We do our best when it comes to managing money – but for some, it’s not enough. A survey by TheMoneyPig.com suggests 64% of Brits run out of money before payday, with 28% opting to borrow from friends, family or both.
It’s no wonder some of us are rubbish at managing our finances, though – schools don’t teach us it (would’ve been useful) and as adults, we have to contend with the often overwhelming world of money – increasing interest rates, overdrafts, tax confusions, credit rating woes, and hard-to-navigate booklets we never read.
According to a recent YouGov survey, 29% of people say their financial circumstances have worsened in the past six months, and with new overdraft rules about to come into play, it’s time to get on top of things.
Here’s how to make sure your money lasts – so you’re not caught short before your next payday.
#1 Budget like a boss
The key is to plan – and yes, it might sound mind-numbingly boring (we know, you’d much rather be doing literally anything other than financial planning), but it will save you stress at the end of the month, week, or whenever you get paid.
Money expert Kane Georgiou, from TheMoneyPig.com, urges people to use a cashflow sheet – basically a budget planner – which details what money is coming in and out of your bank account every month.
“All expenses should be written down and accounted for, so you know exactly how much you have left,” says Georgiou. The Money Advice Service has a budget planner tool to get you started.
#2 Shop around for cheaper bill providers
Once you’ve done this, reassess what you’re spending every month. Andrew Johnson, money expert at the Money and Pensions Service, says a good way to cut back is to shop around for the best deals on essentials like energy or broadband.
“Check comparison sites to see if you’re getting the best deal on your credit card, mobile phone and energy supplier,” he suggests. It’s estimated that the average household can save £300 a year by switching gas and electricity supplier.
It’s a bit of an admin task short-term, but it’ll be worth it long-term. Take a day to methodically work through your bills, suggests Steve Nowottny, news editor at MoneySavingExpert.com: “It may not be fun, but for most it’ll be their best-paid day of the year – many can save thousands on everything from energy to childcare.”
#3 Save what you save
If you’re making savings from switching providers, Johnson advises you to put this extra money into a separate savings account – rather than spending it. “Don’t worry if it’s only a small amount, this can add up in the long term,” he says.
Even if you aren’t making savings from your bills, it’s still worth saving a little bit of cash each month so you always have a buffer. Treat your savings like you’re paying a bill. Set up a regular payment into your savings account – this could be £10, £20, £100 or more – so you have money on the side for emergencies.
#4 Get savvy with cash
A helpful way to cut down on overspending – especially for those who are partial to online shopping – is to take the money you have left to spend out in cash, and only use cash for purchases for the month.
Georgiou says this is a good idea because using a debit or credit card for all purchases is an easy way to rack up debt without knowing.
#5 Turn to tech and use an app
Some banks, like Monzo, help you monitor your spending by sending app alerts as and when you buy something – at the end of the month you can see how much you’ve spent at Starbucks, for example. Often, just seeing you’ve spent £50+ at a coffee shop in one month can help you cut down.
#6 Seek advice from those in the know
If you’re really struggling to stay out of the red each month, don’t panic. There are free, non-profit debt counselling agencies that can offer one-on-one help if you’re in debt crisis. Nowottny recommends trying Citizens Advice, Stepchange Debt Charity or National Debtline. You can also use the debt advice locator tool on the Money Advice Service website to find an adviser in your local area.
#7 Consider your overdraft... as a last resort
If you can’t make ends meet, now may be a good time to consider using your overdraft facility on your bank account if you think you’ll only occasionally dip into it, says Johnson. “However, if you’re in your overdraft for most of the month, you could face additional costs.”