This week’s post kicks off a brand new feature for the blog. Once a month I shall be answering a question that as a fellow busy mum, I know you’re looking to find the answer to. How do I know it’s something you want help with? Because you, the A Simple and Contented Life Community have told me! With a few of you asking me the same questions, I thought it’d be a great idea to share my answers as blog posts so everyone can see them!
Have a question you’d like me to answer? I intend for this to be an ongoing feature, so drop me a line or let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to include it over the coming months. So, are you ready for the first frequently asked question? Let’s dive in! This week’s FAQ is: How do I stay on top of my finances?
How Do I Stay on Top of My Finances?
Keeping track of where our money goes, remembering to pay our bills on time and finding money to save can be hard work. EVERYTHING seems to cost money these days! No sooner have we paid one bill, there’s another waiting to be paid just around the corner. The amount is always much more than we plan for or expect too. And, whenever we feel like we’re finally getting back on track, there’s another unforeseen expense we have to find the money for. It’s SO frustrating! Surely there’s a way to make staying on top of our finances easier?
Now I’m no financial expert and I’ve certainly made my share of money management mistakes in the past – who hasn’t?! But I’ve learnt from them and figured out a few ways to stay on top of my finances as a result. Of course, it doesn’t always go to plan, things crop up and there are months where we spend more than we know we should. But mostly, we manage to stay on track. Here are five things I do – that you can do too, to keep your finances in check.
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1. Know what your expenses are
The number one way to stay on top of your finances? Know what your expenses are! It sounds pretty simple but it’s surprising just how many of us have no idea how much we need to allow for our bills each month. If you don’t know this, how will you know what you have left for everything else? If you want to keep your finances in check you have to know what your monthly outgoings are. Take the time to go through all your direct debits and standing orders. Make a note of when they’re due and how much they cost. Set aside that amount each month BEFORE you spend your money on anything else.
2. Check in on your statements
If you want to stay on top of your finances you also need to review your statements. And not just once a month. Set aside a few minutes each week to check your balance and make sure you’re still on track. Check your credit card statements too and make sure there’s not been any unauthorised activity on your accounts. It’s better to address any issues as soon as they’ve happened instead of three or four months down the line. If you don’t yet use online banking or mobile banking apps consider doing so, it’ll make checking in so much easier.
3. Have a bill contribution fund
Utility bills, insurances, car servicing and MOTs. As well as our usual monthly bills, there are other expenses we should be making allowances for too. Usually on the larger side, these quarterly and annual bills can hit us pretty hard if we haven’t allowed for them. What do all your other expenses add up to? Work it out and divide the total by 12. That’s how much you should ideally be putting away each month in order to pay them.
As well as having a bill contribution fund, if you can, try setting up a small emergency fund too. It doesn’t have to be much each month, but imagine if your boiler suddenly needed replacing, or your washing machine packed up. How would you fund replacing it? The last thing you want is to have to use your credit card, or worse still, take out a loan to get it fixed or replaced. What could you afford each month to put towards an emergency fund?
4. Start saving for Christmas now
Really?! YES! Christmas can be a huge drain on our finances. Even if you limit what you spend on each person to £20 or £30, with 10 or more people to buy for that’s upwards of £300! And that’s without food, any Christmas-related activities or travelling to see friends and family. Why start next year with a huge bill if you can start saving now? Just £25 a month would give you £300 come December. It’s a no-brainer!
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5. Be on the same page as your spouse
Finally, if you want to stay on top of your finances you and your spouse need to be singing from the hymn sheet. If you have big joint expenses such as a mortgage or loans, you HAVE to work together. If one is spending while the other is trying to save, it’s not going to work. Broaching the subject isn’t always easy, but try to be on the same page as your spouse. Make time to talk about your finances. Check in on your statements and make a plan on how you’ll manage your money together.
How do I stay on top of my finances?
These five steps won’t solve all your money worries, but they’re a great place to start. Remember, the key is to tell your money what to do and where to go. So don’t be afraid of checking in. Just like Dave Ramsay says:
“Winning at money is 80% behaviour and 20% knowledge. Most of us know what to do, we just don’t do it.”
Getting on top of our finances is a work in progress. It’s not going to happen overnight. But adopt some of these practices and over the course of the coming months staying on top of your finances will become a whole lot easier. Here they are again:
- Know what your expenses are.
- Check in on your statements.
- Have a bill contribution fund (and emergency fund).
- Start saving for Christmas now.
- Be on the same page as your spouse.
That’s it for this post and my first FAQ! If you like what you’ve read, be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post! Kick-start creating a family life you love right now by filling in your details below and snag your copy of my Busy Mum’s Master Plan at the same time!
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What would you add? How do you stay on top of your finances each month? Let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget too to let me know if you have an FAQ you’d like me to answer!
Until next time…