3 small & simple ways to take financial control
According to a recent study carried out by the Current Account Switch Service (CASS),
4 in 10 people feel that finishing small tasks gives them a sense of control.
While the Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly caused thousands, if not millions, of people to feel a huge lack of control in their lives, many people who took part in the study said that ticking some of the smaller tasks off their ‘to-do’ lists helped to get rid of this feeling and regain some control.
The study showed that out of all the general tasks we need to do, such as mowing our lawns and cleaning our windows, those that are finance-related are usually the ones that people put off doing the most and for the longest amount of time - understandably!
While we’d all rather spend time making sure the grass in our garden is cut to perfection instead of sifting through our finances, taking small steps to tackle each aspect of your financial situation will help make your life so much less stressful and you’ll feel good about it afterwards - no matter how big or small, it’s still an achievement - and you don’t need to do it all at once!
Where to start?
If you want to start taking steps towards saving money and taking control of your finances for a far easier life and peace of mind, the following 3 areas are a great place to start:
1. Check your bank balance and savings
The Current Account Switch Service’s study discovered that on average, people delay looking at the state of their bank accounts for as long as 159 days!
If you’re guilty of doing this, bite the bullet and check it now. Facing your finances head on is the best way to start taking control of them.
When you do bite the bullet, you’ll need to go through your monthly statements and make a list of all your bills so you know what your total outgoings (expenses) are per month and what you have left over to spend on essentials and treats or to put into savings.
Then, make a note of the dates when your contracts will be coming to an end on a calendar or in your diary such as your car insurance renewal, car finance, mobile phone contract and energy bills. This way, you’ll know what’s coming up throughout the year and won’t be hit with financial dread and panic out of the blue.
Next, identify which of your bills will allow you to switch providers when the contract ends so that you can start saving money. For example, you can’t change your water supplier but you can switch to another energy company to save money on your gas and electricity bills and you can switch your home insurance provider, too.
If your savings are starting to dwindle, have a think about how you can start to put an amount away every month - to do this, you’ll need to be really strict with yourself and refrain from unnecessary spending such as pointless subscriptions that you don’t even use (we all do it!).
You may even wish to switch banks that offer switching bonuses and deals if you feel like it’s time for a change (some will give you money to switch to them!).
2. Switch providers
When it comes to identifying where you need to switch providers, it’ll most likely be the following:
- Energy bills (gas and electricity)
- Car insurance
- Home insurance
- Broadband, TV & mobile phone package
Find out when these contracts are due to end and set a reminder or alarm around one month beforehand (or a bit longer if you want to be super organised) so that you can start doing your research then.
This will give you plenty of time to look on comparison sites for better deals and inform your current supplier or insurer that you do not wish to auto-renew (some providers require one month’s notice, which is why it is a good idea to start researching a month or two before the contract expires).
Generally, by letting your bills auto-renew, you will be charged a lot more on the next contract, which is the main reason why switching is one of the best ways to save!
However, depending on your insurance company or supplier, you might wish to stay with them if they agree to match the cheapest quote you find online or even offer a cheaper deal altogether, in which case, you’ll be better off staying put with them. You will need to contact them after doing your research to do this though, and just make sure you’re still fully covered for all your needs if they give you a cheaper deal.
While this may all seem daunting, the satisfaction and sense of control you will feel afterwards will be incredibly rewarding and you’ll save so much money - as much as £400! And when you do this for the first time, you’ll have more confidence when it comes to doing it the following year.
Tap the links above to read our handy guides on renewing and switching providers.
3. Check your credit score (for free!)
These are a few reasons why it’s important to check your credit score regularly.
If you discover that your score is good to excellent, you will know where you stand if you need to get credit in the future (i.e. a loan, credit card or mortgage, etc.), but it’s important to make sure that you maintain this, so keep paying your bills on time and in full - otherwise, your score will drop and it will take a while to build it back up again.
If, however, you discover that your credit score is fair or poor, you’ll know that you need to start working on improving it, and this doesn’t happen overnight, so be patient!
When you see it start to go back up, this will motivate you, make you feel in control again and reassure you that if you ever need credit in the future, you shouldn’t have a problem getting accepted.
If you need to work on your score, read our 12 tips for building it up.
Spread out your tasks
If you feel yourself putting these tasks off, it’s important to allocate a time slot (whether that’s a morning or evening) where you focus on ticking one thing off at a time - that way, you can mentally prepare yourself in the days leading up to it, so it won’t feel like such a chore and overwhelming when the time comes. Set a reminder on your phone or make a note in your diary and stick to it!
You could allocate a day or morning per task, for example, so that you’re not piling the pressure on yourself by trying to do too much. Trying to get everything done in one day or time slot can seem overwhelming, stressful and off-putting, and if you don’t manage to do it all, you may feel even more stressed and defeated, so taking it one small step at a time is the most manageable and efficient way to take control, and it can feel really motivating!
The importance of gaining financial control
The main reason why getting your finances in order is so important is that it does wonders for your mental health, especially after the financially unstable year everyone experienced in 2020.
If you tackle the above areas bit by bit, you’ll start to notice a difference in your attitude towards money and by managing it better, you’ll have more money to do the things you really want without feeling stressed about affording your bills or even checking your bank balance!
Read our handy articles below for more useful tips.
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- Why is Your Credit Score Important?
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- How to Improve Your Credit Score UK
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- 10 Tips on How to Protect Your Finances
- Borrowers Confused about Payment Holidays and Impact on Credit Score