Financial expert Jurg Widmer Probst lists his top nine financial tips to help you budget better, plan ahead and deal with your money worries.
Who doesn’t need a bit of financial help in this challenging times? Even if you’re not overly concerned about your income, it’s always a good idea to take stock and review your finances on a regular basis.
And if you’re finding it difficult to manage your budget at all, it’s definitely time to review your income. Managing your income and budgeting for your family or your personal needs can feel like an uphill task. But it doesn’t have to be. Often the hardest thing to do is sit down and decide to do it.
Jurg Widmer Probst: My top 9 financial tips and tricks to help you budget
- Always spend less than you earn
This is the simplest tip, but also the most difficult for some people to follow. Firstly, make sure you’re being paid the going rate for your job role. Have a look online to find out the typical salary your job commands and consider whether you’re being paid what you’re actually worth.
Take into account all of the tasks you do in your role, your productivity levels, your skill base and experience. If you then feel that you have a solid case to talk to your boss about a pay rise, do so. If that doesn’t work, it could be time to look for a better paid role.
Either way, regardless of your salary, if you consistently spend more than you bring in, you’ll struggle financially. It’s usually easier to budget properly and spend less each month than to easily find a better paid job. Cutting your spending doesn’t have to mean living without, and just some modest cost cutting can go a long way to helping you save.
- Set a budget and stick to it
Budgeting is the single most important thing you can do, particularly if you feel your finances are running out of control. Take a deep breath and figure out exactly where all of your money is going. Without this, there is no meaningful way to set and stick to any savings goals. Whatever your income stream, sit down and write out a budget. Keep it online or in a notebook, just make sure you keep it. This will instantly help you to feel in control and bring clarity to your personal finances.
- If you have credit card debt, pay it off
For many people, credit card debt is a huge obstacle to getting ahead. Credit cards are just so convenient and easy to use. For most people, it’s not too tricky to get large credit limits on their cards, and this can add to the feeling of freedom with spending – as if it’s not real money you have to pay back.
When you’ve accrued credit card debt, of course, the interest kicks in. While we all have the intention to pay our credit cards off quickly, this resolve can easily slip away. All of this ends up with us paying far more for our purchases than if we just stumped up the cash in the first place.
Pay off your credit cards as quickly as possible. If this takes a while and you’re paying lots of interest, search for a good deal online for a new credit card with zero interest. Transfer your balances and consolidate onto this one card. This does incur a one-off charge, but that is far better than paying hefty interest rates every month.
- Set up a savings plan
If you wait too long before setting up a savings strategy, you may find you never get round to building a healthy cash backup. It’s tempting to want to wait until you have fulfilled all of your financial obligations before setting money aside. But this is a false economy. Instead, decide to save at least 5% of your monthly salary, come what may. Treat it as another bill that has to be paid. Ideally, arrange for it to be automatically taken from your account and switched into a savings account. That way you won’t even notice.
- Consider investing
Investing your money can sound scary, but there are lots of ways to spread the risk and invest through professional funds. Assuming you already have a savings account set up, and you’re contributing to some form of pension, it’s also a good idea to put some money into other investments too.
- Check your direct debits
Over the years, the chances are that you’ve set up endless direct debits or standing orders for services you don’t even use anymore. Take some time to go through your bank statements and cancel all direct debits that no longer apply. You may be surprised how much money has just been leaching from your account unnecessarily.
- Go through your insurance agreements
It’s too easy to pay way over the odds for all kinds of insurance, ranging from life to contents. You may have automatically added all kinds of insurance policies to car loans or bought the wrong kind of life insurance for your personal needs. Of course, you must have insurance but make sure you’re only paying out what is absolutely necessary.
- Sort out your Will
Statistically, under half of the adult population in the UK have written a Will. Regardless of how much you own, how much you make and how many dependents you have, you need to have a Will. It’s pretty simple to set up a Will online if your circumstances are simple. For anything more complex, it’s a good idea to go to a solicitor.
- Keep meticulous financial records
Keeping thorough records is a good idea, whatever your circumstances. This includes everything you spend, the income you make and keeping on top of investments and savings. If you’re self-employed, then it’s even more important that you keep strict records so that filing your taxes is easy. Set up a proper system that works for you and ensure that everything is always filed away. Putting the work in now makes it much easier in the long run.