Managing your money
Getting your budget back on track
Seven ways to help you save cash
It’s not always easy to make the most of your money.
Perhaps you’re already at full stretch, paying down debt to put your personal finances back on track. Maybe you’ve slipped into bad money habits, and regularly spend more than you earn.
Or bigger bills and rises in the cost of living could be starting to bite, taking a chunk out of your budget.
If that’s the case for you, it could be hard to spot chances to cut back and save.
To help, we’ve a simple seven-day plan with tips from Barclays Savings and Investments Director Clare Francis.
Not every tip might apply to you but they’ll start you off thinking about how you might tweak or trim your spending.
Take it one day at a time – literally. Just 20 or 30 minutes a day is all you need. And within a week, you could be feeling much more confident about your cash.
DAY 1: Reboot your budget (or start one if you’ve never tried)
It’s hard to save if you don’t know how much spare cash you’ve got each month – and here’s where having a budget is really useful.
Already got one? If, like many, you’ve seen household bills shoot up, it’s as good a time as any to give it a onceover and make sure it still works for you. And if you’re new to budgeting, we’ve got a beginner’s guide that explains it all.
Once you’ve got a good picture of your finances, it’s much easier to get on top of them. “Taking control of your money is one of the most empowering things you can do,” Clare says. “But before you make any changes, take time to understand your current spending habits and circumstances.”
Quick tip: the ‘Spending’ feature in the Barclays app shows you what you’ve spent by week, month or year, as well as the shops you use the most.
DAY 2: Hunt for quick wins – then hack away at everyday spending
When was the last time you used a price comparison site? Maybe you’ve never tried one – but there’s no time like the present. A quick search for a new broadband, phone or TV package tariff could save you money every month. We’ve lots more ways to make sure you’re not overpaying for your essentials.
And quick and quirky money-saving tips can go a surprisingly long way. Ever heard of the 1p savings challenge? Or shopped at a police auction? Try these simple saving hacks to see if you can make your money go further.
Quick tip: if you tend to spend as soon as your pay cheque comes in, why not set up a standing order to your savings account for right after payday? It’s easier to save if you don’t see the money in the first place.
DAY 3: Let tech do the hard work to save time and money
Today, you can explore the ways technology can take a load off your finances. Let’s start with the Barclays app (of course). As well as showing you how much you spend on things like essentials, eating out and travel, it lets you set up saving pots with just a few quick taps. You can also get free text alerts, to tell you when you’ve been paid or if a big payment has gone out. You can even pay in cheques without having to go to a branch.
And if you regularly shop online, check out cashback sites – you could literally get paid to shop. Some services let you set alerts to find out when items go on sale. And you’ll often get a welcome discount just for signing up to a newsletter. Finally, if there’s a live chat, try asking for discounts. Big retailers have been known to give polite shoppers up to 10% off. If you don’t ask, you don’t get...
Quick tip: technology moves fast but fraudsters are always looking for new ways to take advantage. So brush up on financial security to keep you and your money safe.
DAY 4: Are you missing out on money?
It’s easy to stick with the status quo, so we tend to assume that all of our financial affairs are in order. But there are plenty of ways you could be paying more than you should – and not getting what you’re owed.
So take time to check your tax code, your council tax band and any old student loans. Plus, you can find out whether you’re owed a tax rebate for working at home, or even simply for being married.
Quick tip: while you’re in a money-saving mood, why not see if you could make a few (hundred) quid from your house? Here’s how to turn empty space into cash.
DAY 5: In debt difficulties? Ask for support
Most of us have debts, in one form or another. But if yours are causing you stress or financial problems, it’s time to get more support. However dire it may seem, there are ways to turn your situation around.
Have a look at our Money Management centre to see what we can do. “You’ll also find tips there to help you review outstanding debts, budget better and check your credit rating – all essential steps to understanding what shape your finances are in at the moment,” says Clare.
And if you’ve already got some savings, it’s a really good idea to think about using them to pay off your debts. In most cases, the cost of your debt is more than the interest you earn on your savings. Say you’re earning 1% interest on savings of £1,000. At the same time, you’re paying 18% interest on a £1,000 credit card. Pay off the card in full and you’re immediately £170 better off.
Quick tip: if you need extra help with your debt, the Citizens’ Advice website offers guidance and tips.
DAY 6: Set yourself a spectacular savings goal
Saving money is easier when you’ve got a crystal-clear goal in mind. So today, take some time to really visualise what you’d love to do with any spare cash you can save. Is it the new kitchen you can’t wait to decorate? The holiday of a lifetime, complete with cocktails on the beach? Maybe it’s simply a special dinner out with family and friends.
Whatever you choose, why not set up a savings goal in the Barclays app1? Simply choose a category, name your goal, select a target amount and set an optional end date. You’ll then see your personalised tracker, which you can use to keep an eye on your progress.
Quick tip: jot down your financial goal on a note, and stick it in your wallet as a reminder every time you reach for your card. That might help rein in any impulse buys.
DAY 7: Look after your credit rating (so it can look after you)
Big goals tend to have a big price tag. And whether you want to buy a house, drive your dream car or start your own business, you’ll probably have to borrow money to reach it. Here’s where having a good credit rating is critical. In a nutshell, it’s a score influenced by how well you’ve managed your money in the past. But there are lots of ways you can give yours a boost – from registering to vote to paying off pricey debt and closing down store cards you no longer use.
On the flip side, there are also things you’re better off avoiding, if you want to keep your credit rating healthy. Things like missing bill payments, taking out payday loans or not being aware of County Court Judgments against you. Here are the dos and don’ts to keep yours in good health.
Quick tip: Contact credit-reference agencies Experian, Equifax or TransUnion to see a copy of your credit file. If you find a mistake, you can appeal to have it corrected or ask for a note to be added to your file to detail any special circumstances.
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Worried about your finances? Our practical advice can help you tackle money troubles, improve your financial habits and find the support you need.