We can all become complacent with our finances, but as with any bad habits, the first step is admitting something needs to change – and spring is an ideal time to give your money habits a deep clean and refresh.
But, once you’ve decided to improve your money habits, where do you start?
Here are some ideas from TopCashback.co.uk UK director Adam Bullock, for spring cleaning your finances and taking some steps towards a brighter financial future…
1. First, have a ‘deep and meaningful’ with your finances
Get personal with everything you’ve got coming in as well as what’s going out. Look at all your essential versus non-essential outgoings and total up what you’re spending on each group. There are apps available which can do this for you for free, if it’s too tricky to do it yourself. It might be the rude awakening you need.
2. Go cold turkey on one bad spending habit
Now that you’ve scrutinised your bank account, you may have found one, if not more bad spending habits. For some, it’s impulse buying in supermarkets, for others it’s buying yet another dress in the sale. Whatever your bad spending habit is, recognise the weakest link in your bank account and stop doing it.
Once you know what you’re giving up, remove temptation – whether it’s staying off certain parts of social media for a while or resisting clicking on links to ‘special offers’ arriving in your inbox. If you tell yourself it’s only for a short time (to start with) rather than forever, it will be easier to handle.
3. Shop around to save yourself money
It’s great that you’ve made savings on your non-essential outgoings, but what about stuff you have to pay for each month? Shop around using comparison websites to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your insurance, for example. Can you negotiate with your broadband provider for a better rate? Loyalty doesn’t often pay sadly, so there’s bound to be somewhere you make some extra savings.
4. Subconsciously save
Get into the habit of making use of apps and companies that help you save money subconsciously. Certain banks can round up each time you spend. By putting away the odd pound here and there, you’ll be surprised by how quickly it piles up.
With any necessary spending, make sure you make purchase through cashback websites, which will reward you with money for nothing.
5. Plan for the future
With your financial present sorted, it makes sense to plan for the future. Maybe it means having a conversation with HR about pensions, checking your credit score, making a will, checking gov.uk for any tax benefits you’re entitled to.
For some, the thought of the future fills them with dread – this is a good way to start feeling comfortable having conversations you may have once avoided.
6. Embrace the new budget
So you’ve sorted your monthly outgoings and found new ways to save. What can you do with these new savings? Perhaps you can put away a small amount each month, maybe you can pay more off your credit card, or even donate some to charity.
7. Don’t fall off the wagon
It’s awfully tempting when you’ve been ‘good’ for a while to fall off the wagon. We’re only human after all. However, you’ve made some great new habits that will hopefully put you in good stead for the future – don’t put all that hard work to waste.
If you’ve managed to save up, visualise the long-term prize. Maybe you’re saving up for something specific, or just enjoy having something for a rainy day. Remember, sticking to a budget and good financial habits should help you to build up more money over the longer term.
Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto