Money is so integral to everyday life, but something that we rarely pay much attention to unless we are struggling financially. Few of us can admit to really planning our finances, yet if we did we would surely reap the benefits. Financial planning sounds pretty dull and is something that few of us feel we have the spare time for. However, it doesn’t need to involve heavy sums and hours of paperwork. Freeing yourself from financial apathy could be as simple as making a few slight tweaks to your daily routine. We all want more disposable income to spend on the big things in life, such as holidays, the latest gadgets and important life events. Here is how you can enjoy your hard earned cash to its full potential.
What is financial apathy?
Financial apathy is the mindset that your finances are beyond your control. You might feel like your circumstances are less than desirable but believe that it’s not your fault. You may feel like a victim of your upbringing, you may be unhappy with your salary or you might simply dismiss the state of your bank balance as a result of you not being great at organising your finances. People with financial apathy aren’t always struggling to make ends meet, they may be pretty flash with their cash at times, they may appear very generous and affluent. Financial apathy simply means that you don’t put the time or effort into managing your finances. You spend what you like, until there is nothing left. Around payday you are no doubt a little thrifty. This sort of behaviour is common in young people but can easily carry on into later life if it isn’t tackled head on.
What can I do to fight financial apathy?
The first part of fighting financial apathy is realising its presence in your life. The next step is realising that you want to change it. People who avoid dealing with their finances often do so because they don’t realise the impact of their behaviour. It often feels easier to just ignore your bank balance, but it will eventually come home to roost. Once you’ve got into the habit of spending what you like when you like, it can feel pretty dull and restrictive to start planning things out and keeping proper records. Once you’ve experienced the reality that your finances are not static, that they can change and your circumstances can improve, then you’ll never look back.
How can I improve my personal finances?
- Track your spending
If you suffer from financial apathy, then you won’t really realise how much you are spending. Look back over past bank records and add up how much you spend on luxuries each month. Use this figure to calculate how much is spent on non-essentials over the course of a year. Could that figure equate to a trip away? If so, how far would you get? A really nice holiday could be just the incentive you need to stop wasting money on things such as morning coffee and work lunches (which can be made more cheaply at home).
- Keep records
To keep yourself in line, as well as keeping track of what you spend it can be useful to create a spreadsheet dedicated to personal finance. This doesn’t need to be time consuming or costly. In fact there are plenty of free apps out there that mean you can tally up your expenditure on the go. Many people find that they are less likely to spend money on rubbish if they have to make of record of everything they spend.
- Question every purchase
Think of something a little more substantial that you really desire or desperately need. See this as your carrot. Every time you go to buy something, stop for a second and ask yourself if you really need it or if you just want it. If it is necessary then allow yourself to buy it, if you just want it then think about your carrot and put your money away. You could even make a little list of all the things you wanted to buy and save them for birthdays, special occasions and treats.
- Take control of your bills
Now is the time to ensure that you have online banking that you can access easily from your phone. This means that you can check how much is in your account at any given time. It is also vital that you know which bills come out when. Look back over your bank records and make a note of all of your bills, including the amount and what day of the month they are taken out. Be sure to refer to this list at least once a week. This will help you to plan and will save any nasty shocks. If all of the bills seem to be clumped together then you may want to make a few phone calls to even things out a little. Ideally your household bills will coincide with payday.
- Find alternative activities
Bulk buying on household items is a great way to save money, items such as cleaning products and toilet roll work out much cheaper when bought in bulk. Also think about social activities or gym memberships, can you cut any corners there? Could you use a combination of running and YouTube tutorials to replace your pricey gym sessions? Could you host movie nights at home instead of paying out for cinema tickets, or try a pot luck supper with friends instead of dining out.
Moving forward into a financially healthy future
The most valuable thing that you can do with regards to your personal finances, is make the decision to put aside some money and stop spending on things that you don’t need. Put aside a block of time to go through all your accounts, find a way to track your future spending and look into ways to save. After that, a day by day attitude can be hugely beneficial. Take each day as it comes, and by the end of your first month you should see some changes to your bank balance. Hopefully, you already have a savings account in place where you can invest your extra cash. Within a matter of months you’ll have a nice sum of money growing. The richest people aren’t always the ones who make the most money, but often the ones who are careful with how they spend it.
Combining these five good habits can set you along a long term path towards financial wellbeing but if you are in need of a steppingstone, a short term loan may be a solution to help you on your journey back into financial wellbeing.
This article has been brought to you by Uncle Buck Finance LLP.