The UK has been shaken by the recent Brexit vote in the EU referendum, and the fallout – although perhaps not as bad as some predicted – continues to make markets shudder. The impact has been diverse, affecting things like house prices, predicted growth, and, alarmingly for savers, interest rates too. This all has a ripple effect down to consumer level, and, as an individual, it’s hard to avoid that sense of uneasiness that comes with periods of sustained economic uncertainty.
It’s easier said than done, but we need to do our best to put such macroeconomic forces, which are largely not within our control, out of our minds, and instead focus on taking care of our finances at home. After all, the best protection you can afford yourself is sensible spending, and avoiding any undue reliance on debt.
So, to help the cause, here are five pieces of advice to help ensure that your finances remain in a good state of health.
- The Budget Makeover
The best starting point is to do a double take on your existing incomings versus outgoings. Are you living within your means? Could you save more than you do? Sitting down and scribbling a budget down on a piece of paper might seem old fashioned, but if you record your expenditure for a month – or even just a week – you’ll probably be amazed at the level of fat you can trim off without sacrificing too much. Whether it’s that daily Costa coffee, filling your shopping cart unnecessarily while waiting in the aisle, excesses in general, or a ‘see-cash, spend-cash mentality’, chances are that some budget planning will highlight a bad spending habit or two for you to kick.
- The Cunning Saver
The old cliché ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is very much applicable to personal finance too. A great trick to help you save for expenses in the future such as holidays, Christmas shopping, cars, or even just a rainy day is to have segregated accounts for each. You can set up as many as you like, and then after that it’s a simple case of sending some money off into each of them every month – even if it’s just £10 or £20 to start with. As time goes by, these savings will build up nicely, and when the time comes to actually pay for these different things, there’ll be no shock to the system at all.
- Borrowing Sensibly
Contrary to popular stigma, turning to debt isn’t always a bad thing. Aside from mortgages and other secured finance, there are many positive reasons for taking out a loan, such as improving your home, buying a car or even consolidating existing high interest debts. What’s more, rates for borrowing at the moment are as low as they ever have been. The key is to choose a personal loan that is favourable for you, offering a low APR and a repayment plan tailored to your needs – rather than just lumping things onto a credit card which can get expensive.
- Become A ‘Deal Expert’
As marketplaces become more and more competitive, incredible deals continue to flow. For example, you can get up to 5 per cent cashback when you spend on your credit card, an endless line of restaurant vouchers, family railcards, huge discounts on family days out, and much more. Sites like Groupon and VoucherCodes are a good place to start, but the key is to have all eyes and ears peeled so as to make sure you don’t miss out when these money-saving offers become available.
- Share The Load
It’s very important to make sure that you aren’t the only person in the household focused on being diligent with money. After all, it can render your efforts pointless if your work is being cancelled out by the financial indulgences of another family member. It’s never a fun conversation to have, but, if necessary, don’t be scared to sit them down and constructively produce a collective plan going forward. Because if you’re all pulling in the same direction, you’ll be amazed at the financial progress you’ll be able to make.