In these strained economic times, we’re all looking for ways to increase our income and reduce our expenditure. However, what is often overlooked is the issue of money management. With many of us trying to pay off student loans, credit cards and all sorts of bills at the same time, knowing how to prioritize your debt can actually make a big difference to your overall financial health.
Since most of us now have a smartphone, access to the internet or both, it seems foolish not to use the wide range of apps and websites out there that can help you to manage your money better.
The PocketMoney app is a good place to start, as it provides an easy-to-use customisable interface which lays out your monthly expenditure by category. You can also track your savings and investments in the same way. The benefits of having everything in one place should not be underestimated – it makes it much easier to identify areas where savings can be made.
HomeBudget takes things a step further, not only tracking your incomings and outgoings in neat little graphs, but providing push notifications when there are significant changes in your circumstances. It can also extrapolate your current financial commitments to tell you what you will look like financially in six months time. For those who struggle with long-term planning, this could be ideal.
Although it might look simple, Pageonce Money and Bills is about as comprehensive as it comes. As well as tracking your bank accounts and credit card, you can also link in your bills, cell phone contract and even travel rewards for a full picture of your money situation, protected by bank-level security.
Along with these helpful apps, switching to a bank account which assist with budgeting is also a good step towards better money management. Jam jar accounts, so named because the single account is split into smaller pots, are not for everyone but are worth considering. The user can set aside a section of their income to cover bills, leaving the remainder in a separate pot. The advantage here is that the pot to cover bills is protected from everyday expenditure; accidentally spending too much and letting your rent or bill payments bounce can result in penalty charges from most banks – which routinely leads to falling further into debt.
These accounts do carry a small surcharge for usage, but it’s a nominal fee to avoid the costly charges that come with unauthorised borrowing. Some providers, such as Secure Trust Bank, also offer the service of a professional money manager as part of the package to help customers manage their debts and payments more effectively.
Lastly, if you have a number of credit payment to make each month, these need to be prioritised in terms of importance – but remember this does not mean prioritising the ones you want to pay off first, it means tackling the payments that are accruing the highest levels of interest.