Doing the finances can be a little intimidating. And, we’ll admit it, sitting up with a calculator and a big stack of bills isn’t the most appealing of tasks. But it pays to clean up your finances every now and again – you can stay on top of what’s coming up, get a good picture of where your money goes (and where you can cut back) and see how you can start working towards some financial goals, whether you’re saving for a house or looking to pay off some debts.
That’s why we’ve come up with five quick and easy ways to clean up your finances. They shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to do, and they’ll make a huge difference in the long run.
Why not take 10 minutes every evening – from Monday to Friday (nobody wants to do budgeting at the weekend) – and get these done?
You could have cleaner, healthier finances within a week
Write a budget (and use it)
OK, this is the biggy. If you seriously want to clean up your finances, you need to budget. Writing a budget can take longer than ten minutes – if you want to go in-depth – but it can also take five minutes (if you’re on top of everything).
The important thing is that you get a good picture of what’s coming in and what’s going out (and what it’s being spent on or where it’s coming from).
Once you’ve got that, you can be as thorough or as vague as you like. Some people like to budget ‘£xx’ for food, ‘£xx’ for leisure, while others just like knowing that they have ‘£xx’ left after bills and rent every month and then playing it week-to-week.
If you’re new to budgets, here’s our quick guide on budget planning.
Think about where you can cut back
If you’ve got ten minutes and you’ve written your budget, have a look and see where you can cut back.
And remember, you don’t have to think big. Like our grandparents always say: look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.
If you love going to the gym or the cinema every week, you don’t have to cut it out because it’s a big expense. Perhaps you can take lunch to work during the week or make a coffee before your morning commute?
Saving just £3 a day during the week adds up to £782 a year. Saving £5 a day adds up to £1,303.50.
Like we said, the change doesn’t have to be massive.
Little changes that don’t have a drastic effect on your lifestyle are more likely to become money-saving habits.
Transfer your credit card debt onto a 0% transfer card (or think of a debt consolidation loan)
If you’ve got a bit of credit card debt hanging over your head, then it might be time to consider taking a good go at getting rid of it.
If you’re only making the minimum repayments every month, you could be racking up tonnes of interest – when this happens, you end up paying a lot more in the long run.
There are two ways of dealing with this:
Firstly, a balance transfer card. This allows you to transfer your debt to a 0% card and pay the amount owed off in an agreed period, thereby stopping the climbing interest rates.
Here’s a great video by USwitch that explains it in more detail:
Alternatively, take 10 minutes to consider a debt consolidation loan to wrap all of your outstanding debt into one payment and wipe it out over a fixed-period.
(For more info on debt consolidation loans, check out our in-depth guide.)
Clean up your finances: clean up your credit score
We talk about credit scores a lot on this blog, but that’s because they’re so important. And one thing that people often don’t realise is that little tiny changes can have a huge effect on your credit score.
So, while building your credit score up can take months, making sure you’ve got a strong foundation to build on can take a matter of minutes.
Here are some quick ways to tidy up your credit file:
- Make sure you’re on the electoral roll for your address
- Cancel any unused credit cards
- Apply for a credit builder card and use it little and often (and pay it off in full)
Those things take a few minutes each, but can have a huge effect on your credit report. And, when done in conjunction with other sensible credit-building habits, can have a huge impact on your financial health.
Consider switching bank accounts
Switching bank accounts sounds like a pain, right? In actual fact, it’s quite painless. Thanks to the 7-day-switch scheme, you can transfer all of your money and outgoing payments to a new bank within a week.
But why would you want to do this?
For a start, banks usually don’t reward loyalty. They offer the best deals for new customers – cash incentives, interest rates and cashback offerings – and nothing for their old customers. Why not switch and take your share of the loot?
But more importantly, switching to an account with a better interest rate can mean more money in the bank for you. And who can say no to that?
At Bamboo, we’re big on helping you clean up your finances. From advice on budgeting to ways you can tighten the belt (as well as advice on everything to do with pennies and pounds), why not have a look at the rest of the content on our blog?