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I am sorry to tell you but when it comes to managing your money, there is no one-size-fits-all silver-bullet solution.
It is all part of adulting; learning how to handle your money, stay out of debt, have fun now but save for the future, live below your means whilst attracting and making more money and live you best life.
Sounds overwhelming right?
But it does not need to be.
If you are just starting out on your journey to financial freedom, and have no clue where to start, I have put together my top 10 tips on personal finance to help you get closer to becoming and remaining financially free!
Tip no. 1. Do a full money assessment
This tip applies to life in general, and is a must if you are going through a time of uncertainty or if something big has recently changed within your life.
First of all, you have to get super honest with yourself. No hiding, pretending your credit card doesn’t exist or not checking your bank account. A result of burying your head in the sand is an increase in stress – let’s avoid that!
Take stock of your current financial situation in full and ask yourself the following questions:
- What money is in my bank right now?
- What money do I have coming in? (Income, refunds, tax rebates, money I am owed etc.)
- Do I have any savings? (Is that money easily accessible or locked away?)
- Do I have an emergency fund? (If so, how much?)
- Do I have any debt? (How much? Is it good or bad debt?)
- What bills do I have to pay? (How much is each expense and what dates are they due?)
I recommend doing this on a regular basis (every 6-12 months) to make sure you always understand where you are at with your finances (especially if you are paying down debt or taken on more expenses).
Once you have completed the full money assessment – you can write the answers down in a notepad, or you can do it into a spreadsheet – do not beat yourself up about your situation.
If you are in debt, know that you are not alone (the average UK household has £2,595 worth of credit card debt). The best thing you can do is create a plan to clear down that debt and gain control of your finances. A negative attitude towards the debt will only keep you stuck.
If you do not have an emergency fund, try not to be angry at yourself. No one can see into the future and you cannot go back in time. The best thing you do can is create a plan to build up an emergency fund, so next time you potentially find yourself in a position where you need an financial security blanket, you have that ready to fall back on.
Do not attach negative emotions towards your financial situation. Instead, use this to propel you and motivate to create new money habits, starting today!
Tip no. 2. Spend time working on your money mindset
How you choose to talk about money is very important. A negative mindset holds you back and keeps you stuck.
Every time you say or think “I am bad with money“, you re-enforce that idea in your every day life. You will subconsciously use this as an excuse every time something goes wrong e.g. you don’t save, you forget to budget, you overspend etc. you will put it down to the fact you think you are “bad at money” keeping you stuck. It is a vicious cycle. A self-fulfilling prophecy.
There are 100’s of different ways a negative money mindset can manifest in your life.
Read this blog on ‘How to tell if you have a bad money mindset’ to learn whether you have a negative money mindset. Spend time answering those questions, and getting to know what money mindset you currently have.
Take comfort in knowing that if you do have a mindset that is keeping you stuck, your current mindset can be changed. It is not a permanent state of mind, because you are in control of your thoughts and you can change them to benefit you. Read this blog on ‘How to change your negative money mindset‘ to help undo bad thought habits.
Tip no. 3. Find a budgeting method that works for you
Budging is a useful money tool to help you achieve your financial goals and become financially free. Unfortunately it has negative connotations attached to it because people relate it with being strict, or cutting back and it all seems too restrictive.
This is absolutely not the case!
You are not ‘being budget‘, you are simply creating a budget.
I have a series of blogs & videos dedicated to budgeting to help you gain an understanding of why budgeting is important, and how it can help you:
- An introduction to budgeting
- Why is a budget important
- Top 3 budgeting rules to keep you out of debt
- Forecasting & Tracking
- Bad beliefs around budgeting
When it comes to being financially free, learning how to budget is about knowing what is coming in vs. what is going out to ensure you live within your means.
If you try to budget in a way that does not suit your needs, you simply wont stick to it.
Luckily, there are many different budgeting methods out there. Some examples:
- 50-20-30 rule
- The zero based budget
- The envelope system
Make sure you find one that works for you (this might even change of time and that is okay!)
Tip no. 4. Always have a set of clear financial goals to work towards
Whether you are looking to get out of debt, saving to go travelling, wanting to get on the property ladder or maybe aiming to start a new business, setting goals with monetary value and an achievable timescale is going to keep you motivated.
I like to break them down into 4 different chunks:
- Today’s Goals (1-2 years)
- Money needed for the immediate future
- e.g. your emergency fund, and the money you want to spend going on nice holidays
- Short Term Goals (2-5 years)
- e.g. travelling plans, money needed to set up a business
- Medium Term Goals (5-10 years)
- e.g. buying a house, getting married, having children
- Long Term Goals (10+ years)
- e.g. retirement plan
- Always have a set of clear financial goals you are working towards
- Getting out of debt, saving for a holiday a house etc.
- Break it down into:
- today’s goals (money for 1-2 years) – emergency fund and holidays
- Short term (2-5 years) – buying a home?
- Medium term (5-10 years) – marriage, kids?
- Long term (10+ years) – retirement?
Spend time creating a list of goals, how much money you would like to put towards each goal (or how much you think you will need to achieve said goal) and when you need the money by.
Give your goals monetary amounts, and timelines so you know how to break it down into monthly chunks of savings
This will help you understand what cash you need to make sure you have readily available (money saved into a Cash ISA or a Regular Savings account) and what cash you can start to invest (money saved into a pension or invested into Stocks & shares etc.)
It helps you stay on track and keeps you motivated as you see the progress you make each month.
Tip no. 5. Build an emergency fund
This money is separate to your savings. It falls into the ‘Today’s Goals (1-2 years)’ but the money itself is for EMERGENCIES ONLY.
Ideally you will have 6 months’ worth of living expenses saved up as an emergency fund.:
- Work out 1 months worth of basic needs to survive: rent, food, bills etc.
- Multiply this by 6
- This total amount should be what you aim for to have saved
It can seem like a lot of money to start off, and it might take you a few years to save it all, but it gives you a goal on where to start.
Don’t think about reaching the top of the staircase; think about the one step in front of you.
The emergency fund is there as your safety blanket in case an emergency happens e.g. you lose your job, you get sick, you have to care for a family member, there is another pandemic etc.
Having an emergency fund will help you sleep better at night knowing that is disaster struck, you would be able to financially support yourself.
Tip no. 6. Have two separate bank accounts
What do you need two for?
- One for your bills
- One for your spending
Having two accounts is how I managed to save £15,000 in 3 years when I was 19 by having two separate bank accounts.
It removes the worry of ‘”Oh when does this bill come out? Have I spent my rent money? Do I have enough to buy this coffee?”
Whichever budgeting method you choose to use, you would clearly see how much money you need for bills (this money stays in your bill account) then how much money you have that month to spend (this money is moved into your spending account). A nice and simple way of splitting the two out to help you avoid overspending or spending your bill money!
Tip no. 7. Cultivate good savings habits
By learning good saving habits, saving your money each month does not become a chore… it comes naturally. Therefore making saving enjoyable and you are more likely to hit your financial goals!
Pay yourself first – On payday move money into your bills account and into your savings account straight away. Spend what is left over… not the other way round. If you try to save what is leftover after spending, we all know that that amount will most likely be £0.
Treat yoself – people always think that to ‘enjoy’ their money they should be spending it, they say “Oh i have worked hard this month, I should treat myself by buying XYZ”. Try to change this habit, and actually view it as ‘treating yourself’ when you move money into your savings account.
Money in savings is not yours to touch – When that money is moved into your savings account, imagine that it is not yours to touch. You are far better putting away £50 a month and not touching it, than putting away £200 but running out of money and taking £150 back out again. Every time you dip into your savings, you teach your brain that you do not value your financial goals so now is the time to break that habit.
Tip no. 8. Practice mindful spending
Being grateful for what you have is a well-known method for bringing more joy and happiness into your life. This can be applied to spending too.
Spend time going through the items you have in your home and ask yourself:
- Does this item bring me joy?
- Did I need this item or was this an impulse buy?
- Was this worth the money to me? (this will be different for everyone)
- Did these purchases align with my financial goals or did they take me further away?
Ask yourself questions before you make a purchase – whether it feels like a sudden desire to buy a new bag, or you are mulling over a purchase of an item you have wanted for ages, make sure you do a little self-assessment before spending. Ask yourself the above questions and it should help you avoid overspending, or making purchases that take you away from your goals.
Be aware of your spending triggers – don’t set yourself up for failure. If you learn that you are more likely to impulse buy when you are bored and scrolling through ASOS, then delete the ASOS app and find alternative ways to spend your time when you are bored instead of window online shopping.
Know what is ‘worth it’ to you – We all like to spend our money in different ways and have different ‘money priorities’. Read my blog here on ‘How to know if you are wasting money’. You might be happy to spend £100 on clothes, but not food, whereas your friend may be the complete opposite. Neither is right or wrong, just simply work this into your budget.
Learn how to spend without feeling guilty – Be careful not to go so far the other way with your spending that you feel guilty every time you make any purchases, even ones that benefit you or those that are a good investment. Read my blog here on ‘How to spend your money without feeling guilty’.
When you start to practice mindful spending, you will feel more fulfilled and more in control of your finances.
Tip no. 9. Do not think that investing is just for men or the rich
How wealthy you are is not based on how much you make, its based on how much money you keep and can therefore invest ~ Emilie Billet (VestPod)
The word ‘invest’ can feel scary.
The language used can be confusing and over complicated.
Investing adverts are full of rich looking men in suits.
All of this pushes people away, especially women or those who don’t know anyone else who has successfully invested…
Let me tell you – investing is for EVERYONE and ANYONE!
The success of investing does not discriminate against age, gender, wealth.
Women live longer than men, but yet they usually have a smaller pension pot to retire on thanks to the gender pay gap, exclusion of women in the investing space and the cost of becoming a mother.
Remember that knowledge is power and there is an unlimited resource of education online (YouTube, books, podcasts, articles) to help you learn and gain confidence in investing (in yourself, in property, in Stocks and shares). Start small and start no because the sooner you start, the more you will benefit.
Tip no. 10. Do not be afraid to ask for help
It is very easy to feel ashamed of your current financial position, especially if you are in debt, and consequently, staying in silence when you need help will only weigh you down heavier.
- Ask friends and family for support (be it emotionally or financially)
- Join online money communities (if you are on a debt free journey, this really can help you to stay motivated)
- Hire a Money Coach because we can help you with all elements of financial freedom – budgeting, saving, mindset, setting goals, investing, spending habits – the lot
- Consider a Financial Advisor (while they can recommend products specifically, they are more costly than money coaches).
You could read books, listen to podcasts, do online courses, work with a Money Coach but the one element that remains the same throughout all of these things is that you are the one that has to put in the work and implement the tools and methods and habits into your life. no one else will do it for you.
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