Over the last two weeks we’ve taken a look at the world of personal finance (see personal finance guide part one and personal finance guide part two) including how to separate your “needs” and “wants”; and how to live within your means.
In the final part of our personal finance guide, we examine some of the ways in which you can make your money go further.
Maximise your savings
Being smart with your money isn’t all about cutting back – it’s also about making the most of the money you earn. The most obvious place to start is your bank account.
Most people have their money paid into a current account – but chances are if you haven’t switched current accounts in recent years, you’ll be receiving a paltry rate of interest on your cash. If you have a little money to set aside consider taking out a cash ISA, which offers a tax-free method of saving. With more money to save, you can set up a savings account which should offer a higher rate of interest but may place restrictions on how you can access this cash.
Another, often overlooked, method of making money is to take out a credit card. Many people associate credit cards with debt: however, if you know you can comfortably pay your credit card bill at the end of each month then you can actually make it work for you. Many credit cards come with rewards schemes – it might be that you get air miles or savings at some of your favourite stores; or you could even take out a cashback card, which earns you money directly every time you spend.
Slash your outgoings
Irrespective of whether you have money to set aside or not, there are a host of ways to reduce your outgoings. It’s well worth taking a look at your bank statements and reviewing where your money goes each month. Cutting back on one or two nights out a month; taking a packed lunch to work instead of buying sandwiches every day; cutting out that morning coffee; or cancelling a subscription you no longer make the most of; could help you save substantially every month.
For larger savings, take a thorough review of all your financial products. For example, if you have a credit card, consider moving the balance to a zero per cent balance transfer card that won’t charge you interest for an introductory period. Shop around for better rates on insurance; consider moving to a new gas and electricity deal (generally online, direct debit deals are the cheapest); and review your mobile phone bill to see if you could pay less by taking out a different tariff.
Finally, try to save money when you spend. Consider taking out a loyalty card at your favourite stores; shop online where prices are generally lower than buying in store; use comparison websites to find cheaper deals on large purchases; and take advantage of voucher code websites such as Moneysaver.ie every time you plan to shop to see if there are savings to be made.