period with a low interest rate, only to go up at the end of the period. But even if they don’t, you might start paying interest on those purchases sooner than you think.

You should budget in some extra money to help clear this debt. While it may mean your savings don’t grow as fast as you would like, clearing this debt will be beneficial to you in the long run.

7. Add any leftover money to your savings account

When it comes to the end of the month, some careful financial management may mean you end up with some money left over. Don’t go on a wild shopping spree! All the hard work has paid off, and so you should treat yourself to…a healthy deposit into your savings account. While it may feel a bit mean at the time, you will feel better in the long term as your savings grow and your dreams become a little closer to reality.

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8. Look for ways to cut costs

There are many expenses that don’t need to be expensive with a little though and consideration. Going out for dinner with friends? Why not invite them round to yours and cook. It will be cheaper for everyone involved, and give you a chance to flex your culinary skills.

Hiring a babysitter before you head out? Why not ask a friend or family member to take care of your little one. If you have friends with children of their own, why not suggest a babysitting swap and look after their kids one night in return.

Split the petrol and parking costs for work by arranging a car share. There are so many different ways to save money. It just takes a bit of thought.

9. Sell what you don’t need

Having a big clear out can create some much-needed space and make you some money. Take to one of the free classified ads websites to get rid of bigger items, or head to your local car boot sale and see how much you can earn from those unwanted items. Just be prepared to haggle with strangers over the price of your goods.

10. Spread the cost of a big purchase

If there’s a big purchase on the horizon, why not look at spreading the cost? Find yourself a decent finance package and you can break down that big expense into manageable monthly payments. Make sure to shop around and find an ethical lender who will treat you right.

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