When inflation grows, incomes shrink, and there’s no getting away from it. If you’re feeling the pinch, or even if you’re not and just want to manage money better, we’ve got a few strategies that might help.
Track Income and Expense
It sounds tedious but can be liberating and rewarding to know exactly where you stand with money. You’ll also be able to course correct if things are getting out of control and know the best way to do it.
This very basic system is borrowed from business accounting. Learning how to do this will show you if you enjoy juggling money and figures and could even open doors to a new career in accounting.
To get started you need to make yourself a ledger, and this is very easy. Take a notebook or a spreadsheet and make four columns. Starting on the left side, head them and fill them in, like this:
When you’re filling in your balance, don’t forget the standing orders or direct debits that go out automatically each month. If direct debit amounts vary, keep a regular eye on your bank statement so you can be accurate in your ledger.
Even if you don’t do anything else, this exercise will help you control spending because you’ll always have it in mind that you must record what happens in your bank account. It can really help you be more mindful about spending and avoid lots of impulse buys.
Monitor Your Spending
Keeping a personal finance ledger isn’t just a dry exercise. It has real benefits. Once you’ve got a couple of months of income and expenses written down, you can start analysing what’s going on and draw up a plan of action if savings are needed.
Incidentally, this isn’t just for emergency spending when your everyday budget feels squeezed. You can also use it to help build up savings accounts, put money aside for special occasions, or pay off your mortgage early if that’s your goal.
Look for spending patterns and categories. Your categories will differ from the next person, so this is a very personal exercise. Categories could include things like groceries, kid’s treats, clothing, entertainment, leisure, motoring, hobbies, or travel. There are also lots of books on how to save money to support your journey.
Add up the amounts you spend each month on those categories and decide if it’s reasonable or a bit much.
If it’s a bit much, can you find ways to cut back? It’s never easy, but maybe a cheaper supermarket or more generic brands, more walking and less driving, a couple of extra nights in or fewer takeaways?
Looking at money like this and thinking critically about how available funds are performing is also borrowed from professional accounting. Once you get the hang of it, you’re already beginning to understand a little about how business finance works. If you want to know more, an online accounting course could open doors to a very profitable future.
Practical Saving Ideas
Keeping a personal ledger is a long game because it’s ideally something you’ll do over months or even years. If you find you hate it, you don’t have to keep it up forever but try and do it for at least two or three months to give you a pattern to look at.
In the meantime, here are some ways to trim expenses more quickly.
Money plays such a huge part in all our lives, it’s great to find a way of managing it that’s not too hard. Figuring out your personal spending habits can help you find ways to save more without denying yourself all the nice things in life.
Thanks for reading xxx
Hi and welcome to The Willow Tree. I’m Michelle, also known as Shel and I am a mama to three beautiful crazy kids – I have two handsome boys and a wild and wonderful girl.
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