Despite being the daughter of Yorkshire-born accountant I’m not very good with money. I’m good at spending money, but when it comes to giving myself a budget and sticking to it (um, budget, what budget?), organizing invoices, receipts and so on to ensure that doing my tax return is as easy as possible, heck, putting money aside to pay my tax return, and planning (financially speaking) for the future, well, I could do better.
As a freelancer it’s hard to say exactly how much I’m going to earn from month to month, but what I can control, at least to a certain degree, is what I spend my money on. I’ve decided to harness all that back-to-school new year energy I’m feeling right now and get a handle on my outgoings. Which is not to say I plan to stop spending money it’s more about looking at what I am spending and working out what’s necessary, what brings me joy and where I can cut back.
After last week’s productive weekend I’ve decided to introduce Gretchen Rubin’s Power Hour strategy – which my little sister told me about – into my life. The idea behind the Power Hour is to dedicate an hour a week – which is not very much at all when you think about it – to get on top of those nagging tasks that you never quite get around to doing but the very fact that you know you should be doing them weighs heavy on your mind and drags you down. Initially I’m going to use the Power Hour to get on top of my financial stuff.
I’m also going to get back into the habit of noting down what I spend every day as I find that when I do I spend less. When you realise you’re spending well over a tenner on breakfast, lunch and multiple coffees every week day (ok, I admit it, it’s close to £15), multiplying that by five, and then by four and subsequently realising you’re spending the best part of £300 a month in Pret/Pod/Eat/Itsu, well, making brekkie at home, cutting down on the coffee and taking a packed lunch to work more days than not starts to make a lot of sense.
One of the catalysts for my deciding to get a handle on my money was when, a couple of weeks ago, my car insurance came up for renewal. I’d switched cars part way through the insurance period from an old-style Mini to a basic Fiesta so I was kinda of surprised when the total to insure the Fiesta for the year ahead was going to be a lot more than it had been to insure the Mini, which was worth at least six times as much.
I went on several price comparison sites, receiving several quotes that were much nearer the amount I’d been paying for the last few years. Rather than switch immediately I called my insurance company and asked, “Is that your best price?” A few minutes later the lady on the other end of the phone came back with a new quote that was significantly cheaper than the original one and with just one phone call I’d saved the best part of £200.
Obviously I couldn’t help but wonder how many times in the past I’ve just accepted a quote when there was some wriggle room built in, but that way madness lies, so instead I plan to do my research ahead of merrily accepting whatever price I’m offered in the future. Alongside the aforementioned Power Hour and money diary I’m hoping that within a couple of months I’ll have gone from financial failure to, well, the opposite.
Anyone else got any good strategies for minimising outgoings, keeping on top of financial admin, getting the best deals and making savings on the essentials? Do share below!