It's Day Seven of Sky's the Limit - we've reached the end!
After the last seven days, you should be on your way to managing your debt well and making steps to reach financial recovery. We're hoping getting out of debt gives you a great blank slate to help you build your future finances.
Now that we've got to the end of the week together, its a great opportunity to highlight good practices and make sure you make sensible decisions about money.
Here's our seven point checklist to help you make sure that every day from now on is a good money day.
1. Start with a budget
As we discussed on Day Three, the best place to start is with a budget. Work out how much money comes in each month and from there, we can work out how much you actually need to set aside.
Cabot tip: If possible, move the day your bills go out so the money comes out right after payday. By doing this, we're hoping you won't accidentally spend money you'll need later in the month.
If you haven't already done it yet, make sure you check out Cabot's Budget Planner to figure out what your monthly budget looks like.
Cabot Financial states that disposable income is the amount of money that you and your family have available for spending and saving after direct taxes (such as Income Tax, National Insurance and Council Tax) and all outgoings have been deducted. It includes earnings from employment, private pensions and investments as well as cash benefits provided by the government.
2. Be sensible about disposable income...
Once you've worked out your regular outgoings, you'll know how much disposable income you've got each month. You'll need some of it for day-to-day expenses but it's important to have savings too. Savings can help if you have an emergency – for example if your boiler gives up, or, in the worst case scenario, redundancy.
Try to move some savings to a different account right after payday if you are able to, otherwise it's too tempting to splurge.
3. ...But remember to sometimes cut yourself some slack
Savings and financial planning is important, but you also need to be realistic. If you have set goals that are too harsh, there is a higher chance you might fall out of the financial balloon.
4. Be smart about different kinds of debt
Make sure that every time you choose to take on debt, you've thought carefully about whether that's the right decision.
For non-essentials, such as holidays, the latest tech, or nights out, try to save in advance. But for bigger things that are an investment in your financial future, using credit wisely may be a good option. You can use the budget you've created to think through every big purchase and what the right way to pay for it would be.
5. Compare financial products
If you do decide to take on debt, research thoroughly to find the best product for you. Look at interest rates and repayment terms, and make sure you really are borrowing as cheaply as possible.
That goes for other financial products too. Make sure you're not overpaying on utilities such as energy or broadband, switching can save you hundreds of pounds each year. Remember to use the checklist we gave you on Day 1 to help you make the right decision for you.
6. Learn to economise (without noticing the difference)
The less you spend day-to-day the more you'll have to save or for an indulgence.
Check out our list of financial influencers for their best hacks (using day five's list) and see how much you can save.
Usually you'll be able to economise without it affecting your day-to-day life. Here are some ideas to get you going:
- Try switching some of your grocery staples to cheaper alternatives. You'll probably find you don't notice much of a difference and if you do, you can always switch back.
- Start small and build up to bigger goals - completely taking out coffee shop visits or never going to the pub are likely to be unrealistic. Instead, consider dropping to just one coffee or pint a week and putting the equivalent cash into savings. You probably won't notice the difference, but the savings will soon add up.
7. Protect against the future
We understand this can be difficult but building up your savings so you have at least three - six months' salary set aside will make sure you're protected against all sorts of income shocks [link to income shock article] such as sickness and redundancy. It will also give you a buffer to deal with unexpected expenses like car repairs or needing to fix the roof.
Having savings means that you can have more financial freedom. You will also have that nugget of knowledge knowing that if an unexpected bill appears, you'll be okay.
And that's it for our Sky's the Limit series. We have given you some tools to help you take control of your finances and, most importantly, stay in control.
We are always here to help whether that be on email, a quick webchat or on the phone. Last but not least, good luck!
Fact of the day:
Did you know around 9.79m households (36%) have no savings, while a further 3.54m (13%) have under £1,500?
We're hoping, after the last seven days, we can find a way to save more for our future.