With raising a deposit being the main hurdle to getting onto the property ladder for most first time buyers, money mastery is clearly a key topic.
If you have tried to raise a deposit and failed or are raising a deposit and finding it an uphill battle, chances are you are failing on some fundamental money rule.
This blog takes a look at an eclectic mix of steps, actions and practices around money which should improve your ability to manage your money and save towards a house deposit or any other big ticket financial goal.
1. Set a budget and keep to it
Setting a budget and keeping to it is so important it may be the only thing you need to do to meet your savings target.
Decide your essential expenditure and never exceed the total you set each month. You will have a better chance of doing that if you use a budgeting app on your smart phone and check your bank balances daily.
There are many budgeting apps including Mint, Pocket Guard, YNAB and Wally.
2. View all your accounts in one place
With the launch of Open Banking earlier this year, there are a growing number off apps, such as Money Hub and Money Dashboard – enabling you to see all or most of your accounts in one place.
These apps give you the power of considering your bank, savings and credit card accounts side by side and should empower you to budget better as well as improve your understanding of your finances, helping you to make better decisions, protecting and growing your wealth more efficiently.
3. Save first
Once you have done your budget, you will know how much you are able to save each month.
Don’t wait until the end of the month before you bank your savings. Automate your savings to leave your current account for a deposit account as soon as your earnings hit your account.
4. Aim to eliminate discretionary spending
At least during the period you are saving for a house deposit, aim to eliminate discretionary or non-essential spending.
Essential spending is on needs, non-essential spending is on wants. The very nature of non-essential spending means that it is spending you should be able to forego without too much pain.
5. Build a realistic budget
One reason why your budgeting may fail is that it is not realistic.
It is especially important to include an element for unexpected items; your budget should therefore include a generous contingency.
6. Grow income
You can ease the pressure on your budget by looking to add income at every opportunity – for instance by doing overtime or taking a second job.
However, it is crucial not to use extra income as an excuse to spend more. Extra income should boost your contingency fund with the rest saved.
7. Look after the pennies
It is tempting to think small sums don’t matter in the greater scheme of things.
You may think spending a few pennies on branded goods at the supermarket each week is not a biggie.
However, added together those pennies could come to a few pounds each week and a few hundred pounds each year.
8. Do you really need to buy new?
New stuff, whatever it is, comes at a premium price and its value almost always drops the minute you take it home.
If you can buy second-hand without detriment, it makes financial sense to do so.
9. Make your savings work
With savings rates at historic lows, it is especially important to identify the best interest rates for your savings.
Use price comparison websites to find the best deals.
10. Avoid impulse spending
It is easy to spoil your budgeting hard work by having a sudden blow-out where you decide to splash the cash in some wanton act of impulse spending.
Basically, don’t do it!
Only carry the amount of cash you need and keep your cards well out of reach except for essential budgeted expenditure.
11. Source the best deals for regular household expenditure
Spending only on essential items is good, but that alone doesn’t make you perfect at budgeting.
You also need to source the lowest priced essential items. That is particularly important with potentially expensive items like gas, electricity, telephone, mobile, broadband, paid TV and insurance.
12. Regularly review your budget and savings
Review your budget and savings at least every 3 months, even if you are meeting your goals successfully.
On a review, identify any issues or opportunities. Could you spend less on some essential items? Could you increase the amount of savings each month? Do you need to find extra income sources to prevent foreseeable problems?
Are you spending on non-essentials and kidding yourself that you are not?
13. Find an accountability partner
A really powerful and effective way to master money is to have an accountability partner – someone you can work with to achieve your money objectives.
Your spouse or life partner is of course the ideal person. However if you are single, it is important to find a friend or colleague who can help you keep on the straight and narrow.
14. Learn the magic of moderation
Being able to keep to your spending targets, week in week out, is about developing a “moderation mindset” when it comes to spending.
It is about looking on spending in general as wrong, bad or foolish.
Where spending is unavoidable, your primary goal should be to keep it to the absolute minimum – not so as to deprive yourself and family of any essential, but to ensure that non-essentials never get a look in… at least not until you have achieved your savings goal.
15. You just need to say “no”
One thing that will often knock you off your financial objective is the inability to say “no”.
All the time you are going to face requests or situations which can lead to you messing up your budget…
You are going to be asked to go on that night out or that holiday. The more expensive item of clothing is going to look better.
You are going to want to order that takeaway because you can’t be bothered to cook. You are going to want to take that taxi rather than wait for the bus.
You will need to learn how to say “no” – no to anything which is going to spoil your budgetary hard work. You may not find it easy at first, but in time it is bound to get easier and your savings greater.
Do you have any money smart tips that you would like to share? Please leave your comments below.
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Rebel Property Coach
My website is: www.rebelpropertycoach.com