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When you want to lose weight, often the first thing you think to do is shave a few calories off your daily intake. So why not apply this to your finances? By looking at how you can trim a few expenses here and there, and changing some of your spending habits, you could end up with a significantly healthier looking bank balance. We’ve devised a four-week money makeover plan to get you started…
Week One: Consider your spending habits
- Get an overview of your monthly expenses. Write a list of how much you spend on essential outgoings (eg household bills, food shopping). Then do the same for the non-essentials (make-up, clothes, going out).
- Assess how much you spend on a day-to-day basis. Keep a diary of every single little item you spend money on over the course of a week – even tiny things like a pint of milk. You’ll be surprised by how quickly those ‘small’ purchases add up.
Week Two: Cut back on your essential outgoings
You might think it’s impossible to shave money off expenses that are essential (after all, it’s not like you can live without water or electricity). But there are ways of reducing these outgoings:
Make sure you are getting the best deal on household bills such as electricity using price comparison websites. Switch to whichever provider offers you the best deal.
Check that you are not being overcharged for your mobile phone – you may be paying for add-ons such as free international minutes, which you don’t need (you can download a free voice call app instead). Cancelling these add-ons will save you a small amount of money per month.
You may consider it to be essential, but think about how much you actually watch that streaming service you pay a monthly fee for – if you’re finding that you still haven’t had time to catch up with a must-watch show everyone was talking about last year, it may be time to give it up.
Week Three: Reduce your weekly spending
Create a meal planner so that every week you think about what meals you are going to need to make in the seven days ahead (include packed lunch to take into work). Write a list of everything that you’ll need before heading to the supermarket, and make sure you only buy food that you need to make those specific meals, rather than browsing the aisles and picking up stuff just because it’s on offer. You’ll be surprised how much money you’ll save on your food shopping.
Limit the number of times you go out after work – even if you’re only going out for a quick drink, that money will quickly add up.
Recognise your weaknesses – if you love nothing more than spending your lunch break browsing the sale section of your favourite online store, step away from your computer! You probably don’t need that new top/skirt/bomber jacket. Instead, set yourself a monthly clothes allowance and stick to it.
Week Four: Sort out your debt – and start paying with cash
It’s important to work out whether or not you are living within your means – if you are racking up credit card debts without actually splashing out on big items, it means you are spending more than you earn. Transfer any debts to an interest-free credit card.
Start paying off as much debt as you can. Once you have worked out how much money you have left to spend each month (after you have paid for your essential outgoings), decide on a monthly credit repayment that you can afford, and set up a direct debit from your account so that you automatically make this repayment every month.
Leave your debit card at home. Calculate how much money you have left as spending money per month and divide it by the number of weeks in that month. At the start of the week, withdraw that amount in cash and use it whenever you need to spend money on anything at all. This will make you think twice before buying something!
FSCS has an easy tool that will help you find out how much money you could save now and for your future. It's completely free and will tell you how you could manage your money better in seconds. FSCS are the people who protect your money for free, from £1 up to £85,000 in UK banks and building societies.
Plus, enter the competition below for your chance to win the ultimate makeover and a £500 gift card for your chosen store.