Money Life Coach, Fanny Snaith, joins us again to explain how to create a budget so you can take back control of your finances to not only look after your financial well being now, but plan for the future.
Managing your money solo after divorce or separation can seem daunting, especially if you have not been the money manager in your household before. But it also has advantages which if approached with courage and curiosity can make your financial future brighter and more exciting than you first think.
I love talking about our money lives as a financial adventure. Yes sure, I see winces from some when I first mention it but when we muster up the two Cs – curiosity and courage, we can get off to a flying start.
Here are some tips for managing your money flying solo.
Sign up to Money Dashboard
Money Dashboard is a free app that puts all your card transactions in one place. You know that at some point you’re going to have to work out where your money goes – Money Dashboard is by far the easiest and quickest way to do it.
When you sign up, depending on who your currently bank with, it usually pulls in a whole year’s transactions giving you useful information about your spending habits and financial situation.
Your next task is to tag the transactions into the categories they provide. For example, you can tag Sainsbury’s as ‘Groceries’. The beauty of tagging is that Money Dashboard remembers your tags, so when you tag once it will automatically tag all the other transactions going back the full year. You can create your own categories too but keep it as simple as you can at first. Amazing!
Create a Money Map
Ok, so you may have heard it called a budget, but that’s a boring word so let’s use Money Map instead.
A Money Map is where you map out all your available income, making sure you include everything. Savings, investments, debts, Christmas, annual car service the more detail you include, the more accurate and helpful it will be.
By creating a Money Map, you are giving every pound a purpose. After all, money is a precious resource, so we are right to want to look after it well.
If you use the categories and associated information that Money Dashboard provides – eg: personal care, bills, food, and drink – you can use this to build the map.
It does take some work and a bit of time but with curiosity and courage it can be created in a few hours and will help you to get you to your next financial goal or destination.
Using your money compass
A map is not much use without a compass right? Well, let’s turn to Money Dashboard again as every transaction you make (via card) will appear there.
Tagging your transactions will become second nature and so will reconciling the Money Map using the info from Money Dashboard at the end of the month.
Your Money Map is the plan – so we need to make sure we stay on track or rework the route to achieve yours goals.
Watch your bills
Or, as I like to refer to it, snip and trim. We’ve all become more accustomed to reducing our energy usage and bills lately, but it does work. Turn lights off, put less water in the kettle, opt for less expensive cooking methods, cut down on your heating and reduce food waste.
While the savings may be small, each time you do these you save a little more money. You won’t become a millionaire from cutting back, but you will feel empowered that you you’re using all the tools at your disposal and maximising your efficiency.
Use or lose subscriptions
Cancelling subscriptions is the biggest thing people I work with neglect to do.
Watch out for 7-day trials that then drain your card of a year’s membership. Apps are great at this. Visit your Google Play Subscription page, or equivalent, and see what’s happening there. Make a list of all your subscriptions and ask yourself if you need them, use them, or still value them.
Again, while saving you money you’ll also benefit from knowing that you are being efficient with your resources.
Have a 3-6month buffer
If possible, having a buffer of money tucked away is always a good idea.
With interest rates rising, it’s a good time to put some money aside regularly so you know there will be money there to lean on if unexpected costs or a reduction in income arise.
It’s never too late to start building your Peace of Mind fund – some call it an emergency fund but I prefer to focus on peace rather than emergencies. Even if you can only put a small sum aside each month, you’ve got to start somewhere. Create the habit now and start building your future financial buffer.
Save for Sometimes Spends
Putting money away for things that don’t come up every month is one of the wisest things you can do. Predictable expenses, or Sometimes Spends as I like to call them, include Christmas, birthdays, holidays, opticians costs, dentist fees etc. Expenses that are often forgotten about.
Start by working out how much money you spend on each of them per year, divide by 12 so you can calculate how much to save monthly, and then pop that money into a separate bank account, saving space or pot.
By preparing for these costs throughout the year, it means you can avoid dipping into savings or going into debt when the time comes to pay for them, helping you to live your financial life on the front foot.
Think about where you bank
While I can’t offer formal financial advice, I can share that I use the challenger banks, smaller more recently formed banks, Starling and Monzo.
Why? Because they both offer spaces or pots which are brilliant for separating some of your cash out for Sometimes Spends like Christmas and holidays.
I have my account arranged so that all my bills go out from one pot, I have other pots for my Sometimes Spends, then I leave what I call my Everyday Spending money in the main current area. So clever and so helpful for any financial adventure.
Claim benefits and discounts you are entitled to
You may now be entitled to Child Benefit, or a 25% discount on your council tax if you live alone. Check it out – so you don’t leave money on the table when you’re rightfully eligible for it.
You can see what you might be entitled to here – https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators
You might also like to try cashback sites like Quidco and Topcashback. I love them now that I am used to using them. With a bit of help from a Chrome extension you will be informed when a shop has a deal with the cashback site and you can then take advantage of it.
It is best not to rely on them and do check the detail in full. It’s best to use them as a benefit when you’ve made a decision, rather than a reason to buy things.
Continue to be curious and courageous
Nobody said that your financial adventure was going to be easy. Approach your journey with curiosity and courage and be prepared to learn what you don’t know so that you can build on your financial wellbeing.
By being alert to all the tools available and taking steps to take control of your finances, you can dismiss previous misconceptions about yourself that made you believe you weren’t good with money.
Identifying our money personality traits revolutionises our relationship with money and allows us to transform our money mindset. Take the Money Type Quiz to see what money personality you are: www.fannysnaith.com/take-money-type-quiz
Get in touch
Fanny Snaith is a UK-based Certified Money Coach (CMC) working with individuals and couples.
You can learn more from Fanny Snaith on her online Money Mapping System Course, designed to share all the tools you need to manage your money and financial adventure for life. Email [email protected] with the code STOWE and Fanny will give you a 20% discount making the price just £70 rather than £88.