This month, our financial columnist Lorraine Donegan looks at how to prepare for the coming party season by managing your money as if it were your own business
Ok, it’s only the beginning of October, so I’m not going to mention the “C” word… but it’s coming! Presents, food, travel, sequins, cocktails, velvet, ribbons, laughter, tears, occasion wear… whatever the silly season means to you, I can guarantee one thing – it won’t come cheap! So do yourself a favour and set yourself a little challenge in October and November — treat your income as a business and reap the benefits come December.
Think about it. When you run a business, you want it to be profitable, right? You definitely don’t want it running at a loss, and you would ultimately like it to accumulate in value. Adopt the same mentality with your income, and you’ll be hoarding cash in no time.
Get under your overheads
First things first, look at your overheads (i.e light, heat, all the “little things” that you spend your money on). In business, you definitely wouldn’t spend money on things you didn’t need, so take a look at your spending first. What “overheads” could you cut out or reduce in the next two months?
Looking at my own life and expenditure, here are a few examples of what I’ll be doing:
- My phone contract is up, but I won’t be upgrading because I’m perfectly happy with my current phone – saving €200.
- I’m coveting a gorgeous chunky knit cardigan, but I won’t be buying it… Honestly, I don’t have the wardrobe space for it anyway – saving €135.
- No more eating out during the week. Mr D and I will be opting for takeout and Netflix on a Friday night rather than a restaurant – saving €450.
As you can see, the figures add up very quickly, so do yourself a favour and keep a note of all the things you do to save money over the next two months. Keeping a running total of all the savings will keep you motivated.
Always turn a profit
I’ll also be making it a priority to add a little extra to my “fun fund” over the next two months. Let me explain — it’s really important to save first, spend later. That way, you’ll always have more money than you spend. The most painless way to do this is to set up three different direct debits that come out of your account the day after your wage is paid:
- A direct debit (DD) for long-term savings like a pension, equity funds, college savings or house deposit.
- A DD emergency fund that you’ll only tap when life throws you a curveball… like when your car goes on fire on the M7 and three fire engines are called to put the flames out – believe me, it happens!
- A debit for short-term savings, aka the “fun fund”, which you’ll use to save for making memories, like a weekend away with the girls, scuba diving with the kids, or a festive fund. If you only start with €50 a month, that’s an extra €100 in only two months… and by October next year, that’s €600 + interest.
Know your risks and insure them
Finally, while taking up this challenge for the next two months would be a great start, it would be a fantastic attitude to adopt over the long term. With that in mind, I wouldn’t be a great financial advisor if I didn’t mention the need for you to assess where your risks lie so that you can mitigate against them.
Irrespective of whether you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s or 60+, if your business/income went “belly up” in the morning, do you know how your lifestyle would be protected? It’s not sexy or fun, but with the “comfort blanket” of income protection and life cover, I know that many of my clients sleep much better at night.
So what do you think? Are you up for the challenge?
Until next month,
Lorraine Donegan, aka the Money Muse, is a CEO and founder at Donegan Financial Services. If you’d like to ask any specific questions about any finance-related topic, email [email protected]
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