How to Be a Money Savvy
After a European Ruling today suggested that we could be forced to pay annual fees of up to £25 on our credit and debit cards it seems as if the end of so-called free banking is in sight. This move has been made with the aim of producing a fairer consumer finance system which would hopefully see consumers pay less overall for their spending, however as we all know gains at the top of the financial ladder rarely trickle down to benefit we as customers who are already squeezed to breaking point. No matter who we are or what industry we work in we have all felt the backlash from the worldwide recession – from pay freezes to soaring costs and in the worst case scenario losing our jobs, there’s some form of financial suffering felt for everyone. Despite the downturn it’s more than possible to become a money savvy female in today's world – there’s generally two parts to achieving this, the first being to ensure we don’t get into debt and manage on a neat budget. The second of course is to tackle what we have on our shoulders at the moment in terms of debt and tackle this responsibly.
Living Large for Less
One of the best things about being a money savvy female is learning to get more on a tighter budget, although I found this difficult at first it became rewarding when I found out how to get more for my money and make it stretch further. Personally it became habitual for me to question every purchase in terms of how necessary it was and this habit became even more worthwhile as my businesses grew and I earned more. The key is learning to budget and this is a tough task as it means you must forecast both a short-term and long-term budget and integrate them together e.g. you have to ensure that months with extra expenditures such as Christmas are budgeted for every month to make your money go further. You can try and make this work using a spread sheet although budget planning calculators can be a bit faster in helping you add up the bills and arrive at a viable budget. The best place to start is to know what you have to work with in terms of spending money, when you reach this point it’s a case of stretching the budget and looking for the best places to get what you want at the lowest price. Think thrift shops and online outlet and department stores.
Mastering Your Finances
Part of becoming a money savvy female is all about tackling the debt situation (if you have one). Although perhaps tempting it’s important not to throw final payment notices and bills into a messy drawer with the intention of never going back – open every letter and make sure you take in the information no matter how intimidating this may seem. Facing up to things like bad credit loans and other debts can be a really frightening thing to have to do but the situation will only get worse if you don’t work out a plan of action. Begin by getting a better picture of your current financial situation and total up what you owe, contact your creditors and work out an action plan for repayment which means you aren’t charged anymore interest (or if you are the minimum rate at least). Usually when you explain your situation to creditors they will work with you to schedule a plan of repayment which is more affordable, organisations such as debt charities can help with this too.
Mastering both the past and present of your spending habits is the key to becoming a whizz of your own finances, all elements can seem a bit daunting at first (e.g. knowing when and where to cut back if needed) but always remember that you aren’t alone when it comes to finding your feet. There’s thousands of men and women out there alike and when it comes to getting the advice you need there’s always someone willing to lend a hand.
Laura O'Hanlon is the creator of the blogs Living Minimalist and Sweeter Business, she blogs daily on finance management, minimalist living and health and wellbeing as well as women in business.