Firstly, can I just say thank you for all of your lovely comments on our last post. We are very happy, excited and a bit nervous, all at the same time! There are lots of things to consider and plan for now, but we are very grateful to be on this journey.
Spring seems like the perfect time to have a freshen up of your finances, an overhaul of the system that is already in place. The longer days filled with warm sunshine and a refreshed feeling seems the appropriate moment to check that your finances are in check, that they are running smoothly and nothing has been left that shouldn’t have been.
1. Sign up for Online Banking.
The best thing I ever did when I first went to university was to get internet banking, as opposed to getting bank statements once a month and checking at the ATM in the meantime. Online banking means that you have instant access to your accounts and you can keep an eye on things, at whichever moment suits you best. It also means you can complete transactions, pay bills, transfer money between accounts and know instantaneously if someone has tried to use your account. This streamlines your finances because you can check them at any time and be more knowledgeable about your own finances.
2. Go paperless.
This is something I have only done fairly recently (read: in the last week!) and I’ll be honest, I’m already relieved knowing that the amount of bills coming through the post will be reduced. Also, because I already have online banking, there is absolutely no need for us to be sent statements as well, because I can see our accounts any time I want, to check every little detail if I want to. The addition every month of a paper statement of each of our accounts seems excessive, and I’m looking forward to less paper/junk being in our house. This is streamlining our finances and our house at the same time!
3. Sort out your Direct Debits/Standing Orders.
We have a lot of bills that go out of our account each month automatically, mainly direct debits. These include our mortgage payment, water rates, gas and electric, council tax, insurance and phone/broadband. Once me and my husband combined our finances, I made a note of all of the separate direct debits and standing orders that were due to come out of our joint account, what date they came out on and how much for. I then changed some of them so that they all went out on the same date each month – this makes budgeting easier as all of the major bills are paid just after we get paid each month, so that there is definitely going to be the cash in our account. By being organised in terms of what goes out when, this streamlines your finances and stops the worry of not having enough money in your account at once.
4. Check that everything you pay for is necessary.
This might take a while, but there many be payments that go out of your account each month that are actually no longer necessary. Perhaps you have a monthly gym payment that goes out but you haven’t stepped foot inside the gym for months (I have definitely been guilty of this one!). Perhaps you could reduce your cable package, to reduce the monthly bill for that. Do you really need all the additional extras that cost an extra £30 a month? Work out if you use them and if not, get rid. Likewise with your mobile phone bill, if that’s possible. Everything your hard-earned money gets spent on each month needs to be important and necessary. If you streamline your finances and cut down your outgoings so your money is working best for you, then this will only be a benefit in the long term.
5. Check that your mortgage and home-related expenses are the best you can get.
I recently posted that we have changed our mortgage recently, which will save us £120 a month in our mortgage payment plus around £70 a month in interest alone. It took about an hour of researching (on husband’s part!) to find a better deal than we were currently on. Now, changing your mortgage will have an initial cost, such as bank charges, but this is a long term streamlining your finances. Over the lifetime of the loan, you can reduce the amount paid back by thousands of pounds. Streamlining your finances for the long term will benefit your overall budget no end.
I am in the process of streamlining our finances at the moment, in terms of checking that everything we’re paying for is the best deal for us, and necessary for our lifestyle. This will take the pressure off us even more, as we know we will be on the right track. Now, if only I could do the same thing with other aspects of life, it would be good….