You can probably imagine just how much it makes me despair when I hear of people’s money struggles. That’s not because I think “it’s all their own fault” or I don’t understand the very real difficulties that people have on a day-to-day basis to make ends meet, but because effective financial management really comes down to some very simple rules that everyone should know.
Here are just some of those basic rules to help ensure that you stay firmly in the black.
Plan a budget
It’s the most obvious advice, but also advice that so many people fail to heed – by planning a budget, it’ll be much easier for you to work out exactly what money is going out, and what money you have coming in.
There are many great online budget planners, like the one on the Money Advice Service site, that will make it straightforward for you to account for such expenses as rent or mortgage payments, council tax, insurance, travel, leisure and more.
Run the rule over your bank account statements
Some of us are used to leaving our bank statements unopened, but my advice to you is: don’t. To stay financially disciplined, you need to keep a close eye on your bank statements and bills, not least so that you can determine where you are currently overdoing it and may need to cut costs.
This sort of scrutiny is also crucial for ensuring that there is no money being fraudulently taken out of your account, as if this is the case, you’ll need to act on it immediately.
Have an extra income
Keeping your bank balance healthy isn’t just about reducing costs where you can – it’s also about finding every opportunity that you can to make money. With so many opportunities out there to top up your income, there’s little reason to stick exclusively to that 9-5 desk job.
Consider offering your skills on a freelance basis through a site like Freelancer.com, working in a bar or even getting involved in matched betting with Profit Accumulator or a similar specialist site, and you might be surprised by just how much additional money you can make.
The aforementioned matched betting, for example, could give you hundreds or even in excess of a thousand pounds extra a month.
Set a savings target
Nor should keeping your finances in check simply involve ‘getting by’ – after all, we all have those unexpected costs from time to time, resulting from things like an injury or illness that may prevent us from working for a while, or the boiler breaking down.
It’s therefore a great idea to aspire to save money every month towards a certain goal – for example, three months’ worth of expenses. Keep it all in a separate instant access account, and if you’re an especially successful saver, you may even decide to take that holiday or buy that car that you’ve always wanted, but never expected to be able to afford.
As you can see, these are basic rules, but also the most vital ones! Furthermore, with Christmas on the way, there really is no better time to start embedding those good financial management habits into your monthly routine.