7 money-saving personal finance moves to start right now, according to a financial advisor
06th Jul 2023
At a time when inflation is busting everyone’s finances, try these money-saving personal finance strategies from Carol Brick, QFA, personal finance advisor and owner of HerMoney.
With rising prices on all sides, from energy to interest rates, groceries to appliances, these practical finance moves will help you to fight the pressures of inflation and regain a little control on household spending.
Conduct a personal finance audit
Print out some bank statements and examine all your various outgoings over the month or even the quarter. Look at ways to make possible savings. Questions you need to ask yourself: can I firstly save any money on the big-ticket items in terms of monthly expenditure? When was the last time I reviewed my mortgage policy, mortgage protection cover, and major insurance policies? Companies are competing for this business and will help with switching. Other simple cost-cutting measures to help counteract rising prices include cancelling unused or underutilised subscriptions and memberships and checking online price comparison sites before renewing energy, telecoms or general insurance contracts.
Make a budget
Having a household budget is the best way to keep costs under control, and many of our clients have seen real savings using this practice. Now more than ever is the time for it. Simply keep track of how much you spend, and what you are spending it on, given that there’s been significant price changes in various categories. A computer-based spreadsheet is ideal, or even an old ledger to fill in under the different headings. Once you start, it becomes routine. Just looking at your expenditure focuses the mind, and you realise there are questionable spending habits that could be reigned in a little or more cost-effectively dealt off.
Pay off expensive debt
Many people pay off their debt with whatever money they have left at the end of the month. This means debt is at the bottom of their financial priority list. But paying down debt, especially variable debt, like credit cards, personal loans and variable rate mortgages, should now come second to living expenses, even well ahead of investing, now that interest rates are on the upward spiral. Many mortgage payments are on the up, and it’s even worth looking at paying off a chunk of your mortgage now if you do get a windfall.
Get a rainy-day fund
It is tempting to seek out investments that will keep pace with inflation with any extra cash. But, before considering this, we recommend setting aside enough cash to overcome any immediate financial challenges. A rainy-day savings fund is there to cover unexpected expenses or emergencies and should be 3 to 4 times your net monthly salary. Save it in a deposit account that you can access in a hurry, if necessary.
Making a meal of it
Plan meals and always make a shopping list. Batch cook and meal plan for the week ahead at the weekend, then make a list, stick to it and shop once per week! Online shopping and delivery will help avoid temptation and saves fuel. Pre-planning is guaranteed to save money, and helps avoid impulse buying.
Start ‘No Spend’ and ‘Use It Up’ days. At least two days per week, leave your wallet safely at home (emergency credit card on phone only), and try your best to not spend anything at all. Use up food stored in your freezer, and dry food in your larder, to create handy meals without spending. I promise that developing these slightly ‘frugal’ habits will save you a fortune, and leave you feeling smugly satisfied!
Invest in yourself
I am stealing this last one from one of my personal idols, Warren Buffet. He maintains that investing in your own talent, and being the best at what you do during inflationary times, is one of the best ways to improve your own purchasing power over time. I agree with his advice on using this time to bulk up your CV, through further learning and training. Pursuing education now will not only help you grow your knowledge base, but will also make you a more “indispensable” employee in the future. By increasing your value to your employer and your clients, you are guaranteed to increase your fair share of earnings during a time when you need it most.
Carol Brick, QFA, runs CWM Wealth Management, a personal finance company she set up in 2008 that now has offices in Cork and Dublin. She operates a dedicated business, HerMoney, providing financial advice for professional and self-employed women. The business has 10 staff members and Carol has advised over 5,000 clients nationwide.
Photography by Monstera.
This article was originally published in October 2022.