How often do you review your finances? Are you one of those people crossing your fingers and hoping it’s going to just turn out ok down the line?!
While most people will agree poring over spreadsheets or setting a monthly budget isn’t the most exciting of activities, keeping a finger on the pulse when it comes to all things financial can make a real difference to your life - both now and in the future.
Having a busy schedule, illness, or even worries about money itself can cause us to neglect our finances. It can also be a challenge for people who have executive dysfunction, as a result of neurodiversity such as ADHD. But with a little extra attention and a few tricky tricks, it’s possible to streamline your finances, save money, and build for a brighter future.
With the current cost-of-living crisis causing many of us to tighten our belts, now’s the ideal time to take back control! The good news is it might not take as much effort as you think, there are ways to make it more interesting (honest!), and the rewards make it more than worthwhile.
Little and often
In this fast-paced world, many of us feel we don’t have time to study bank statements or examine our monthly outgoings. But taking just half an hour a week to check ins and outs with online banking could make a real difference to your finances.
Leaving a task for a long time can cause it to build up – until you have several hours’ work ahead. But checking things little and often break the task into bitesize pieces – meaning it’s much more manageable.
If you decide to manage your finances in this way, try starting out with a plan. Write a list of things to research or tasks to do at each session to ensure you make the most of your valuable time.
Gamify your planning
If you’re the kind of person who needs something to be fun and visual, there are now a number of savings apps that enable you to gamify your finances. Many of them have quests to complete, awards to win for saving, and so on. Some of them will even save a tiny sum of money each time you spend, so you don’t even know you’re doing it!
Eyes on the prize
This comes up time and time again but it’s amazing how few people tackle it. Subscriptions that you don’t use.
It can be hard to sit down at a screen or desk and study a bank statement – many of us are guilty of procrastinating to avoid this (frankly rather boring) task. But try and look at it as if you’re being paid for the time. By checking your subscriptions you could make instant savings – meaning more cash to spend right now!
According to a survey by Citizen’s Advice Bureau, people in the UK spend more than £300m per year paying for subscriptions they don’t use, often because of auto-renewal. As subscriptions are often relatively low-cost, it can be easy to overlook the small sum disappearing each month.
But checking where your money is going and cancelling unwanted subscriptions could yield significant savings – almost like being paid to read your bank statement.
Often when we’re looking for more money to pay for life’s little luxuries, we’ll consider taking on extra hours at work, or even a second job. But if we tune up our spending, we might discover that we’re already earning enough.
Taking our eye off the financial ball can mean that we’re wasting money – even just a little here and there can add up to a lot over time. There are many ways to cut expenditure. For example, shopping around for new deals on insurance, looking at ways to cut our electricity use, or finding savvy shortcuts when it comes to the weekly shop.
While shopping around for new deals can take time, even a modest saving of £10 a week could add up to a decent sum over a year.
To incentivise yourself, why not put any money saved in an account earmarked for something fun? See how quickly you can save by trimming back unnecessary spending.
Focus on the future
In a world where we’re often preoccupied with day-to-day concerns, it can be hard to think about retirement. A recent survey by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed that 1 in 6 people aged 40-75 in the UK have no retirement savings.
While it might be hard to think about putting something away, investing in the right pension plan or savings account could make all the difference to your future. And the good news is, even saving a small amount could make a big difference over time. For example, someone aged 50 who puts away just £50 a month could accrue over £10,000 by the time they reach state pension age at 67. And that’s without any investment growth or tax relief.
Outsource the work
If you are seriously busy, or feel completely at a loss when it comes to finances, there is low-cost or free help at hand. Why not give our free Pension Buddy Retirement Health Check a go, or you take advantage of the services offered by MoneyHelper and book a free Pension Wise session.
Re-engage and save
Tackling your finances might seem dull or feel stressful. But with minimal effort you could free up money for something fun, and feather your nest for the future.