In these trying financial times you may need to keep a sharper eye on where your cash is going. Now might be the time to give your personal finances the once over, work out how you can start some savings and help your money grow. Keeping an accurate budget is a good way to start, as once everything’s down in black and white it’s easier to see where your money is going. See the steps and ideas below:
Sort out your money
A few small changes add up to a big difference. Get into the habit of reading your bank statements carefully each month. It will help you keep track of your money and highlight areas where you might not realize how much you’re spending.
Write it down
If you are having trouble budgeting get a notebook and write down everything you spend for a month or two. You’ll be amazed at how much you spend without realizing it. Besides writing it down or creating a spreadsheet, another great tool for budgeting is Quicken for personal or QuickBooks for businesses. If you track your income and expenses for two months you will have a clear view into your financial situation.
Try to keep your budgeting as accurate as possible. You must be honest when keeping track. Don’t forget to include evenings out, trips to the cinema and other expenses. A true budget is planning ahead. If you don’t know your past spending then your future budgeting is very difficult. Make a list of upcoming expenses such as holidays or birthdays, then you won’t be surprised by unexpected demands on your wallet.
Review your regular bill payments
During the budgeting process it will help to review your regular expenses. Use price comparison websites to see if you could pay less for your utilities, insurance, telephone, cellular or cable companies. Contact other providers and ask for a quote or estimate. Make sure you’re on the best phone, internet and mobile phone package for your needs. Also, consider your refinancing your mortgage or any insurance you’ve taken out.
Saving for a rainy day
Life can be unpredictable, so it’s vital to have money saved in case the unexpected happens. If you’re working, try to have three months’ salary in an easy-access savings account as a cushion. Or consider taking out income protection, which gives you a monthly income if you can’t work due to illness or injury. It’s also a good idea to consider the future. A chat with a trusted financial advisor could help you with your savings, investments or pension needs.
Prioritize your debts
Many of us experience financial difficulty at some point in our lives. It’s important to take early action to stop your debts from getting out of control. Speak to the companies you owe money as soon as possible and try to come up with a realistic repayment plan. The situation will only get worse if you ignore it. Your creditors may charge you additional interest or late-payment fees.
Pay off vital bills such as utility bills, mortgage/rent or taxes first, then tackle the ones with the highest interest rates. If you’re struggling with repayments there are organizations offering free, impartial and confidential advice.