Money Basics: Spring clean your finances
Hi, I’m Christian Leeming from DIY Investor
Spring is in the air. Here are some simple tips to perk up your finances.
Start with a budget
As the cost of living continues to rise, start with your own Spring Budget.
Take a fresh look at what’s coming and going and see where you might make savings.
You may find direct debits or standing orders that you no longer use and be able to reduce your outgoings.
But don’t make it all stick. Set yourself budgets for the things you enjoy in life too – whether that’s dining out, clothes or holidays – to help you stay motivated.
Budgeting could help you avoid any nasty surprises and identify any potential surplus should things get even tougher.
Keep calm and carry on saving
Regardless of where you are in your life journey, regular saving and investing is key to being able to live the life you want to in the future.
Even if you aren’t saving with a specific purpose in mind, having a nest egg is never a bad thing.
Putting a little extra away each month can soon stack up, and a Stocks and Shares ISA will protect your pot from that chap at No 11 Downing Street.
Future-proof your finances
Paying down debt and building a rainy-day fund are key to financial security, and to your peace of mind.
Put together a plan to clear your liabilities and then build a fund of between 3 to 12 months expenditure to give yourself some breathing space in the event of an emergency.
Think about protecting yourself and your loved ones in the future with life insurance or income protection.
The UK has low levels of protection compared to other major economies, but it could help you survive any nasty shocks, such as being unable to work due to accident, or sickness.
Buff up your credit score
To improve your credit score, make sure you meet your monthly commitments on debt or payment plans such as mortgage payments, credit cards, or phone contracts.
Pay off your credit card monthly and keep usage low as a percentage of your available credit.
Make sure your personal audit history is clear and that everything is registered to the address at which you are registered for electoral purposes.
Identify what debt you have, what rate of interest you are paying, and when it will become due.
Then pay down those with the highest interest rates, or late payment penalties
Always pay down debt before you start investing if the interest rate is higher than the expected return on your savings.
Consider consolidating your debt. A single loan at possibly a lower interest rate makes your target of repaying clearer.
Finally, don’t be afraid to seek help – there is government assistance available to help those in debt work their way out.