I’m in a position at the moment where I’m about to start looking for a house (as in, I saw the mortgage advisor on Thursday and she’s in the process of getting a mortgage promise for me-both exciting and scary times ahead!)
You won’t be surprised, I’m sure, to know that this has been a long time coming, and for a good few years of my life I’ve struggled financially, often turning to payday loans when I needed more petrol to get to work than I had money left in the bank. This isn’t ideal, but a responsible (emphasis on RESPONSIBLE there) payday loan lender is not the bad guy-as long as you use them carefully, in my opinion it’s not worth feeling guilty about.
When I was approached to work with Swiftmoney.com and give you my top tips for managing your finances, I couldn’t say no. I’ve definitely learnt a thing or two about this subject!
Know your budget
There is honestly no point in trying to manage your finances if you have no idea how much you can afford to spend. I sit down a week before my payday and write down all the outgoings I know I have that month: rent, bills, any debt repayment, mobile phone credit, petrol, parking, and food. I always plan for more money to be spent on food than usual, and I always plan for £50 to be put to one side as emergency money. Only then do I decide whether I can buy that dress I’ve seen.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s been months where I’ve struggled to budget for an unexpected cost, and have had to turn to a lender like SwiftMoney for a short term loan.
Buy essentials when you have money
The first week after I’ve been paid is, generally, when I spend the most on food and toiletries. I stock up on things like shampoo, tampons, makeup remover, and the more expensive, essential food items like teabags. Then I know I don’t need to buy these things for the rest of the month, when I have less money.
I actually did this on Boxing Day. The Bodyshop had a sale on their Christmas stuff and I ordered 10 bottles of the Spiced Apple Shower Gel, originally £4 a bottle, for something silly like £2 a bottle-and I then had a code for a further 40% off. It worked out that I’d spent about £1.25 a bottle and I now have enough in my drawer to last me until at least April.
Overpay your utility bills
This one is something my Mum has always told me to do, and I’ve always done it. I pay more each month for my gas and electric than the company think I need to. I also do my meter readings once a month without fail, so I can keep an eye on the figures. Overpaying means that I pay far more than needed in summer, when I barely have lights and heating on, which helps in the winter when it can be on all the time-last time I moved house I was OWED MONEY by the company because I’d overpaid sufficiently. Much better than a large bill I couldn’t afford.
I find it so much cheaper to not buy ready meals, but sometimes you don’t have time to cook, right? So every so often I have an evening where I cook a couple of meals-usually a curry and a pasta dish-and have one portion for tea, one for lunch the next day, and then freeze three portions of each meal for the future. This has saved me so many last minute ‘I have no food and it’s 9pm lets get a KFC’ moments-and £7 a time!
What are your top tips for managing your finances?
*This post was written in conjunction with Swiftmoney and I have been compensated for my time writing this. All tips in this post are my own, and I have written this post myself.
Please, please read the small print before signing up for any loan. There are responsible lenders out there and that’s great, just make sure you understand what you are paying back.