Make the most of what you’ve got!
Carers can be time poor and cash poor, despite working all hours. So, you need to get wise about money – the sooner the better.
The Feel-Good Savings Habit
Saving is a great move to feel good about money and you can start with a jar! Try putting your 50p and lower coins in it and see how soon you save £10. The next step is to have a virtual jar. Start a separate savings account and decide how much to put in it every time you get paid. This way you won’t spend it, and even just £5 will soon grow. Or use a clever savings app like Plum.
Budgeting – the Ins and Outs
One way to keep track of your cash is to stop using your contactless card. Instead, take real money out of the hole-in-the-wall once a week. Another way is to use an app bank account. Load the app account with your spending money for each month, not your bills money. You’ll be able to see exactly where it’s all disappearing.
When you get the hang of it, you might like to put all your money in the bank app account to keep track of all your spending. If you do this, don’t forget to set aside a little bit of savings somewhere else every pay day.
Budgeting – planning
The aim is simple: Don’t spend more than you earn. You can check this very simply.
- List money coming in (this will be short).
- List money going out regularly (this will be long).
- Decide a yearly amount for occasional items, like clothes and gifts, and divide it by 12 months.
There’s an online budget planner that lists everything you could possibly spend money on. You can enter how frequently each cost happens and it neatly calculates monthly costs for you. Once you’ve filled it in you can see if you’re spending more or less than you earn. If you’re spending too much, you can fiddle around with reducing your costs until your ins and outs match!
- First ask yourself “Do I need it? Or do I want it?”
- Look at free sites before you spend.
- Leave things in your online shopping basket. Check your emails for reminders with a discount offer!
- Go to the supermarket in the evening for discounts. But don’t go when you’re hungry!
- Plan your meals for a week & make a shopping list. This takes practice but it works.
- Get family subscriptions to Amazon Prime or Netflix. You can share with friends.
- Check for vouchers.
- Watch your energy costs and learn to switch. The savings can be huge.
Good Debt and Bad Debt
The difference is whether you can plan to pay it back in a known amount of time. Never use a credit card because you can’t pay for what you need every month.
There’s nothing wrong with using a credit card to spread the cost of a big purchase. Before you buy decide how much you can pay back each month and how long it will take to completely pay off. The shortest time is always the cheapest. Set up a direct debit to be sure that you never skip a payment and don’t get stung with a late payment charge.
Don’t be afraid to get help. It’s easier than you think to turn around the situation. Money problems do affect your mental health and getting it under control can help you feel a lot better. There are excellent advice centres that are free. Find out more here.
For all money matters, Martin Lewis OBE is our consumer champion. Make friends with his website!