5 simple tips for managing your money

Posted on March 31, 2017 by Eleanor McKenzie
Mature woman checking bills

How many times have you promised yourself that you’ll manage your money better and perhaps even manage to save some only to find that it never quite happens? Somehow, in my case at least, the thought seems to be where my good intentions end, and it just keeps coming in and flowing out in the same old rhythm as before.

I know that I need to get past the point where it’s an idea and actually take some action, so I have researched five simple tips for ensuring that more of your hard-earned cash stays with you.

1. Plastic is your last resort

We have become increasingly used to using credit and debit cards when we’re shopping, and of course they are essential when you’re buying online. In fact, I know that I, and many of my friends, are so accustomed to using cards that you’ll often hear us say when the bill comes in a restaurant or bar, “Oh, I don’t have any cash on me!” And, when you pay with plastic, it’s like you’re not spending money at all, is it not?

Therefore, using cash more often than you use a card is one way to save. It’s even better if you can estimate how much cash you’ll need each week to cover non-essentials, such as coffee, a few drinks or a cinema ticket/book and take it out on a specific day. You’ll be able to see how far it goes and pinpoint more exactly where you’re spending it.

2. Look after the pennies

My grandmother used to keep telling me, “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.” It took me some time to make the idea stick, but it’s a worthwhile one. Keeping a jar for small change is an effortless way of saving. Nobody wants a purse or pocket full of small coins, or ‘shrapnel’ as my London friends refer to it, and emptying them out every day into your jar soon results in a decent amount. You could even set a target of three or six months after which time you take them to your bank and exchange them for notes.

3. Save your takeaways

I’m not suggesting you give up takeaways altogether, but, depending on how often you have one delivered, decide to substitute one or two a month into a deposit into your savings account instead. Instead of spending that £30 or whatever on a meal, transfer it from your current account to a savings account. In a year, you can treat yourself to something more memorable than a takeaway.

4. Keep a sharp eye on bills

It used to be that you didn’t have a choice about your energy supplier and you had to pay whatever they charged. Now, you can make some savings by regularly analysing your electric and gas bills and comparing your current supplier’s tariffs with other companies. And, using a service like energyhelpline makes it so much easier. Internet and TV channel packages are other services that need to be checked regularly and you can make some significant savings here as well by taking time to compare prices, or taking advantage of specific offers.

5. Call in a specialist

If you are considering a more complex financial transaction, perhaps related to pension funds or investments, then it may pay you to get a financial adviser. They know the pros and cons of specific decisions, what the current legislation is and what changes may be in the offing. Their advice could potentially save you more than you could by trying to manage these finances yourself.

by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.