Good money management encompasses many things from saving for short and long term goals, to living within your means, and setting up a realistic plan to pay off your debts. And, no matter what your financial situation is like at the moment, it’s important to be aware of how much money you have coming in and going out. Keep reading for some vital tips on how to manage your bills and finances.
Set Up a Budget
If you want to get on top of your finances, you need to have a budget in place. Your budget should contain information regarding the payments that you receive, such as your wages or pension, as well as information regarding the payments that you make monthly such as your rent, your council tax, your phone bill etc. One way of doing this is in a spreadsheet, however you may find it more convenient to use a budget planner. The planner offered by the Money Advice Service will help you to come up with a detailed spending breakdown, and will also let you see how much money you will have left after paying major bills. This can help you to understand your finances and manage them better each month.
Managing Your Bills
Bills are one of the hardest things to manage when you first leave home. After all, you’ve probably never had to pay them before, and understanding the importance of paying them on time can be hard. To start with, you’ll almost always be given an option of how to pay for things like your council tax, gas and electricity, water, and TV license for example. Agreeing to pay by direct debit is ideal if you know you will have the money in your bank account – this enables the companies to take out a payment monthly or quarterly, and many companies offer discounts to those who pay by direct debit. However, you can usually also pay bills over the phone, by internet banking, by post, and at PayPoint and Payzone locations. When you first set up your utility bills, it’s wise to shop around and compare prices to ensure you’re not paying too much.
Shop Around for Financial Products
The cost of financial products can really vary, so it’s always a good idea to shop around for bank accounts, personal loans, and credit cards. Try to choose a bank account that lets you bank for free. And, if money is tight each month, you may also want to look for one that doesn’t charge you for using your overdraft or going overdrawn. The same is true of loans and credit cards. Use sites like Very Merry Loans and Compare the Market to find the best loan and credit lenders for your needs. Again, it’s best to sign up for a low interest option, unless you are sure you will be able to repay your credit before the payment is due.
Where possible, it’s also a good idea to save money so that you have some put aside in case you have an emergency. A savings account can help you earn interest on what you put away.