Money worries have the potential to weigh heavily and affect life yet so many of us easily get them. Whether it's big debts or just not feeling in control of spending, it can all add pressure and cause sleepless nights. It's so easy to lose your grasp on finances and bad habits can creep in without realising.
Having recently had a bit of a financial crisis (and refuse to feel embarrassed about it!) I've got some tips and tricks that can help you regain control or just to keep things in balance.
Find a budget app
I can't stress how important tracking your spending is - you'll be shocked at how quickly your spending adds up and you'll soon start realising why you kept going into your overdraft. Having some accountability will make you think twice about buying and you'll get a much better picture of your financial priorities by using a budget app. I use a super no frills one called Fudget to simply record my daily spending but if you want to get more in-depth there are some great apps out there that you can set a budget for different things - so for instance food, socialising and clothing. Some also connect to your bank account so you get a crystal clear picture of what's going on with your finances. Try Money Dashboard or Spendee.
Unsubscribe from tempting emails
While it's lovely to get emails from beautiful shops and sites with their lovely wares it's also extremely tempting. Sometimes ignorance is bliss and having not seen a product you won't absolutely need it in your life! Take the temptation away and do a newsletter cull - bookmark the sites instead under a 'feeling flush' header and if you find yourself with some cash to treat yourself you can then go looking!
Sell, sell, sell!
You'd be amazed at how much money you can make by selling stuff you don't really need. Lamps that have been gathering dust in the loft, clothes you haven't worn for a year, trainers you wore once that rubbed your little toe, partially used skincare you didn't get on with - it's all sellable! Use eBay for clothes, Depop for bags and trainers and younger high st brands and Facebook marketplace for furniture, home appliances and lifestyle stuff. The cleanse will feel amazing and you'll be able to raise a fair wad to pay off that credit card bill! Take photos in good light (opposite a window, hanging from a door or wardrobe on a nice hanger) and post out using simple brown parcel paper to keep packaging costs down.
Also, dress agencies and pre loved shops are perfect for higher quality labels - they take your garments, put them out for sale for a set amount of time and when they sell you get a commission. If they don't sell you get them back and you can list them elsewhere. Linens and natural materials sell well.
Adopt a one in one out policy
Saw a jumpsuit in a shop that you absolutely can't live without? Sell something and fund it! This also keeps on top of space in your wardrobe. Additionally, keeping a spare simple bank account allows you to transfer money from impulse purchases you flexed your willpower at and resisted - perhaps it will fund a little weekend away.
Leave your credit card at home
By not taking your credit card out with you you are less likely to make an impulse purchase. Also, remove it from your apple pay!
Get a 0% balance transfer
A 0% balance transfer works by transferring your balance for a small fee and you then get a set amount of time to pay the balance off without interest being added to it. This helps you get on top of your credit card balance because the money you pay off every month is 100% going towards the debt rather than added interest. It's a no brainer!
Keep an excel sheet with your monthly outgoings on it and then adjust as new things are added or are paid off. Include regular monthly expenses like a veg box, pet food, average petrol spend - leave no stone unturned! At the beginning of each month work out a weekly budget and take it out in cash - seeing how cash can fritter away will make you think twice about everything you're buying.
Look at spending trends
Are you spending £7 on two drop in yoga classes a week? Perhaps you'd be better off with a gym membership who offer classes or a paid upfront course? Or MoveGB offers a membership at £12.49 a week which includes a wealth of different classes, as well as gym access, swimming pools and exercise classes.
Spare room? AirBNB it!
Once you get into the swing of AirBNB it makes for a very welcome injection of extra cash without too much hassle. You can choose to be as involved as you like and you'll meet interesting people while earning. Say you set your room at £30 per night you'd only need to book it out around 10 nights a month to make an extra £300 a month. Plus it means you'll have the motivation to keep your place nice and clean! Don't worry about kids or pets - the AirBNB community is large and varied and as long as you are clear about your home set up then you'll attract the right guests.
Plan your food each week
Every Saturday morning (or whichever days works for you), sit down and work out a rough plan for meals for the next 7 days and then make a list of what you need for the meals (checking your cupboards as you go) - it will help you eliminate waste, shop frugally and save you a lot of money by blind buying.
Stocking up on low cost but nutritious foods mean you always have something in! Puy lentils are super cheap and will provide protein and carbs and are easy to mix in with salads and things like feta or halloumi. I also love to cook tasty but cheap to knock up things like tabbouli. Pulses are super for quick fix meals - I batch cook a vat of chickpeas and keep in portions in the freezer and can then be used for curries and making humous. They are also cheap as chips if you buy them loose - try places like HISBE or Charlotte's Cupboard. Also, oats bought in the same way are a wonderful thing to have in for slow release energy breakfast - soak them overnight, have in porridge or throw in smoothies.
Do a friends version of Come of Dine With Me
Eating out is delightful but when you're on a budget it can wipe a lot of your monthly spend out! Setting up a WhatsApp with some friends and inviting each other round for dinner is a cost effective and fun way to spend time together while trying new dishes. If you haven't got the space for a dining table you could always do a picnic in the park.
Take advantage of the great outdoors
We have a beautiful playground at our fingertips, for free! Let friends know where you are at with your situation and ask if it would be ok to meet for a walk instead of the pub or at a restaurant. Take a flask of tea or something a bit stronger and enjoy the time together, talking and listening and spending quality time together.
Do you have any ingenious ways you manage money and keep spending down? Add to the comments, I'd love to hear them!
All images © Emma Croman except main cover image by Alexa Clarke Kent.
Formally Emma Gutteridge