When we think of clutter, it’s usually old and unused objects lying around the house that comes to mind. However, one of the most important areas where you should be decluttering, but which is often overlooked, is your finances. Fabian Broeker from MoneyMagpie.com shares his top tips…
Getting on top of your money can seem a daunting task, but it can make life a lot easier. As part of our Clear Your Clutter campaign, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you free yourself from financial flim-flammery…
Blast through bank account clutter
Your bank account is a good place to start your financial spring clean. Take a look at the bank you have your main account with, and ask yourself:
- Do they make you feel valued?
- Do they offer good incentives, such as a rewards scheme?
- Could another banks offer a much better service or extras?
What are your answers to those questions? Do you think it’s time to move banks?
Additionally, do you have any old bank accounts lying dormant? Close them down if you no longer need them.
Blitz your bank statement
If you really want to understand your money habits, look no further than your own bank statement. Not only can it tell you when you spend money and what you spend it on, but also if you look closely enough, why you spend it. It can even help you spot opportunities to make extra money.
When you’re going through your statement, pay extra attention to:
- Your regular outgoings. These are things such as gym memberships, insurances and household bills and they tend to come out by Direct Debit every month. Do you feel these costs are fair? Do you make the most of your gym membership? Could you get a better deal on your mobile bill, utilities or car insurance?
- Any payments you don’t recognise. Fraudsters are getting smarter and sneakier all the time, and they count on people not scrutinising every transaction on their bank statement. Don’t be afraid to query something that looks a bit dodgy with your bank. It could save you a ton of heartache (and money).
- Any little luxuries. That morning coffee on the way to work might only cost a couple of quid, but can add up to hundreds of pounds over the year. Investing in a good coffee flask and making a brew at home may work out cheaper. Could you cut down on cigarettes, snacks or nights out? Find your financial pitfalls and think of ways you can skirt past them in future.
Give your pensions and investments a polish
According to the Government Office for Science Future of Ageing Report 2017, one in seven of us will be aged over 75 by 2040.
On one hand, it’s great news; we’re living much longer than we were 100 years ago. On the other, pensioners are finding it very difficult to make ends meet, and this isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Pensions and investments will help you cover your means later in life, but truly understanding them can save you hundreds, maybe even thousands of pounds.
Spend some time flicking through your pension and investment statements. Take a look at how much you have and how much more you could put in to give yourself a decent pot later on. Our list of things you probably didn’t know about pensions can help you get to grips with this.
Remember, a great way to get a nice cushion for your retirement is to sell off all your unused items – Gumtree estimates these to be worth around £2,500 per household! Once you’ve done that, you could invest the money in a pension fund. The sooner you do this the more money you’ll have in the long term.
Get to know new technology
New apps and gadgets that can help you supercharge your finances are popping up all of the time. You could try:
- A spending tracker app like Wallet or Monefy to keep track of all your spending in real time [The MoneyAware team gave some budgeting apps a try]
- Clever banking apps like Monzo which budgets for you as you go along. It can even set spending caps on certain things to make sure you don’t splurge
- A free smart energy meter for your home from your energy provider. They’ll show you exactly how much the energy in your home costs and allow you to monitor and adjust outgoings with ease. Sometimes it’s easier to make changes to your daily finances and routines when you see them visualised
- Installing a water meter. They can really help you save on your bills, and are no bigger than a tin of baked beans!
Send old paperwork to the shredder
When was the last time you sorted through your old paperwork? Do you really need all of it? Getting rid of documents you don’t need means less clutter in your home or office, which means less stress and more room for you.
When sorting through your paperwork, keep in mind that:
- Statements for phone bills, credit cards, utilities, loans and bank statements can be accessed online, so there’s not always a reason to keep paper copies
- When getting rid of a document, make sure to use a shredder to protect your personal information and always double check that you are not binning something you do actually need – if you’re unsure call the bank or authority who sent it to you
- Do keep documents like driving licence, you birth certificate, passport, property deeds, marriage certificate and other personal identification and property ownership paperwork
Don’t ever let your finances get you down. No matter how many credit cards, investments, accounts and mortgages you have, there’s always a way to get back on top of things. If you need any further advice check out our tips on decluttering your finances. Make sure you check out our video on decluttering too!