Are your personal finances making you feel stressed?! Get them sorted and de-stress your finances!
Hi, I’m Nuala, Arc’s Finance Officer – a new year can cause you to hold a mirror to yourself and your life, so I want to help anyone who’s been feeling stressed about their finances with a bit of an overview of the main areas to look at and a few simple hints and tips! It looks like a long list, but remember it doesn’t have to be done all at once. Bookmasrk this page and aim to work through it in your own time – each step ticked off will help you get one step closer to feeling financially more confident. I hope you find these tips helpful, sadly they can’t be classed as legal financial advice! They are mostly focussed on personal finances, but many can apply to self employed finances and getting organised too. What better way to spend a lockdown? De-stress your finances!
- Make a decision to actively manage your finances. This is probably the most important step, you need to adjust your mindset and make personal financial management a priority.
- Open all letters and emails and deal with them. It is very easy to put off or ignore stuff you don’t want to deal with. DON’T! It won’t help in the long run…
- Gather all your finance information together – online and paper. This will help you get the information you need to manage your finances.
- Sort and file all bills, contracts, important information, HMRC letters, benefit information, tax codes, mortgage account information, rental agreement, HP and loan agreements etc.
- Make a note of payment dates and do not file paperwork until all dealt with.
- Keep a note of all bank accounts, perhaps in a spreadsheet. You can check online if you think you may have old dormant accounts here. Bonus…
- As more and more financial information is kept online, make sure you store all of your passwords securely. Risk assess certain scenarios, for example being locked out of something, Use different passwords for each account and keep any bank information secure too. Always stop and think before passing on your bank details/card details/authorisation codes. Banks, the police and other organisations such as HMRC, TV licensing will not contact you to request you transfer funds. Subscribe to Witch’s scam awareness service – they send details of online scams so you are aware of what scams are circulating and how to check if an email/letter is genuine.
- Be wary of unusual requests for payments. Always verify requests for payments independently, do a bit of research and only pay someone online if you are certain they are genuine and offering a legitimate service/product. If unsure, confirm the legitimacy with someone you trust.
- Once all your finance information is filed – give yourself a big pat on the back!
- Note all your income and outgoings in a spreadsheet. You can do this weekly, monthly or yearly, whatever you find easiest. I find monthly easiest as it coincides with my pay cycle.
- Declutter your bank account by checking your direct debits, standing orders or if there are any overpaid utilities, services not used like gym memberships etc. If you see an unusual payment contact the bank straight away. Always check your statement, this is a full record of your key financial information and shouldn’t be ignored.
- Note all important dates – car tax, MOT, car insurance, home insurance, utility renewal dates, HMRC filing dates, make sure these payments can be covered when due, even if it means setting aside a monthly amount to cover the payment. You could set reminders for them in Google Calendar or other app.
- Formulate a budget – bottom line is you need to spend less than your income! Think of how to adjust your budget so it balances or even better, spend less than you earn.
- Review where you have under/overspend or if you have repeat spend that could be scheduled or the cost reduced by switching. A monthly payment for boiler servicing contract might be worth paying especially if for example the boiler is prone to breaking down. Also consider things like monthly pet insurance to avoid large unexpected bills. Another option is to pay as many bills as possible in monthly instalments especially if there is no penalty for splitting payment.
- Try to save – even if just £5 a month. Over time it will make a big difference.
- Ask for help if you need it. There are lots of free online budget calculators and planning apps. Seek help from Citizens Advice, they offer both online and in-person support in Manchester. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
- There are lots of options available if you encounter difficulties such as mortgage holidays, Covid impact, benefits – check to ensure you are claiming everything you are entitled to and get any assistance with claims. Use the Citizens Advice as a first port of call, they are there to help you!
- Keep an eye on the media for tips – Martin Lewis is fantastic at clearly presenting ways of saving and reclaiming money. Did you know that since the beginning of the pandemic if you are employed and having to work from home you can claim £6 per week to cover extra home costs? That’s £312 for the current tax year!
- Money Advice Service is a government service that offers free and impartial advice and has lots of online tools including a budget planner and mortgage calculator. It gives lots of straight talking advice about money issues and focuses on dealing with debt in a positive way. Very useful if you’re not sure about products such as payday loans!
- Have an emergency fund – once you have control of your money an emergency fund can be a useful buffer. Often set at 2/3 months spend so that whatever happens you can keep things ticking over giving yourself the opportunity to get back on track. This is especially useful in very uncertain times.
- Look at using your hobbies / skills to earn extra income. Doing something you enjoy and get extra cash – win, win!
- Think about giving up a habit – 1 daily coffee, buying lunch at work, smoking etc. You will be surprised at how much you can save. Not buying a coffee every morning could save you £65 a month which you could put into a savings account!
- Teach your children about the value of money as early as possible. A child can have a debit card bank account from 11 years old. It’s also useful to set up a savings account from birth, even if not contributing monthly it can be used for birthday or Christmas money.
- Do not ignore financial worries. There are lots of organisations and help out there! Often talking to someone can help solve the problem. Another pair of eyes looking at your finances can help you see clearly what you need to do. Also they can direct you to further help, services to consolidate debt, speak to credit card companies on your behalf or help to reclaim overpayments. Use organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Money Advice Service – they are there to help.