Money management: Five ways technology can help you get your money under control
At Muckle, we believe that everyone is going to have to take more personal control of their finances as self-reliance and money management inevitably replaces state provision. Our guiding principle – ‘mony a mickle maks a muckle’ perfectly defines a long term savings or investment strategy, but it is not just about wealth creation, saving money and shopping around for the best deals also have a major part to play.
If millennials are notable for being ‘tech-savvy’, members of Generation Z are often described as tech native and therefore ideally placed to take full advantage of the growing number of websites and apps designed to help them budget, track and manage every aspect of their financial lives.
Here are five easy ways that technology can help you manage and save money.
Create a budget and organise your finances
A good first step in money management is to take a long hard look at your finances and use a budgeting app to create a realistic budget that you can stick to.
Budgeting apps are a simple and convenient way to keep on top of your spending; most are simple to use, and easily accessed from your phone.
Homebudget with Sync is a great option and includes the ability to get the whole family involved with its Family Sync feature which allows a group of devices share information so everyone can work together within a single budget. You can see who’s letting the side down and a good incentive to stick within your means.
Goodbudget is another which lets you create accounts e.g. ‘Household bills’, and you can see at a glance how your funds are doing. It helps you plan before you spend and reports afterwards where your money went.
Alternatively, you could download a budget template; Citizens Advice has a preset budget template to print off and fill in; Vertex42 also provides free templates, compatible with Microsoft Excel, OpenOffice or Google Sheets.
The new breed of smart money-saving apps make saving simpler by connecting to your current account and watching your online spending and balance – some even make automatic savings for you, so you don’t have to do a thing; hands free money management.
Chip, Cleo and Plum are three examples; each works out how much you can afford to save every few days and, subject to your approval, transfer this to your savings account. They also suggest ways that you can cut back on your spending.
Monitor your spending
It is a good discipline to give your finances an annual health check just to make sure things are on track; ‘best buys’ come and go, and that deal you were dangled to get you to sign on the dotted may have expired, leaving you on the ‘standard tariff’
Look at your regular outgoings and see where you could cut back; there’s every chance you’re paying too much for something, and remember, ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’.
For many of us, bills are some of our biggest outgoings, but it’s never been easier to switch energy supplier – just a few minutes on a price comparison site like uSwitch or Compare The Market could save you hundreds of pounds a year.
Smart technology has even made it to the world of thermostats; a smart heating system can now work out the most efficient way of heating your home, thereby potentially saving you hundreds of pounds over the course of a year.
The Nest Learning Thermostat learns your routine and doesn’t heat your house when you’re out; similarly the Hive Active Heating thermostat detects when the temperature falls and kicks in to stopping your pipes freezing, thereby avoiding costly repairs.
Muckle is not just about saving, or making money, it is also about eliminating waste; unwanted food is not only wasteful, but it is bad for the environment. Cue Too Good To Go, which not only saves money on your food shop, but also does the planet some good at the same time.
The app connects you with nearby restaurants and shops that have leftover food; perfectly edible, but otherwise destined to go to waste. Sign up, place your order and you’ll get your meal at a heavily discounted price; sure to make it taste all the better.
Karma has a large selection of London restaurants on board, from Michelin-starred chefs to high street fare; Olio is similar, but it connects you with neighbours as well as retailers, so that you can share surplus food among members of your community.
Shop around – the web; deals websites can help you find the best bargains in all sorts of categories, like food shopping, fashion and more.
MySupermarket monitors the deals from 15 top supermarkets, including Tesco, Aldi, Asda, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s to see which has the best deals; Groupon has good deals on leisure activities like restaurants, fitness and days out and Hot UK Deals is similar.
Whether you’re shopping for clothes, toys or anything else, you should be able to buy it online; by shopping around, you can often get it cheaper than the standard price.
Auction sites like eBay have plenty to offer spanning all kinds of categories with many independent retailers selling through it.
Amazon Marketplace is another good bet, selling both new and second-hand items, with a more diverse range thanks to the thousands of retailers who sell through it.
Manage your investments and pensions
Money management is also about providing for later life – we are all going to have to get to grips with our pensions, and investments, and the good news is that there are plenty of micro-investing apps and automated investment platforms out there to assist – as a younger investor you have time on your side and are ideally placed to take advantage of Einstein’s ‘eighth wonder of the world’ – compound interest.
It can be a headache keeping track of your pension, as well as how much you’ve invested and where, but , you could miss out on some of your own hard-earned cash.
The good news is that there are a whole range of automated investment platforms – robo advisors – as well as micro-investing and money management apps that allow you to be as hands-on or as hands free with your money as you choose.
An example is Moneyfarm which lets you set up an account and start investing in minutes; – just set up an account and you’re good to go. There is a minimum investment of £500, although for a fully diversified portfolio you should aim for £2500.
Personal Capital Finance is a website for tracking your investments; it shows you all your accounts in one place and compare them against major market benchmarks in pursuit of your investment goals.
PensionBee is an app that lets you combine all your different pensions into one place – handy as it is estimated that on average that people will now have eleven jobs over a working life.
The government will also launch a Pensions Dashboard sometime in 2019 which will let you see all your pension savings in one place, so look out for it.
Learn how to manage your money
There have been a number of recent initiatives to improve basic financial literacy in schools, but it is never to learn about money management.
There are plenty of online courses about money management and your general finances; the Open University offers a free course called Managing My Money which will help you manage a budget, debts, investments, property purchases, pensions and insurance.
Udemy also offers a range of online courses, including budgeting and good financial habits to get into.
Alternatively, those that are less tech-savvy could attend a course; Learn Direct offers a wide range of courses, or you could try your local library or Citizens Advice Bureau to see what they recommend.
We’ve probably all had a letter we’ve been dreading and stuck it under a clock for ‘Ron’*; however, things financial rarely improve without some affirmative action – particularly if you are incurring fees, or charges.
The good news is that there is technical assistance for you on every part of your financial journey that put you in control.
On the road to financial independence, as we say, Do it Yourself, Do it With me, Do it For me – just don’t do nothing!
* (late)’r on
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