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Simple steps to help boost your finances in a week
Are you making the most of your money? Try our 7 simple steps to help refresh your finances and get more from your money.
Working towards buying your dream home, or simply want to commit to a spending detox? Whatever your plans, it’s important to make the most of the money you have.
And sorting out your finances doesn’t have to be hard – sometimes keeping it simple is the answer.
Here’s a 7-day plan – with expert tips from Barclays Savings and Investments Director Clare Francis – to help you overhaul your finances in just one week.
Day 1 – figure out your spending patterns and nail your budget
A check-in with your accounts is a great first step. That way, before adjusting your financial plan, you’ve got a good understanding of your strengths and weaknesses.
Take time to create a detailed budget using our Budget Planner tool. Think about what you spend over the whole year, not just in a good month, so you get a realistic view of your spending.
Effective budget planning should be able to tell you if you’re spending more than you earn, where your crunch points are and what you can afford.
Once you’ve got a budget in place, you can then set yourself realistic financial objectives and map out how to achieve them.
“Taking control of your money is one of the most empowering things you can do. But before you make any changes, take time to understand your current spending habits and circumstances,” Clare says.
Quick tip. One way to put spending in perspective is to work out what a purchase costs you in work hours or weeks. For example, a £3 coffee a day would cost you roughly 3 weeks of working if you earned £30,000 a year. Give MoneySavingExpert’s Demotivator tool a try.
Day 2 – get a handle on your debts
Managing debt can be overwhelming but no debt problems are unsolvable. There are many things you can do to take the stress out of debt repayments.
If you’ve borrowed from different lenders, one option could be to apply for a debt consolidation loan. This means you can manage your debt repayments in one place and repay a fixed monthly amount that you can factor into your budget plan to help make it more manageable.
Got savings? One option is that you could use them to pay off debts. It might seem wiser to have an emergency or rainy day savings fund but it’s actually better to pay off debts first to avoid added borrowing costs.
For more ways to get on top of your debt and deal with money worries, explore the tools available on our Money Management centre and see what we can do to help. 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 kind of shape your finances are in at the moment,” says Clare.
Quick tip. If you need a loan and you have your salary paid into your Barclays account, we could help you with a personalised loan rate. You can also see how much you could borrow before you apply.
Day 3 – find your ‘quick wins’
There are several ways to check you’re not overpaying for the essentials – including everything from households bills to your weekly supermarket shop.
Are your electricity bills taking up an increasing percentage of your hard-earned cash? Try a price-comparison website to see if you could get a better deal. Is your home in the correct council tax band? Find out using your postcode. Do you spend immediately after your pay cheque comes in? Consider setting up a standing order to your savings account the day after pay day.
“Ditching bad habits and embracing money-saving lifestyle changes, such as cycling to work, can help. But there are also wins to be had by being savvier about your accounts. Are you getting the most from your current account? Have you checked for hidden fees and interest rates?” Clare asks.
You can also use the Barclays Mobile Banking app to get a clear view of your finances– so you can see where your money is going and where you could be overspending.
Quick tip. Set up free text alerts to help you stay on top of your repayments and avoid borrowing fees. You can also register for weekly-balance or low-balance alerts.
Day 4 – do something interactive
Whether it’s an interactive budgeting tool or a quiz to find out what kind of saver you are, there are many ways to make money management interesting.
Our Financial Wings tool is made up of videos, quizzes and interactive articles that help you achieve your financial goals – and you don’t need to have an account with us to use it.
To kick off, you’ll take a quiz to build a profile and can then view the modules that best fit your financial needs. Complete as many modules as you can, and you’ll collect points to track your progress as you answer questions and try activities.
Quick tip. Try a gold-coin challenge. Stick your new 12-sided £1 coins and your £2 coins in a jar and, when it’s full, deposit them into your account for a quick boost.
Day 5 – sign up for perks
We all need to spend money from time to time – whether it’s on some retail therapy or a night out – but there are ways to make spending work in your favour.
With Barclays Blue Rewards, you could earn cash each month for having an account, a mortgage or insurance with us. Each month, you could get up to £7 for two Direct Debits, £5 for your mortgage and up to another £3 for insurance if you sign up1. Plus, you could get cashback when you shop through us2. You just need to pay a £3 fee each month.
“Simply being smarter about how you shop can really help. If you have an account with us, are you taking advantage of Barclays Blue Rewards, which can get you cashback in 200 stores, plus loyalty rewards?” Clare asks.
Quick tip. Doing your weekly shop online? Try a comparison site like mySupermarket to compare your shopping trolley across various supermarkets so you can get the best deal.
Day 6 – set up a savings goal
One way to track your progress is to set up a savings account for a specific goal, whether that’s saving for a house, holiday or car. The sooner you lay out a plan, the sooner you’ll be on track to achieving it.
With our savings goal tool, you can set up an account and choose a name for it, as a reminder of why you’re saving.
You can track your personalised goal whenever you log in to Online Banking. To help make sure you stick to your savings goal, you can set up a regular standing order payment to the account.
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.
Day 7 – focus on the future
Whatever you’re planning for the future – be it buying a car, a house or starting a business – making those plans a reality will rely on your credit score.
Your score can affect your ability to borrow for a mortgage or a loan, and is mostly influenced by the way you’ve managed your money in the past. There are lots of simple steps you can take to give your credit score a boost – from registering to vote to throwing out credit or store cards you no longer use.
On the flip side, there are also things that can have a harmful effect on your credit score that it would be wise to avoid – such as taking out payday loans or missing bill payments. Find out more about how to improve your credit score.
Quick tip. Check your credit score with Experian, to understand how it can affect your ability to borrow, and how to improve it.
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