Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been taught about the importance of saving and the value of money.
When I was 8-years-old, I went to Disney World Florida. However, for the 12 months leading up to it, my dad made a promise to me – if I saved £100 to spend, he would double it. I kept my allowance, did chores and anything else a child can do to earn cash.
My uncle gave me the last £20 I needed and sure enough, I had plenty of bucks to spend on autograph books, cuddly toys and pressed coins. You’d think that this would have made me an expert at saving – it didn’t.
While I’ll admit that I’m pretty good at saving now and probably put away more of my salary than most people my age, I’ve made more than a few mistakes along the way.
Money has always been a taboo subject to talk about, but I think that only makes people more likely to bury their head in the sand and not face their problems head-on.
In an effort to open a conversation and help, here are some money mistakes we all make – and how to be better in the future.
1. Not opening a separate savings account
People find it insane when they find out that I have more than three bank accounts. Some think the idea of having more than one is weird.
Keeping everything in one account is suicidal. Yes, you’ll tell yourself that you’re capable of separating your spending money and your savings – but you’re not.
Opening up one or two savings accounts helps you visually see your finances grow. Having a savings account for ‘life stuff’ and for ‘fun stuff’ is the best way to do it in my opinion. Instead of spending your house deposit on festival tickets, you can save for both without having to sacrifice either
2. Saving at the end of the month
I’ve heard too many people tell me that they save whatever’s left in the bank at the end of the month. This is a sure-fire way to end up with £0 to your name.
You need to create a budget and save at least 5% of your wages. Everyone has different situations, but keeping funds aside for emergencies is imperative to being a grown-ass human.
There’s nothing wrong with putting whatever is left the day before you get paid into your savings account, in fact, that’s an awesome idea. But, you need to do it at the start of the month (or whenever payday is) if you want to ensure financial security.
3. Saving too much money
On the flip side, have you ever saved at the beginning of the month and then a week later, you’re transferring the money back to your current account? Have you also done this every single month? Yeah, so have I.
If you can’t live on your assigned budget, you’re either spending too much or putting too much away. Both need to be assessed because those morning trips to Costa might be throwing your spending out of whack. Bye bye vanilla iced lattes, I’ll see you on Fridays.
However, there is absolutely no point in putting away 50% of your wages if you’re only going to end up with 10% left. Be honest with yourself and if you can’t afford to be saving so much – stop.
Consistently putting 10% away is better than constantly transferring money every other day.
4. Not looking at our accounts
Do. Not. Bury. Your. Head. In. The. Sand. EVER.
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to your finances. We have the technology to check our bank accounts at any hour with just the scan of a fingerprint.
Check your account every single day. Not only will this help you avoid spunking all your money before payday, but it can also help you to detect fraud.
It’s not fun seeing your balance in the negatives, but it’s something you have to get over if you’re ever going to get into the positives.
5. Living off of your credit card/overdraft
It baffles me how people do this. Your overdraft and credit card limit is not your money. It is not an extension of your paycheck. It is the bank’s, and they will get it back, eventually.
Forever being in your overdraft and then paying it off every month is the worst way to live. What happens if you lose your job? Your last payday will leave you with £0 – not a good situation to be in.
Using your credit card occasionally (to build up your credit or insure your purchases) and dipping into your overdraft is not the end of the world. But constantly living on borrowed money is only going to bite you on the arse later down the line.
6. Buying things you can’t afford
We’re all guilty of this. We all like nice things and think we ‘deserve’ a treat, but not at the expense of your financial health. It’s good to splurge on yourself every now and then, but stop buying things that aren’t in your budget.
Eating out every single day is expensive. Designer bags are expensive. Cocktails are expensive (sob). If you’re living a life that is above and beyond what you can realistically afford, then you need to reassess.
I don’t care what your friends are doing. They’re not going to reimburse your life savings after a night of 2-4-1 cocktails in the Slug and Lettuce.
Be realistic, be selfish and be sensible.
What is your best financial tip? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @amyjmcdonnell 🐦