Navigating Your Finances – A Life Skill We Can All Learn

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financial planning, spring cleaning, saving money

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The following is a guest post. Enjoy!

There’s a constant stream of news stories these days about how busy most of us are in this global, connected, high-speed ultramodern 21st Century world. We find ourselves working longer hours and having less time to spend during our leisure time. One result of this is that it can be all too easy to put off chores and tasks that we really know we should tackle but just never seem to find the right time to get started on.

Financial spring cleaning

In much the same way as tending a garden needs a bit of TLC on a regular basis to stop it from becoming overgrown and out of control, our finances also need a regular focus of attention to help make sure everything’s on the right track.

In the broader sense, this can mean looking at all aspects of your personal finances. And, it is just incredible when you start to see where savings can be made. Something as simple as switching from one brand to another, or cancelling an under-used contract for a gym or DVD rental can claw back some much needed cash from the inevitable monthly expenditure. It doesn’t need to be about living frugally – it’s more about always keeping an eye on where the money goes and how it could be used to better effect.

Assessing your financial products

As creatures of habit, many of us will stick with a provider simply out of familiarity. In fact, it’s probably quite normal to use, say, the same utilities company for your entire adult life. But doing so can mean spending more than is necessary – if you shop around, there may well be deals and offers that will suit your budget and requirements better.

The same goes for the financial products that you have. Credit card interest rates differ, and it’s often the case that transferring your balance to another card can mean having an introductory period which is interest free – all the better to pay the money back without added cost.

It can be very useful to set a date for your financial spring clean – a day or evening when you look at everything from your current account and any credit cards or loans as well as savings accounts too. The latter is a particularly interesting area of personal finance – and even a cursory look at the savings section of sites like Money Saving Expert (MSE) demonstrate that the interest on saving can vary dramatically from one provider to another. One example MSE gives is of an ISA that offers 0.1% interest, which as MSE highlights is not only pretty low – it ‘underpays the market leader by £450’ – which is a lot of interest going unearned for those who have ISAs with that level of interest paid on them.

Finding products to suit your requirements

But, it isn’t all about reassessing the products you do hold. Having a close look at your finances also means seeking out any products you don’t currently hold that could enhance your life, save you money, or provide contingencies for unforeseen circumstances. The benefits of health insurance, for example, can bring about serious benefits in terms of peace of mind and allow you to get on with the important things in life without worrying.

Bringing it all together

While it may initially seem daunting to haul all those policy documents out of the desk drawer and to compare providers and so on, it’s one of those things where getting started is the only really challenging bit. Once you’re looking at the detail and seeing where money can be saved or more usefully spent, a sudden sensation often takes hold – and it’s the realization that you have grasped more control over your finances. And to go back to the garden metaphor I’ve used above, this means that you’ll be able to nurture and prune even more effectively as time goes on – and hopefully everything will be rosy.

How about you all? Is there anything in your personal finances that you working on optimizing in the near future?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

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