Following a very wintery start to the year, March is in full swing. We are waking up to daylight, the days are getting a little longer and flowers are starting to sprout.
Spring cleaning is a long-standing tradition. It is a time to clear away the clutter and reset ahead of the long summer months. Leaving no household stone unturned, we clear all the way to the back of the long-neglected kitchen cupboards, organise the bulging bedroom drawers and scrub the bathroom down to the grouting. With so much focus going into the home, people often forget other elements of their life that could benefit from a spring clean – including their personal finances.
Shane Clifford - Co-Founder and CEO of new bill management app, WonderBill - is on hand to share his top five ways to effectively give your personal finances the freshen-up they deserve.
Get to the bottom of it
Spring is the perfect time to dig all the way to the bottom of your personal finance history. Make sure there are no forgotten payments or ignored debt, as these will only get worse if left to fester for another season. Step one - and the hardest part - is to face up to it, then put a plan in place to get it sorted. This doesn’t need to be instant, but a step-by-step, achievable monthly goal is key.
Transform your emotions
You may, like many others, feel stressed or worried when it comes to managing finances. WonderBill research found that 78% of people experience negative emotions when managing their bills, with stress, frustration, annoyance, boredom and worry the top emotions that consumers felt most frequently when handling household bills. One way to tackle these negative emotions is to empower yourself with the tools you need to make you feel satisfied and calm – this can be something as simple as downloading a free personal finance app on your mobile to utilising apps for meditation and mental wellbeing.
Notice your habits
It is never nice to find yourself scrimping at the end of the month, emptying your freezer and food cupboards, praying payday comes around quickly. You may be stuck in an expensive routine that is draining your funds or your ability to save. Purchases like that daily Pret lunch, morning Starbucks habit or regular takeaway dinner soon add up. Keep a money diary for one month to see where your pay-packet is going, once you see your repetitive and expensive habits clearly written in front of you it will be much easier to prioritise where you want to spend money, where you can save and set budgets.
Go card cold-turkey
If month by month you are constantly overspending, try giving up your debit and credit cards for a cash only diet. It is very easy to spend more than you originally intended when you have your bank card handy, particularly now with contactless and apple pay. The best way to make sure you only spend what you set out to, only take that specific amount of cash with you. This could be a budget for an evening out with friends, a holiday away or even just for your normal every day expenses. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save by adopting this technique.
Set financial goals
It can be tough to feel motivated about saving money when there is always something you could spend money on in the here and now. The best way to feel inspired to save is to set goals. Do you want to jet-set off overseas? How about decorate your bedroom, or treat your children during the school holidays. Put up visual reminders around the home to keep you on track, whether that is a pin board in the kitchen to Pinterest online. These goals will give you the motivation you need to stick to your savings.
They say ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ and the same certainly applies to money. Applying some of that spring cleaning spirit to your personal finances can pay-off and by the time Christmas rolls around you could see a real difference to your funds, as well as your mental wellbeing.