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Spring clean your finances


British springtime has officially begun, and the annual tradition of the spring clean has crept back up on us again!

If you are sick of airing out your cupboards or deep cleaning your carpets, maybe its time for you to have a spring clean of you finances instead.

Why do I need a spring clean?

Even if you are extremely careful when it comes to your budget, sometimes it can save you a significant amount of money to go through you finances. Often deals you won’t have thought about can save you money, you could be paying over the odds for certain Direct Debits or standing orders, or there could be a Direct Debit or standing order you forgot about that you could be paying.

How do I spring clean my finances?

Try and get hold of three months worth of bank statements. If you don’t get sent them, you may be able to print them off online or pop into branch and get them. Then, see if you can find all of your bills, ranging from gas and electricity, internet, TV and council tax. You should then gather together any debts you have and work out how much you owe (it may be painful, but it has to be done!). Some past wage slips might come in useful as well. When you have all your information in front of you, follow our next steps to get your finances in more order, and hopefully be left with a little extra each month!

Step 1: Take a look your monthly budget

One of the most important things to help you save money is to work out how much you are spending. Find out how much you get paid each month after tax, then work out how much you spend on everything else, be it rent, mortgage, essential bills, child care costs or leisure activities. It may be a long process, and also a little scary figuring out exactly what happens to your money each month, bit it will be worth it in the long run.
If you are struggling to do this on your own, it might be worth having a look at an online budget calculator to help you work out the details. When you know exactly where your money goes each month, it makes it much easier to discover where you can start to make changes and save money.

Step 2: Sort out your bills

One of the easiest ways to save money is to have a firm understanding of your outgoings. Paying for certain bills such as gas and electricity, and even broadband and mobile phones to an extent, are a necessity. This, however, does not mean you can’t always save money on them.
Many consumers forget that when it comes to household bills they may be able to get a better deal from another supplier. At this point, price comparison websites can be your best friend.
With price comparison websites, you can discover cheaper deals on almost everything you pay bills towards. This could be your energy provider, broadband and TV provider, home insurance or car insurance. By comparing how much cheaper other deals are, you could potentially be saving yourself £1000’s of pounds!
Do you have internet, satellite or cable TV and a landline? If you have all three but with separate companies, it will be worth looking for a bundle deal, as this could save you a large amount of money per month.

REMEMBER: A late or missed bill payment can be recorded on your credit file, and in turn pull down your credit score. If you have not done so already, most companies will let you switch your payments to automatic billing. This way, you can choose a date at which you will have your payments automatically withdrawn from your bank account. You can make sure this is a day near your pay day, so you won’t be left short.

Step 3: Take control of your credit cards

Do you have a credit card? If you do now is the time to make sure you have the best credit card to suit your needs as you may be paying an interest rate of upwards of 17%. If you switch to a different provider with a 0% balance transfer and 0% interest (this is usually only offered for a short amount of time), you can cut your interest and pay your debt off much quicker.

Step 4: Work on reducing your outgoings

There are many ways you can work towards reducing your outgoings to help create a little extra money. Reducing the amount of energy you use around the house could really have a significant impact on your monthly bills, and it’s really easy to get into the habit of it. Using energy saving light bulbs and avoiding using the tumble dryer, or downloading an app to control your heating when you are out of the house are just a few of the ways in which you can save money as well as helping the environment.

There are also easy, everyday ways to save money on your grocery shopping.

Retailers are always looking for ways to get people into shops, and spring time is no different.
If you are looking for ways to save money on your weekly shop, it might be worth collecting coupons. If you really take to it, you can potentially save a whopping 70-90% off your grocery bill per week. Start looking in your local newspapers and checking your junk mail and you could find massive savings to help you save money each week.
As well as couponing, planning your family’s meals each week can make a massive difference to your budget. Sainsburys offers recipes to feed a family of four for the whole week, for only £50! ). You could set yourself and your family a task of cooking these meals each day, and sticking to them. Think of how much you would save on your weekly food bill!

Don’t forget, spring is not the only time it might be worthwhile cleaning out you finances. If you make a conscious effort to make these changes as little as twice a year, you could potentially save yourself thousands of pounds in the process.

If you would like further help spring cleaning your finances, why not take our 30 minute , no obligation financial health check. Our financial advisers can have an in depth look into anything from spending habits to pension options. For more information click here

Do you have any great money saving ideas? Let us know on twitter @financialuk

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