Here are nine simple tips on how you can take a closer look at what you're spending as a family.
1. Create a budget and try to stick to it
The best financial planning begins with a piece of paper and a pen. Work out your family incomings alongside your outgoings and you'll soon spot easy wins for saving cash such as cutting down on takeaways or shopping trips for a single item.
If you’re looking to track your finances more closely, you could use an app such as Good Budget
. These will instantly show you how much money is spare so you don't overstretch yourself.
2. Clear loans or credit cards with savings
If you're just clearing the minimum payment on loans and credit cards despite having cash in the bank, then it’s worth doing the maths to work out what’s actually doing more for you. Your savings could be earning little or no interest, while your payments are costing you money in interest.
While it's good to keep a nest egg for an emergency, in this scenario you're paying for the privilege of doing so – money that would be better spent elsewhere.
3. Order your credit report
Whether you want to take out new lines of credit or not, it pays to stay on top of your personal financial data.
Ratings agencies like Experian
let you check your credit online for a subscription, but it's simple and cheap to order a £2 Statutory Credit Report
for an at-a-glance overview. Alternatively, you could sign up to Noddle
for free to get an instant peek at your credit score.
4. Review your insurance cover
Being underinsured or overinsured will cost you money either way. Whether it's life insurance
, policies for your home, car, medical bills, travel or just a backup in case products break down, put a date marker in your diary two weeks before the renewal.
You’ll then have enough time to shop around and ensure you get the best possible quote for your specific needs.
5. Don't forget about your pension pot
For many people, retirement feels a long way off, but with UK life expectancy the highest it has ever been, it pays to think ahead. Many people have chosen to pay off their mortgage with spare cash rather than invest in a pension. But for many owning a home is still a dream.
Whether you're a cash-strapped millennial or nearing the end of your working life, you need to keep a constant eye on how much your pension is going to pay out and whether it needs topping up. This is especially important with today's stock market fluctuations and the latest changes to the State Pension age
Still haven’t sorted out your pension? Read our things to consider guide for tips and an explanation of the key retirement choices.
6. Check your Council Tax band
Some homes are in the wrong Council Tax band as houses in England and Scotland were put into valuation bands in the early 1990s, bands that don’t accurately reflect what the house is worth today.
You can check what band your property fits into on the government’s website
and, if you feel the band is incorrect, challenge it as well.
7. Use the internet wisely to save big
Comparison sites online are one quick way to save money but consider using voucher code websites or buying online through the likes of Quidco
where you can get cashback on purchases from loads of top brands and stores, so you could soon see the savings mount up.
Also, don't forget to empty your browser's history and cache when shopping for the best deals. Some sites remember if you've already looked at a product and won't give you the best price, presuming you want the goods too much already – a tactic common among airlines and holiday websites.
8. Get your children involved in saving
Teaching kids the value of money
can instil the financial skills they’ll need as an adult and even stop them from wanting you to spend so much. Set up jars around the home for them to put coins into instead of buying sweets or toys.
Visually seeing it mount up encourages them to save and skip impulse buys. You could even write a monetary goal on the jar to incentivise them further – either the amount to reach or what will be bought, whether it’s a computer game or a new bike.
9. Don't ignore your financial problems
Many people struggle financially, so recognising the signs is a key step to coping with your outgoings.
If you're concerned that your financial outgoings are exceeding your incomings, then contact a body such as the National Debtline
or the Money Advice Service
for guidance. It may be hard to talk about initially but taking that first step will save you far more than money in the long run.
These tips are just a few simple ways to spring clean your finances and there's no time like the present to start. Keep a list of what you save each day and you'll soon be encouraged to save harder and faster as the amount grows.