There is nothing more frustrating than finding out you are spending money on things you don’t need, or have outgoings you haven’t even noticed, but it’s an all-too-common problem for many of us. Saving money is a skill that isn’t necessarily taught at school – but it’s important.
By taking the time to future-proof your finances and planning how you spend your money, you could dramatically increase the amount of money you have available to spend on the things you want – as well as having more money available in the future.
Financial security isn’t just about the present– it’s about planning for your future
If the coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that you never know what’s just around the corner. Life as you know it can change in the blink of an eye, and it’s much easier to deal with curveballs – particularly financial ones – if you have a plan and a safety net. And yet, 11 million adults in the UK have less than £100 in savings, with a third of over 50’s having no private pension.
It’s never too late to start saving and planning, but it can be difficult if you feel like there’s no space in your budget. It’s tempting to let saving for your future fall to the bottom of the list as you prioritise other, more urgent, things, but making sure that you set aside at least a small amount of your income is vital.
Why future-proofing your finances is vital
The benefits of planning how you spend your money are numerous, and will positively impact both your material financial situation and your mental wellbeing. Having a realistic budget and a solid plan for your income will help you to achieve more financial freedom, making things like paying off debt, saving to buy a house or retiring early a realistic prospect, rather than a pipe dream.
Properly planning your income will also help you to have more money available for the things that you value and enjoy in the present, whether that’s travel, home renovations or self-care like a gym membership or therapy.
The first step is to identify what’s holding you back
Some of the things that might hold you back when it comes to building a financial cushion can be hard to identify, and even more difficult to tackle. The most common ways that people trip themselves up are:
- Not setting financial goals, and just drifting from month to month with no plan.
- Spending impulsively or habitually, rather than mindfully.
- Yo-yo saving, i.e. putting money away at the beginning of the month, but needing to dip back into it because of poor budgeting.
- Saving money in one big pot, without giving each pound a purpose.
- Not knowing where to save your money in order to get the best return and the right level of access.
The good news is that if you can change a few small things, and introduce a few simple new habits, saving and planning will be much easier.
A goal without a plan is just a wish
Setting financial goals is a great way to start making progress but, in order to achieve your aims, you’ll also need a plan. For every goal you set, you should also create a plan for how you’re going to achieve it, and a realistic timeline, too.
For example, if your goal is to buy a house, you will first need to calculate how much you need to save for your deposit, as well as any debt that needs to be repaid or outgoings that need to be reduced to make you more attractive to mortgage lenders. Then, you can start to look at how much of your monthly income you need to allocate, and how long it’s likely to take. Creating a path to your goals will help you to feel more motivated and in control.
Practical ways to maximise your income and save for a rainy day
The good news is that if you can change a few small things, and introduce a few simple new habits, saving and planning will be much easier. These are some of our top things to consider:
Live with a budget
Knowing what’s coming in and what’s going out will help you to identify where you can make cuts in order to maximise your disposable income.
Keep your subscriptions in check
Especially with smaller monthly costs for things like entertainment, it’s easy to allow them to creep up without noticing,
Consider automating your savings
You could either set up a standing order to a savings account to go out on pay day, so that the money is saved as soon as it hits your account, or use a savings app to siphon off small amounts throughout the month.
Be careful with credit card spending
Spending on credit, be that using a credit card or a Buy Now Pay Later scheme, is often easier than spending cash, because the pleasure of buying is separate from the pain of paying. In other words, it might make budgeting easier in the short term, but it’s likely to make it more difficult down the line. Spending on a credit card is not necessarily an issue, as long as it’s planned and budgeted for – just watch out for those impulse buys.
Use a shopping list
Shopping lists are as useful in everyday life as they are in the supermarket. Keeping a running list of things that you want or need will help you to prioritise and be more mindful of what you’re spending.
You’ll feel the benefits of today’s plan long into the future
Creating the right plan now will create a ripple effect into your financial future. Reducing your outgoings by cutting monthly bills and changing your spending habits will have a cumulative effect on your financial situation, giving you fewer financial commitments as you pay down any debt, costing you less in fees and interest and enabling you to have more disposable cash and decision-making power.
Ultimately, the plans and decisions you make now will lay the groundwork for your financial wellbeing for years to come, so it’s worthwhile to get it right.
- Have a plan – they can always be adapted as your circumstances change.
- Make saving a priority, rather than a second thought.
- Positive changes that you make now will be amplified in the future.