Ever since I was a kid, I was taught about the importance of saving and the value of money.
When I was 8-years-old, I went to Disney World. However, for the 12 months leading up to it, my dad promised me that if I saved £100 to spend, he’d double it. I kept my pocket money, did extra chores and anything else a child can do to earn cash.
My uncle gave me the last £20 I needed and sure enough, I had plenty of bucks to spend on overpriced souvenirs. You might think this made me an expert at saving – it didn’t.
Money has always been a taboo subject to discuss, but in an effort to open a conversation and help, here are some money mistakes we all make – and how to be better in the future.
1. Not opening a separate savings account
People find it insane when they find out how many bank accounts I have. Some think the idea of having more than one is weird.
Keeping everything in one account is suicidal. Yes, you’ll tell yourself that you’re capable of separating your spending money, bills and savings – but you’re not.
Opening up one or two savings accounts helps you visually see your finances grow. Having a savings account for your long-term goals and for ‘fun stuff’ is the best way to do it in my opinion. So instead of spending your house deposit on festival tickets, you can save for both without sacrificing either.
Or, if you have a Monzo account, you can use Pots to save some money away for gigs or a holiday.
2. Saving at the end of the month
Too many people have told me that they save whatever’s left in the bank at the end of the month. This is a sure-fire way to end up with £0 to your name.
You need to create a budget and save at least 5% of your wages. Everyone is in a different financial situation, but keeping funds aside for emergencies is never a bad idea.
There’s nothing wrong with putting whatever is left the day before you get paid into your savings account, in fact, that’s an awesome idea. But, you need to do it at the start of the month (or whenever payday is) if you want to ensure financial security.
3. Saving too much money
On the flip side, have you ever saved at the beginning of the month and then a week later, you’re transferring the money back to your current account? Have you also done this every single month? Yeah, me too.
If you can’t live on your assigned budget, you’re either spending or saving too much. Both need to be assessed because those morning trips to Costa might be throwing your spending out of whack.
Bye-bye vanilla iced lattes, I’ll see you on Fridays.
However, there’s absolutely no point in putting away 10% of your wages if you’re only going to end up with 1% left. Be honest with yourself and if you can’t afford to be saving so much – stop.
Consistently putting £10 away is better than constantly dipping into your savings every other day.
4. Not looking at your accounts
Do. Not. Bury. Your. Head. In. The. Sand. EVER.
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to your finances. We have the technology to check our bank accounts at any hour with just the scan of a fingerprint.
I recommend checking your account daily. Not only will this help you avoid spending all your money before payday, but it can also help you to detect fraud.
It’s not fun seeing your balance in the negative, but it’s something you have to confront if you’re ever going to get into the positive.
5. Living off your credit card/overdraft
Your overdraft and credit card limit is not your money. It’s the bank’s money, and they’ll get it back eventually.
Using your credit card occasionally (to build up your credit or insure your purchases) and dipping into your overdraft is not the end of the world. But constantly living on borrowed money is a vicious circle.
This is a tricky one because the reason one person uses their overdraft/credit card is different from someone else. For many, it’s almost impossible to pay it off and I’m certainly not making light of this.
Start by looking at your income and non-negotiable outgoings (include food shopping, child care and anything that you pay for monthly). What’s the difference?
If you have money leftover, assess your spending habits and see if there’s anything you can give up for a bit until you’ve paid your debt off.
MoneySavingExpert has a great article for those who need more specialist help with this.
6. Buying things you can’t afford
We’re all guilty of this. We all like nice things and think we ‘deserve’ a treat, but not at the expense of your financial health. It’s good to splurge on yourself every now and then, but stop buying things that aren’t in your budget.
Eating out every single day is expensive. Designer bags are expensive. Cocktails are expensive (sob). If you’re living a life that is above and beyond what you can realistically afford, then you need to reassess.
I don’t care what your friends are doing. They’re not going to reimburse your life savings after a night of 2-4-1 cocktails in the Slug and Lettuce.
Be realistic, be selfish and be sensible.
What is your best financial tip? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @amywritesthings 🐦
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