Create a spreadsheet
Instead of constantly trying to work things out in your head and making rough estimates on how much money you have left for the month, make things a whole lot easier by creating a spreadsheet. At first glance, these can seem a little daunting but it’s really easy once you get used to it and there are many free spreadsheet websites online which work out all the sums for you. By having your outgoings on a list in front of you, you can identify what you’re saving on and what you perhaps need to cut back on.
Avoid shopping when you’re feeling emotional or hungry
You’re feeling a little down in the dumps but you need a new work shirt - bad idea. Turn around, get back inside the house, lock the doors, and ask someone to hide your keys right now – if you’re feeling emotional there’s a high chance you will end up splurging on stuff you don’t really need to give you a quick happiness boost. After spending five minutes looking for a shirt, you return with a few tins of paint to revamp the house, a new wardrobe of clothes, and a mop for the kitchen floor, but the new work shirt is nowhere to be seen. Whilst these spur-of-the-moment purchases may uplift your mood for an hour or two, the initial high will soon wear off and you’ll be left feeling worse as you realise you’re left with nothing more than a few bargains and an empty bank account. For a thriftier approach to shopping, go when you’re in a pretty good mood and – whatever you do – don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry.
Surround yourself with exciting hobbies and positive people
Rather than spending money on takeaways and meals out to cheer you up after a long hard day, identify other things you like doing that will boost your mood instead of spending money. Arrange some fun things to do with family and friends around your house or take up a new hobby such as gardening or crafts. We often end up spending more when we’re bored, emotional, and/or lonely so plan a film night with your family or buy a few ingredients from the grocery store and try cooking something you’ve never made before.
Save little and often
It’s a common mistake to think that you can’t start saving because you don’t have much money, but that’s like saying you won’t go on that one hour run because you don’t have the whole day off to exercise – it’s counterproductive and unrealistic. Experts advise that the best way to boost your bank balance is by taking the ‘little and often’ approach to saving. Rather than putting a lump sum of your month’s wages into a savings account and leaving very little to live off for the rest of the month, just put a small amount away as often as possible and the money will mount up without you even noticing it. The more you see your bank balance rising, the more you will want to keep adding to it. Go on, try it – it’s addictive.
Put some money aside for pleasure
It’s important to treat yourself occasionally to avoid getting frustrated and spending all your savings at once, so make sure you include a little “happy time” money in your budget to treat yourself every now and again. Do you want a new television for the living room? Save up for one. Fancy a small break somewhere nice? Save up for it. Once you’ve saved up for something and reached your target amount, you’ll feel much better than you would if you spent money that you didn’t really have in the first place.
Read a finance blog or make your own
Personal finance blogs are becoming an increasingly popular form of inspiration for many people; they can encourage you to save and adopt good financial habits in the process. It’s also really interesting to take a sneaky peak into the lives of other people and see what they enjoy the odd splurge on. If you’re feeling really brave, you could create your own finance blog to share your own tips and advice with others. This will not only help you to network with other people in the same financial mindset as you, but it will encourage you to save more so that you can feel extra proud of yourself when you share how well you’re doing with others.
If you’re really feeling the pinch and you need advice, don’t feel ashamed to seek support from others. You may feel like a little fish in a big pond when it comes to finances, so seek advice from a financial expert who will have a lot of experience dealing with problems like yours. Your financial adviser will come up with a realistic plan to help you sort out any money difficulties. Perhaps even check for a free government run money advice service, rather then forking out for a private professional.