Spring has officially sprung and what better time of year to tidy up both the house and your life than now? When this time of year rolls around we are all so eager to empty out our wardrobe and de-clutter the playroom, but why not focus that energy on your finances too?
We can all admit that we could try that little bit harder to be more careful with our finances so why not use this changing of the season as the perfect excuse to spring clean your finances.
We’ve conjured up a list of the best tips that will help you cut costs and save for all those important life events in no time.
1: Stick to a monthly budget
Sticking to a monthly budget is one of the best ways to avoid splurging on nonsense you don’t need. However, it is important to treat each month individually as a variety of different events will crop up like birthdays, Communions or weddings.
We all know some months are busier than others so don’t feel pressured to set the same budget each month.
September is likely to be more pricey than February so give yourself a bigger allowance for months like that. We all know how expensive back-to-school season is!
2: Avoid the ‘live for today’ lifestyle
It’s great to be spontaneous and live on the wild side of life every so often but it won’t seem so great when you check your bank account to find a hell of a lot less money than you were expecting. One of the biggest mistakes parents make is to splurge as they would have done in their younger years.
Unfortunately, we need to accept the fact that there are numerous additional costs that come with having a family - from more food to buy, to more team members coming along on family adventures.
It’s time to stop splurging on the unnecessary and investing in what really matters like your child’s school books or a new car for the family.
3: Saving is key
And we’re not just talking about that jam jar that is sitting pretty on the kitchen counter with a few coppers and fivers inside! It is vital to have numerous saving accounts for different reasons.
Having short-term and long-term savings is essential to avoid any financial woes. Firstly set up an easily accessible bank account with a minimum of 3 - 6 months monthly household expenses in it, to ensure that if you or your partner need to take time off work for any reason the household bills and living expenses can continue to be paid.
As parents, we experience each momentous life event with our kids, including their first day of school, their Communion, Confirmation, their school graduation, their first day of college and their college graduation. These events are full of joy but they also come with quite the hefty price tag.
Start putting money aside for upcoming events like birthday parties, back-to-school season and weekend adventures in a short-term savings account.
Seek advice about setting up long-term savings policies for more costly things like your child’s college fees. There are options other than bank deposits for longer term saving, in order to try to ensure your money works harder for you.
Creating a savings goal is a great way to keep you motivated, especially on the days when you feel like spending that money on something you want but don’t need.
4: Review your covers
We hate to think of the worst happening, but it is always best to be prepared just in case. Ensuring that you have protection policies is one move you just can’t skip when spring cleaning your finances.
They will greatly reduce the financial impact of a horrid situation, like getting injured and being unable to work.
If you are diagnosed with a serious illness then having Specified Serious Illness insurance pays you a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with one of the specific illnesses or disabilities that your policy covers.
Separately, Income Protection cover will pay you an income if you cannot work due to accident or sickness.
Both of these types of protection offer huge support especially in terms of paying your mortgage, bills and education costs.
Mortgage Protection is life insurance that will pay off your mortgage should you die prematurely during the term of the mortgage. But usually that is all it will cover. So, whilst it is obvious that having mortgage protection is something every single one of us needs regardless of your status, it is especially important that as parents you have adequate additional life cover to ensure your family are taken care of if you were to die prematurely.
5: Start a pension
We know you have no intention of retiring any day soon, but having a pension fund is one of the wisest moves to make and the sooner you start it the better.
There are so many reasons why you should start a pension - one of them is that trying to manage on the State pension alone is not easy. Another, is that there are huge tax savings if you contribute to one!
In retirement, you may struggle to adapt to having a tighter income so having your own pension will help support you and will allow you to continue living a lifestyle you enjoy.
Remember that the sooner you start a pension the better. You can start one at any stage but you’ll have to pay more into it the later you leave it.
So, plan your retirement! – review your pension if you have one / start one if you don’t and don’t forget to seek advice and review old pensions from previous employments.