Do you ever feel a sudden sense of dread when you remember that you’re not quite as on top of your finances as you ought to be? It’s normal to have the occasional moment of panic when you think about loans, mortgages, retirement and those big financial commitments that will inevitably pop up over time.
As the years pass, you tell yourself that you’ll get around to sorting it out eventually. Next thing you know, you’re getting married, applying for a mortgage, starting a family - and you still feel like you have no idea what you’re doing when it comes to managing your money. Not everyone knows how to budget or plan their finances and that’s okay! In fact, there’s no better time to up your money management game than right now. The thing about managing money is that it all comes down to learning and practicing a set of skills. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.
We want to give you some practical tips to help you get serious about your money. Now let's get started...
Step 1. Get organised
You’re fed up with not knowing how to handle your finances. You’ve acknowledged that there’s room for improvement and now it’s time to get organised. You should start paying attention to your money if you want to take control of it.
Getting organised involves:
- Tracking spending
- Keeping receipts
- Keeping bills in one place
- Getting notebooks, software or apps you might need
- Thinking about your goals
- Creating a budget
- Talking with your partner about plans
Step 2. Set goals
The kind of goals you set will depend on your financial priorities. Decide what’s most important to you right now and figure out how much you need to put away each month to reach your goals.
Examples of financial goals include:
- Paying off debts or loans
- Children’s education funds
- Saving for a mortgage
- Buying a car
- Saving for a new-born
- Saving for retirement
- Saving for a wedding
- Renovating your home
Step 3. Start budgeting
A budget can play a central role in improving your money management. With a budget, you could have greater control over your finances, and you might find it easier to reach financial goals. Making a budget may be easier than you think with our guide to creating and maintaining a budget.
Step 4. Start an emergency fund
If you have any financial responsibilities or dependents, then you should consider prioritising an emergency fund. Life is full of unexpected expenses, and it could be best to prepare for the worst. You never know when your roof might spring a leak. You could end up with costly medical bills following an accident or illness. You may need to pay a significant mechanic’s bill following a breakdown. Unfortunately, there is a lot that could go wrong and while we can always be positive, it’s best to be prepared.
Step 5. Be more price conscious
This might seem like an obvious one, but it’s something that many people don’t take seriously enough. When we say ‘be more price conscious’ we don’t just mean looking out for deals in the supermarket (although that’s a good place to start).
Start by reviewing your bills and utilities. Can you get a better deal elsewhere? Are there subscriptions you don’t use enough?
Think about your weekly shop. Could you spend more time bargain hunting and comparing products? Can you switch to name brand items? Is there a cheaper supermarket nearby? Could a well-thought-out shopping list help you save?
Get to know your consumer rights. You should always know your rights as a consumer. This applies to contracts, buying appliances, returning items and so on. Being familiar with your consumer rights could save you money.
You could be entitled to grants or benefits. You should look into government grants and benefits and check if you’re entitled to anything. There is financial help available for all sorts of things from support for new parents to building eco-friendly homes.
Are there any discounts or vouchers you can avail of? Could shopping online save you money? Could you spend more time comparing deals and prices? Thinking about where you could save money on everyday things can make you a price-conscious spender.
Step 6. Create a debt pay-off strategy
Paying off outstanding debts is not only good for your credit record, but it will give you peace of mind. If you can get ahead of your debts, you’ll be better equipped to take care of other financial commitments. When budgeting, consider making this a priority.
Step 7. Prepare for the future
If you’re worried about how your family might cope financially should you pass away, it could be worth your while considering life insurance. With our Smart Family Life policy, you could put from £60,000 up to £750,000 worth of cover in place depending on your age. This could give you peace of mind knowing that you’ve put some financial protection in place for your loved ones should the worst happen.
There are no complicated forms – just a quick phone application. If you take out cover, you're protected from day 1 (except if death is the result of self-inflicted injury in the first 12 months). Should you be diagnosed with a terminal illness, you’ll receive 100% benefit paid in advance. All Smart Insurance policyholders also get a free Will Kit worth £100. With straightforward instructions, this could help you get your financial affairs in order. Life insurance is just another way to help protect the ones you love most.