I have never been great with money.
I’m an impulse buyer and that’s always been a trait that has always left me buying things I didn’t need and leaving me with no money. *Hello, Nintendo Switch.*
After losing my job last year and I suddenly found that I had a lot less money coming in and the fact that I had been living month to month and paycheck to paycheck left me in a pretty scary place.
Thankfully I had a great network of support around me that were able to help, but had I not been as fortunate, I would genuinely have been screwed.
This has given me a new interest in managing my money better not only for now but for the future too. It’s still early days for me, but I think I’m actually doing a lot better now and I’m becoming more interested in saving my money rather than buying something that I’ll probably wear a few times and then never wear again.
How I’m Getting Better with Finances
Now you may be wondering what the hell I’m on about here, but finding the UKpersonalfinance subreddit was one of the best resources I stumbled across. The main reason being that it contains probably the most valuable flowchart I’ve ever read.
This flowchart basically outlined everything I was looking for and explained it in one of the easiest to understand ways and I probably owe it to that flowchart for my current more comfortable financial position.
There are also a huge number of handy posts on reddit with some great advice and even more helpful redditors who are on hand to offer advice should you need something a bit more specific to you.
I would definitely recommend spending some time just lurking on there and reading the useful information in the sidebars and posts.
Monitor and Reduced My Spending
Then I started looking at where I was spending my money and what I could cut back on that I really didn’t need. Now I found this easiest by using an app called Moneydashboard. It works by using read only access to your bank accounts to monitor what you’re spending and where you’re spending it as well as a whole load of other things.
Once I had hooked it all up I found so many places that I could trim back on my spending. It was pretty shocking to see just how much I was spending on eating out. That was the easiest place for me to cut back. Now I try and limit myself to once per week as a treat.
Another quick way to save money was on my daily coffee. Rather than having a Costa caramel latte every morning, I switched that out for a Pret filter coffee (which I actually prefer the taste of) cutting the cost from around £3.30 down to 99p which works out as a saving of over £11 per week. £44 a month just on coffee!
I could cut that down even more by taking my own flask reducing the coffee to 49p, but I’m yet to find a cup that I like in the shops. I could cut out buying a coffee completely if I wanted to really save more money, but it’s one pleasure that I allow myself.
I think it’s best to allow yourself treats in moderation as is the same with anything that you’re trying to cut back on rather than going completely cold turkey.
Switch Bank Accounts
This is something I have done a few times now as the process is so easy and it gives you free money, so it’s definitely worth doing.
I previously banked with Halifax, just before Christmas I decided to jump over to Nationwide as they were advertising a £100 switching bonus if you changed to use them and used their switching service to do so.
There are some other requirements like having someone refer you who also gets £100 for the referral, but my dad had an account so he was happy to invite me and get his share of the money on offer.
I switched my accounts using their service which took just over two weeks from start to finish and once I had received my card, pin and online banking details I was good to go.
All I needed to do was inform my employer of changes to where I wanted my salary to go.
Nationwide took care of the rest by updating all my direct debits, standing orders and any other places that took payments from my account on a regular basis.
It’s probably the easiest £100 that I made and was paid into my account within a week of my switching over, just in time for Christmas.
There are deals like this all around at the moment where banks will offer you money to change to them and being honest if you have absolutely no allegiance to your current bank then I would highly recommend that you give some of them a try as free money is always worthwhile.
This is something that I wish I had been more interested in from a younger age, but being enrolled in a workplace pension is a fantastic as most employers match whatever you contribute up to a certain percentage.
This again is more free money, although you won’t see the benefit of this right now, you definitely will years down the line when you start to take some of your pension.
If you’ve read the flowchart above and have met the requirements of all the above steps then increasing the amount that you pay into your pension up to the highest amount that your employer will match is worthwhile to get as much free money from them as you can.
The great part about this is that the money is taken from you before it’s paid into your bank account so if you didn’t have it in the first place then you won’t really miss it.
Most if not all employers should be running some sort of pension scheme for employees, so it’s worth asking them what their highest matched contribution is and taking advantage of it.
Making Money Blogging
This is something that I’m actively throwing myself into in order to try and increase my income at the end of the month. The goal with this is to earn money through affiliate marketing which I’ve had moderate success with in the past.
Making money from blogging is something that would be a dream come true and I’m already making a little bit of extra income every month through things like the Amazon affiliates program and by recommending products that I think my readers will like.
It’s something that everyone can do and if you want it enough then you’ll find a way to do it. If you’re keen to get started with blogging and have yet to set up your own then I would definitely recommend getting started with bluehost and following my handy guide to starting your own blog.
I’m Still Learning
I’m still getting to grips with it all and I know that it’s going to be a work in progress, but I definitely feel a lot more in control now. If you’re in a bad situation with money then I would definitely recommend talking to someone who can help you get to a better place and not take my advice above as proper financial advice.
I’d love to know your tips on what you do to help manage your finances, pop them in the comments below if you feel it could be helpful to myself and others.