When you take back control and get rid of your debts, it’s a liberating feeling. Suddenly there’s a huge weight off your shoulders, so you sleep more soundly and breathe a bit more freely. And now the finances are under control, you might just feel like treating yourself.
The worst thing you can possibly do once you’ve climbed that mountain is to put another one in front of you. So once you’ve cleared that burden of debt, you’ll want to make sure it never comes back. Here are a few tips to help you manage your budget and keep those finances under control without getting back into debt.
Focus on the basics
It’s always tempting to keep paying for things you might want but don’t necessarily need. However, the best way to stop yourself from spending money unnecessarily is to make a list of the essentials that you need to pay out every month. Rent or mortgage, utility bills, council tax, insurance, food and travel costs – always prioritise spending on these basics and judge all your other spending based on what you have left over. For example, if you use your mobile but rarely make calls from your landline, just get rid of the latter. You might be surprised at just how much money is already going on things you don’t need, and freeing up that cash will make it less likely you feel like resorting to the credit card.
Yes, it takes time and yes, it might be a bit of a hassle at times, but the money you can save by investing half an hour in shopping around for a better deal is well worth the effort. Start with those essential outgoings you know you can’t get rid of, and take a bit of time every month or two to get online and see if there’s another company that can offer you the service you need with a smaller price tag. Staying loyal to the same company doesn’t always pay off, so be prepared to make the switch.
Think in terms of time
Before you make a purchase that can’t be seen as essential, take some time out to consider whether it’s really worth your while. Maybe leave the shop, have a wander around and see whether it still seems like a good idea later in the day. But actually, one of the best litmus tests of whether you should really go for it is to think about it not in terms of money, but time. If you don’t need that purchase but you can afford it, think about how much you earn per hour compared to the cost. Is it worth that many hours of work to you?
Make, don’t buy
Many of the things we buy every day seem unavoidable. After all, you do need to have lunch at work, and there’s always so much pressure to give people great presents for birthdays and special occasions. But the chances are there are loads of ways you can keep these costs down by making things yourself. Spend a small amount on some basic ingredients and find a recipe online for a hearty filling soup, then make a big portion that so you can take a little bit into work for lunch each day over a week – or even just take sandwiches. When it comes to things like presents, consider making thoughtful homemade gifts or baking a cake. There’s probably a video online that will show you what to do.
The latest 3D blockbuster has hit cinemas, and of course you want to be first in the queue. Or maybe you’re addicted to that gym membership. Whatever you’re spending your cash on, there’s guaranteed to be a cheaper hobby or another way of doing what you love to do. Try running outside rather than on a gym treadmill, see if your local theatre or a charity needs any help with volunteering, or even set up a blog and tell the world about your money-saving adventures. There are so many ways to spend your time, and not all of them will break the bank.