It’s fair to say that we find ourselves at a bit of an unusual juncture as a country. Whichever way you decided to vote in last year’s EU referendum, Brexit has clearly brought about its share of uncertainties. We are starting to feel the pinch at household level too, with inflation outstripping wage growth. It’s thus not a surprise that average consumer is beginning to tighten the purse strings for many of us.
One thing it does bring into sharp focus though is the need for us all to look after our family finances, and to make sure we live within our means, and build towards a secure financial future. That doesn’t mean doing anything dramatic – merely doing the little things right, and tying up a few loose ends. Here are a few quick and easy ways you can ensure your budget can be stretched that much further…
Get the whole team involved
Being smart (and prudent) with money is something you want to ingrain in your kids from a young age, so that they have a good understanding of the value of money. So why not get them involved with a fun savings competition? Allocate them a set amount for the week, and see who can save the most. Whoever wins gets to choose a fun weekend activity – or something to that effect. Aside from being a fun means of teaching good life lessons, it will also save the family household money, as, with everyone pulling in the same direction, the effect is magnified.
Trim your credit card debt
One of the most expensive – and unnecessary – wastes of money is paying interest on an outstanding credit card balance. It’s easily done, but the rates are usually extortionate! You can bring your balance back to zero with good old-fashioned discipline. However, there are even easier solutions too, such as transferring your balance to a new 0 per cent credit card, or simply taking out a low-cost loan to consolidate the high-interest amount you would otherwise have had to pay off.
Be a switcher
When it comes to changing gas and electricity providers, or even bank accounts, many people consider it to be a bureaucratic nightmare. But, since 2012, that is no longer the case, and the onus actually falls on the providers to switch everything over. In the case of gas and electricity, switching supplier can save you hundreds of pounds each year, while if you’re willing to change bank, you can earn rewards of up to £125 in cash for doing so. Not bad, when you consider it can all be gained for simply filling out an online form, and clicking a button!
Plan your meals
Deciding what you want to have for dinner on the day means more trips to the shops, which invariably means you spend a whole lot more money over time. By planning for the week ahead, you know exactly what ingredients you need, and what to get – no more, and no less. It will also mean you have a good idea of which shops to go to, and how to cut costs. And, in all likelihood, improve the scope for putting healthier food on the table too!
The cash trick
There’s lots of talk about cash becoming extinct, but it actually presents a great way to stick to your budget. Give yourself an allowance each week, and then draw that amount in cash. Leave the debit card at home, and simply survive on this. It will force you to cut out the unnecessary extras we often just unconsciously end up buying, and instil some good spending disciple – both for you and other family members.
DISCLOSURE – This is a collaborative post.