5 ways to manage your debt | post-christmas debt tips

This weeks post-Christmas debt tips comes to you from desk of the beautiful Francesca at From Pennies to Pounds. Francesca helps young women take control of their money through budgeting, and shares ways of earning extra money that can be done from home around the kids, even with little spare time.  So read on for her tips on how to manage that post-Christmas debt.

5 ways to manage your post-christmas debt

5 ways to manage your debt | post-christmas debt tips

Christmas is an amazing time of the year, and so much fun!

But is it just me, or does the cost slowly creep up and up, until you have no idea how much you have actually spent?

There’s the wrapping paper, the cards, the presents – oh my the presents, the school nativity play, the school trips, Christmas jumper days, trips to see family and friends around the country, the Christmas tree, decorations, and don’t even get me started on the food.

If you’re nodding your head in agreement whilst reading this, don’t worry – you aren’t alone.

At the beginning of the year last year, around 7.9 million Britons said that they were going to be behind in their bills after overspending at Christmas.

37% of the UK said that they were going to put Christmas on the credit card, with the average amount of debt in the UK being £8000 per person. (Source)

When you’re paying off debt, you have less money for the things that truly matter to you. From personal experience, paying off your debt gives you a sense of freedom – like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – I’m saying it’s going to be worth it.

With that in mind, I’ve put together some tips to help you pay off your post-Christmas debt:

Add Up All Of Your Debt

I know, it’s a pretty scary thought that you’re going to see it all written down in black and white – but that’s why you need to do it.

Putting this step off is not going to help anyone but the credit companies get more money off you in interest. Would you rather have your money, or them?

The debt is already there, it just needs to be written down, so that a plan of attack can be made against it.

Don’t worry though – once you start looking at it and working out how to get rid of it, the wheels will be set in motion and you’ll be on your way to living your best life ever.

A good place to start is to look at your online banking. Head to the section where your direct debits and standing orders are, as your monthly debt payments will be listed there.

Go through your paperwork, your emails, your bank statements – and write down all of the companies on there and the monthly payments you are making.

The next step will be to find out the interest rate, if the interest rate changes at any point, and how long you have left to pay on it.

If you aren’t sure about this, or can’t find your paperwork – give the credit companies a call and find out from them.

Try To Reduce The Interest Rates

Once you’ve found out the interest rates, it’s time to see if you can reduce them at all.

The interest is what makes debt so hard to pay off, and it’s so frustrating when you end up paying back way more than what you originally borrowed.

Believe it or not, the credit companies can be more helpful than you think, as they do want you to pay off your debt (although of course they want the interest from you).

So with that in mind, speak to them. Ring up your lenders, and tell them you are planning on paying down your debt and tell them that you want your interest rate reduced (tell them nicely, but still tell them. Don’t ask – tell).

It’s also worth looking at if you can get a 0% balance transfer. I did this when paying off my debt, and it made a huge difference. But please think about this carefully before going ahead with it.

The reason that I say to be a bit cautious is because getting a 0% balance is taking out a new line of credit.

Also, the 0% will run out after a certain amount of time, so this is also something that is worth checking. Will the new interest rate be higher than what you are currently paying, and will it mathematically make sense?

Money Saving Expert is a great resource for looking at the various 0% balance transfers that are available, and they will check if you will be eligible without a hard credit footprint.

Reduce Expenses

This may not sound like the most fun thing in the world to do, but it doesn’t have to be as bad as you may think – it can be really freeing, and show you which things you value.

It’s important to realise that this is temporary as well – this is just to help you pay off your debt and get back on track.

A great way to reduce expenses is to create a budget. When you are creating your budget, write down all of your expenses.

Look at your online banking under the direct debit/standing order section. This will show you your fixed expenses that always come out, such as mortgage/rent, utility bills, internet etc.

You can also go back through your bank statements and receipts to see the variable expenses each month – the expenses which vary in price. These could be your grocery shopping, petrol etc.

Once you’ve got all of your expenses up and together, it’s time to look at how they can be decreased.

A common mistake at this stage is to only look at the small expenses. I want you to look at all of them – as you can get some quick, big wins with the larger expenses.

Things like your mortgage – can you get a cheaper rate? With your utility bills – go on comparison websites, see which you can get for less, but with the same service.

Food shopping is an expense that is easy to reduce, even if you want to eat the same things, by good organisation.

Meal planning is a big help here, and it’s a lot quicker and easier than it sounds. Just make a list of everything that you usually eat (we all tend to generally eat the same meals over and over) and that’s the start of your meal plan.

Examples could be: chilli, pasta bake, pizza, steak and chips, burgers, chicken and rice, lasagna, risotto, curry and so on.

The benefits of writing it down and figuring out which meals you’ll be having each week (you can mix them up, they don’t have to be rigid), is that you know what you will need to buy.

Heading to the grocery shop without a plan means coming out with a lot of stuff, but not much for making meals out of!

No Spend Days

I am personally a big advocate of no spend challenges, because they can help to shake things up a bit.

It’s not about not spending any money – it’s about figuring out what is important to you, and noticing your habits and triggers.

A No Spend Day is a day where you don’t spend anything – apart from of course essential spendings such as paying your bills.

Unplanned things are banned – things that you get without really thinking about it, like some snacks from the corner shop, some clothes, impulse purchases on Amazon when you’re having a random browse.

We’ve all done it, but if you are determined to pay off your debt, this is something that will really, really help you.

The key to having a successful No Spend challenge is to be prepared. As much preparation and organisation as you can do!

Things such as making a packed lunch every day, taking snacks and water with you when you pop out anywhere (especially with the kids), meal plan, a schedule and routine that will let you know what you are doing that day.

If you end up spending money, please don’t just throw in the towel – it’s not about who is the best at not spending any money, but it’s to look at your habits and the triggers that are causing you to randomly overspend.

When you can see the things that cause you to spend your money on things you didn’t even want, you can then prepare ways to prevent this in the future. It’s all about becoming self-aware and working on new habits.

Earn Extra Money

So as we mentioned before, when it comes to budgeting, you ideally want to have more income, less expenses when it comes to tackling your debt (or just in general!).

Firstly, take a look at your current job. Is there any overtime that you can pick up? Speak to your manager and let them know that you are keen.

Could you get a second-job? I worked as an admin before at a company where we had an NHS cleaning contract, and there were always jobs coming up – early morning, late evening etc. It’s worth looking on Indeed and other job sites to see if there are any that you could fit in.

There are a bunch of other ways that you can make money, such as:

  • Survey sites, such as Swagbucks
  • Using OhMyDosh
  • Pet sitting
  • Blogging
  • Freelance writing
  • Virtual assistant work
  • Selling your stuff
  • Re-selling on eBay or Amazon
  • Selling your creative makes on Etsy
  • Mystery shopping/dining

Earning extra money was a game changer for me when I paid off my debt. It allowed me to pay it off much quicker than I would have done without it, and introduced me to some great side hustles which I still continue today.

When it comes to paying off debt, it’s 100% possible to pay it all off, even if it seems like an intimidating number. You will have to put some work into it, but it will be worth it.

———-

As I’ve already mentioned Francesca helps young women over at frompenniestopounds.com to take control of their money through so many ways and encourages you on how to pay off debt and live the life of your dreams – the goal is more. More Money. More Time. More Living.

You can also find Francesca over at:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Share

Don’t borrow more to pay a credit card bill | post-christmas debt tips

Our first post in this months blog series on debt post-Christmas we have the lovely Sara Williams.  Sara is a debt adviser who writes about debt and credit ratings on her personal blog, Debt Camel so if you do need any guidance or help on debt then this is your lady!

Why you should never borrow more to pay a credit card bill

Don't borrow more to pay a credit card bill | post-christmas debt tips

January 2019 will be very difficult for millions of families in Britain. You may have been paid earlier in December than normal, so the money has to last longer, but then the catalogue and credit card bills start to arrive. 

Don’t panic!

If you realise you can’t pay the minimums to your cards and loans this month, this may feel like a disaster. 

It’s obviously not good, but don’t get panicked into doing something silly. The worst thing you can do is rush into signing up to an IVA – that’s a sort of insolvency like going bankrupt. It is being mis-sold to far too many people as the IVA firms make big fees from setting them up.

But the next worst thing is much less dramatic and may even feel sensible… it isn’t.

What you should NEVER do to pay off your credit card bill

“Rob Peter to pay Paul!”

Have you heard of this? It means you shouldn’t get deeper into debt in one place to repay another debt.

It’s folly to take out expensive debt such as a payday loan or borrowing from Provident. The interest rates are even higher than on your credit card or catalogue. It may let you pay January’s bills, but February is going to look a lot worse.

Guarantor loans are even worse than payday loan. Their interest rates may look a bit more reasonable but they can quickly be unaffordable as the loans go on for a long time. Then you are trapped, unable to look at sensible debt solutions because you would harm your guarantor. Avoid at all costs! 

Even another credit card isn’t a good option as it makes the next month harder.

What about a cheap loan?

If you have a good credit score and not too much debt, there are some good unsecured loans on offer from the major banks in 2019.

Anything under 7% looks like a big improvement on those credit card and catalogue rates. Sometimes this refinancing works well but you have to be determined or it can be a disaster. You need to close all your card and catalogue accounts apart from one and resolve not to use that for anything unless you can repay it in full at the end of the month.

Too many people keep accounts open “just in case”. But there is always the temptation to spend on them. If you do this, come January 2020 you will have high card bills arriving every month and you also have the loan repayments for years. 

Don't borrow more to pay a credit card bill | post-christmas debt tips

Or 0% offers?

0% balance transfer offers are a great way to reduce the interest you pay. But the minimum payments on these cards are often much the same as on your current cards, so although one will save interest (good!) it won’t cut the amount you have to pay each month. 

Don’t drift into more debt!

If you have remaining credit on a card and your overdraft, you may not realise until the end of the month that you only paid the high credit card bill by paying for food, or utility bills on other credit. 

Do it once and it’s not a huge problem. But if it happens a few times, soon you will be running out of credit and your underlying debts have gone up, not down. So keep an eye out for this.

Your better choices

Rather than carry on getting deeper into debt, it’s better to take positive action. If you have just overdone Xmas a bit, have a very cheap January. Check out all the different ways to reduce your food bills. Decide on no new clothes for adults for 6 months. Take 20 minutes to switch your gas and electric to a cheaper supplier etc.

If your situation is worse than that, call up the creditors and ask for an affordable payment arrangement with interest frozen. If this feels too scary, talk to a good debt adviser. Your local Citizens Advice can help or ring National Debtline if you would prefer to use the phone.

 

 

Big thanks to Sara for providing this extremely relevant and informative post for our post-Christmas debt series.  I have no doubt it would’ve been of massive help to anyone who is maybe a little worried on how they are going to get through January after overspending during the festive period & December.

As I’ve already mentioned you can find Sara over at debtcamel.co.uk but you can also find her over on Facebook @debtcamel or Twitter again @debtcamel so be sure to go check her out!

Thanks again Sara!

PIN FOR LATER

Don't borrow more to pay a credit card bill | post-christmas debt tips

Share

Energy prices & tariffs explained… can you save yourself some money?

It’s cut your energy day today so I’m wanting to take full opportunity to talk to you about energy tariffs in the hope that I can give you some info that you didn’t already know that may save yourself some money on your next energy bill (or two!)

National cut energy cost day

Energy prices & tariffs explained... can you save yourself some money?

What energy tariff are you on?

Do you even know what type of tariff you are on when it comes to your energy?  I know I didn’t until a couple of years ago.

It took me nearly 10 years to change my energy supplier for the first time because I thought it was just too difficult I had no desire of wanting to know!

You can check your most recent bill or log on to your energy provider to find out what your tariff is but once you do that it’s likely it means nothing!



Energy tariffs

Variable

Variable rates mean the price of your energy could go both up and down.  Your energy prices can go up or down – with no end date you’ll never have to renew your contract and aren’t tied in.

Fixed

This type of tariff guarantees the price of your energy for a set period of time.  After this time you’re free to switch and potentially save again, but if you leave early, you’ll probably be charged an exit fee.

Fixed rates are helpful for keeping control of your budget and chances are the rates you’ll pay will probably be lower than those of the standard tariff.  Fixed rate tariffs are designed to protect you from energy price rises.

When your fixed rate tariff ends you will need to find another fixed rate tariff or your provider will switch you over to a variable rate (see above).

I have recently changed my energy provider and I too am on a fixed, same amount per month, tariff with Bulb.

Energy prices & tariffs explained... can you save yourself some money?

Capped

Capped tariffs mean that the cost of your energy per unit (KwH) is capped at a certain point.  Prices can be capped in two different ways:

  • Capped prices per KwH – where the maximum price is set per unit of power consumed.
  • Capped prices in comparison to another price – where the maximum difference between one tariff compared another one is fixed in advance, for example: the tariff (1) capped rate will be no more than x-% over tariff (2)

It’s worth noting that prices can go down as well as up however the rates or price won’t ever exceed the agreed limit.

Don’t be fooled that it will cap your monthly payment per month however it doesn’t cap the total cost of your payments at the end of the month and it isn’t usually the cheapest tariff; this depends on how much gas or electricity you use.  If you want to cap your monthly payment you want to check out a fixed tariff.

Other

Unlimited

A few energy providers have what are described as ‘unlimited’ tariffs, where you pay a fixed amount each month, regardless of how much energy you use.

However prices are based on what you used the year before so they’re not cheap.  These are one-year deals and the price depends on what you’ve used in the past.

They’re only good if you are likely to use much more and are worried about the bill – for example, you’ve now retired and are now at home all day compared to the previous year.

If your consumption does increase during your first year, your direct debit is likely to be higher if you go for the same deal again.

Duel fuel

Duel fuel (although technically not a tariff it is a way to save a few pennies) is where you get both your gas and electricity from one supplier.  

Suppliers may also give you a discount in order to get double your custom.

It’s also worth checking what deals you could get if you signed up for gas and electricity separately instead of getting dual fuel from one provider – those savings might outweigh any discount you’re offered for both.

Pre-payment 

This is the energy equivalent of a PAYG mobile phone. You’ll need to have a pre-payment meter to use it. As the name suggests, you pay for the energy before you use it by topping up the meter online, with a key, card or tokens.

Although it’s usually the most expensive way to pay for your energy but it does give you total control over what you’re using and spending.

Solar panels tariffs: Feed-in.

This type of tariff applies to what you get paid by energy companies, rather than you having to pay them. It’s only applicable if you generate your own power, e.g. through solar panels.

Green tariffs

Green tariffs, also known as ‘eco’ or renewable tariffs, are those that whereby the amount of energy you use will be ‘given back’ by your supplier to the National Grid in renewable energy. Alternatively, they may supply your home with 100% renewable energy, a mix of renewable and non-renewable or they may contribute to environmental projects instead.

Green tariffs aren’t necessarily the most expensive however their price isn’t their selling point and they may cost more than the cheapest tariff so double check before you sign up.

Economy

With the economy tariffs which are usually followed by a number mean that you’ll typically get cheaper ‘off peak’ energy for either seven or ten hours a day.

Economy 7 usually has its off-peak hours around midnight and 7am, whereas Economy 10 spreads its cheapest hours throughout the day at set times.

Off-peak energy can be cheap, but whatever you use outside of these times will be charged at a much higher cost.

It’s likely you’ll get a smart meter to monitor rates.

This could be helpful if you can arrange to use energy at off-peak times or those in your household are shift workers for example.  But if you know you won’t change your habits to make the most of the discounted rates, think before you switch.

If you have any questions on your energy or want some more information on ways to save money then feel free to check out some of my previous posts below and if you want to know if you can save some money on your energy bills then get in touch with your energy provider to find out your tariff and head over to uSwitch now.

I hope that helps!

Kirsty x

Share

Free budget planner | your first step to financially surviving January & 2019!

Were you one of the many thousands that said you’re ‘not going to crazy this Christmas?’  That you weren’t going to overspend this year or get yourself into debt at the expense of Christmas?

Having that mindset is brilliant and should be certainly something you continue with year in year out however for one reason or another it doesn’t always work out like that does it.

How to financially survive January and beyond?

Free budget planner & step one to financially surviving January

Although we budget for christmas all year around we have struggled a little this year with other things that require our attention (or rather money!).  It’s not always that simple to not get into debt at christmas or being that overwelmed with the things you feel you HAVE to buy that you just don’t enjoy it.

Throughout January I’m sharing with you some guest posts from fellow personal finance bloggers who either have experienced debt themselves or have the knowledge and experience to help you deal with any extra credit cards, overdrafts or loans you’ve racked up over the festive period.

Free budget planner & step one to financially surviving January

To get you started on the right foot and in preparation for some of the amazing content you are going to be receiving, today I’ve decided to share with you my monthly budget planner.  

I share this in the hope it will help you get your head around your money as far as getting down on paper your income and expenditure and help you manage your finances a little better.

This can be used by anyone not just those that are feeling the pinch of christmas; having your figures in front of you and in black and white can also keep you out of debt or help you work your way out of debt if you are currently in debt.

A  budget planner allows you to see where you are overspending too and where most of your money is going.

 



 


Since leaving my ‘guaranteed-income-every-month’ corporate job I realised we needed to look at our spends.  

The mindset of being able to see exactly what is going in and out of your bank every month helps massively and if after everything is calculated your expenditure is higher than your income then you need to stop, think and do something about it.

If the reason for this is due to debt repayment then these up and coming debt related series of blog posts throughout the whole of January will 100%  be of use to you (another reason to sign up to our newsletter and receive your FREE budget planner is to be notified of these as and when they go live too!) 

If you have any questions or need any guidance on the budget planner just give me a shout or drop me an email  and I will be happy to help.

Thanks for reading & I’d love to hear how you get on!

Kirsty x

PIN FOR LATER

Free budget planner & step one to financially surviving January

Share

My DIY Christmas garland bargain & pre christmas sales shopping!

Last week I posted over on my Instagram this years table DIY Christmas garland… did you see it? I’m still in love with my most prized Christmas creation! 😉

Pre Christmas sales shopping!

My DIY Christmas garland bargain & pre christmas sales shopping!

I’ve been looking for something like this for a while… I very nearly picked up a wreath to cute up when I saw one in Aldi’s Christmas Special Buys a good month or so but I didn’t have the money!

I’m glad I didn’t though because this one is so much much better AND I made it all by myself!

My DIY Christmas garland bargain & pre christmas sales shopping!

As they do every year B&Q start to reduce their Christmas stock in the 2 weeks prior to Christmas day so I started with a 3ft £3 B&Q Christmas tree for the foliage.. taking it out of the box, laying it down and spreading out only the top layer of the branches.

Obviously it still had the shape of a Christmas tree but nothing that a trim and extensions would solve (what I cut off the bottom I added to the top!) 😉

My DIY Christmas garland bargain & pre christmas sales shopping!

We bought out current Christmas tree from B&Q in the sale a few years back. We had even put the old one up but after seeing one we really liked just a week before Xmas we ending up taking the old one down and replaced it pretty damn close to Christmas!

The decorations on the wreath came to max £10. They too were discounted (not by much but at least something!) and they all worked perfectly with the green foliage and my already gold table decorations.

So note to self; remember to keep popping into your nearest B&Q in the run up to the big day for some Christmas bargains or check them out online. You never know what you might pick up and I think you will be pleasantly surprised that is for sure!

Thanks for reading!

Kirsty x

Share

Why you should never pay to click and collect!

A Facebook notification popped up from a fellow money blogger on Saturday evening as I was out admiring the amazing light show in Hull city centre telling me I was in the Daily Mail!  I knew it was coming but I hadn’t been told it was in and boy has it divided the nation!!  Here’s why I feel we should NEVER pay for a click and collect service!

Why you should never pay for a click and collect service?

A couple of weeks ago now I asked to make a comment over on a Facebook group about when people order above and beyond what they need to to avoid paying a delivery charge and I openly admitted to doing exactly that!

It does seem though that the more media outlets it’s reached the more realistic the story has become  as opposed to the original article.  Both The Sun and my own local newspaper have picked up on it too … this wasn’t actually to do with home deliveries though and was with regards to click and collect ONLY!  (Oh & by the way Daily Mail… I’ve never shopped at ASOS so that picture of a delivery note that apparently is copyrighted to me… yeah it’s really not!)

Anyway I digress and it seems I have invented a ‘hack’ !?  Who would’ve known that mentioning something that so many people do day in day out would turn into a ‘hack’?!

Any way my point was that I wholly refuse to pay a delivery charge for something that I am going to collect from a store myself, in my own car, using my own fuel and in my own time.  Why should you?  I mean the large stores will have I have deliveries if not every single day then every other day at least… therefore they are coming anyway – why should we pay for the ‘service’?

Imagine all those who click and collect paying an extra £4 delivery charge and them all being on one truck to the same place… I know thats the case at the Sainsburys near us because it’s the only one in this whole area!

How much money would they be making across the whole country from click and collects alone?!  I dread to think!

Do you know the high street stores that offer free click and collect options and ones that don’t?  Check them out below…

Stores that offer free click and collect

Boots

Wilkos

Asda George

Matalan

Next (they even offer next day collect from store too!)

Superdrug

River Island

Argos (they even sell TU (Sainsburys clothing!) and happily have it in store the very next day to collect!)

Claires accessories

B&Q

Stores that charge for click and collect

Sports Direct

….charge £4.99 to collect HOWEVER do give you a £5 voucher to spend in store which although you do have to pay a delivery charge for YOU going to collect it it you do get it back in another way.

TKMaxx

….charge £1.99 click and collect or free over £50.

Debenhams

…charge £2 for orders under £30

Sainsburys

…charge £3 for orders under £15 of which they say will be ‘next day delivery’ however this is their only option if your order doesn’t come to £15.  If it does go over £15 then it’s free but takes 3-5 working days!

H&M

…charge a massive £3.99 for orders under £15

Why you should never pay for a click and collect service?

I will just add again that this was NOT with regards to groceries or as I’ve already mentioned home deliveries… it is purely click and collect orders where again in my opinion you should NOT have to pay to go collect things yourself when the majority of these stores will have deliveries if not everyday then every other day.

If you want something delivered to your house or you require your goods the next day then I fully expect a surcharge to be added on there and if that is the case chances are you would happily pay for a delivery however if you are content with the delivery times quoted on click and collect and you are passing anyway why should you have to pay more???

I would love to hear what you think; if you are in agreement or not, is there anywhere else who offers the service for free that I’ve not thought of and would you ever be tempted to shop elsewhere because of a delivery charge…. because I know I would!

Thanks for reading!

Kirsty x

Share

6 surprising benefits of shopping locally

Did you know it’s small business Saturday today?  Because of that today I’ve decided to share with you my 6 surprising benefits of shopping locally… some you may already know about but some you might never have even realised!

6 surprising benefits of shopping  locally

Buying locally uses less plastic

Not only do small local businesses tend to use less packaging to keep their prices as low as they possible but plastic is used to protect and preserve products, which can make them cheaper to transport and last longer – and so cheaper for consumers.  Local businesses don’t need to do that; most eateries bake/make fresh goods daily, greengrocers don’t package up their fresh vegetables and cafe’s reuse mugs/cups etc (just to name a few!).

Your money will go back into the local economy

Shopping locally will support your community.  Indirectly your money will be going back into the local economy when you shop and will keep local producers in business.

Create local jobs

If a business is busy & making money then chances are they will soon need to invest some of that money into staff.  These jobs will be taken by people locally.

You get better food

I don’t tend to buy much fruit from supermarkets anymore and spend £6/week on fruit and veg locally instead.  Last month I noticed my local greengrocers didn’t have any swede out on display.  I asked the lady behind the counter and she said they weren’t in season.  My first thought was ‘but Asda have them in year round’ and then it got me thinking.

Why DO Asda have them in year round and HOW do they have them in year round if they’re not actually in season?  Buying foods locally, for example from a greengrocers, will mean they stock what are actually in season; what are ripe & ready to eat.  They won’t sell produce that has been preserved for months before from mass farming tactics or vegetables that aren’t as fresh or rather have the correct amount of vitamins in them that they should because they’ve been harvested a season too early.

You get a better shopping experience

You cannot beat the personal touch of a local business owner who knows the area, knows you and knows the majority of their customers that come through the door by their first name.

6 surprising benefits of shopping  locally

Local business support local charities

There are a lot of local businesses that support specific local charities. When you spend money in their stores you too maybe encouraged to pop your change in the charity box on the counter or notice a sponsor form for Dave to get his head shaved.

So the next time you pass your nearest fruit shop, bakery or haberdashery make it your aim that the next time you need something you head straight there.

Thanks for reading!

Kirsty x

 

Share

How to manage your money as a freelancer [AD]

It’s been 3 months since I wrote my last post on my freelance journey.  It was September 2018 that I officially left my government corporate lifestyle and decided to go all in with my full time freelance virtual assistant business but how is it going? What do I love, what do I hate and most importantly how am I managing my finances.

How to manage your personal finances when freelance

I’ve been blogging for probably around 3 years however I’ve only really been making money from my blog for maybe a year.. if that! The odd bits of extra income above and beyond my regular corporate from both blogging and from offering my services as basically a virtual administrative assistant were lovely; however when you no longer have the luxury of a permanent job paying you the same amount month in month out it does make you more conscious of your money.

What is a freelancer?

If you don’t know what a freelancer is; it’s a person who works as a writer, designer, virtual assistant or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.  For example freelance copywriter would complete a piece of work, submit to a client and bill for their time and efforts, a virtual personal assistant would reply to emails or take telephone calls and again bill the client for the time spent on that specific project.

Although working freelance is a great way to earn a little bit of ‘extra’ cash when you have a bit of ‘extra’ time but it’s you can’t class it as ‘extra’ money when you’re needing that money more so than ever to live off and keep a roof over your head!

There are so many things that didn’t even enter my mind before leaving my permanent employment but the fact that it all happened very quickly was probably a good thing.  Since becoming a self employed virtual assistant and working from home I’m having to ask myself questions constantly and monitor my finances like crazy!

Surprisingly to some, the money element hasn’t necessarily been the biggest anxiety trigger I’ve come across since going freelance but perhaps that’s because I feel I’m getting use to having a variable income and if I earn more brilliant but my aim is to never earn less than I used to earn at my corporate job.

I have a spreadsheet with all my outgoings on but I no longer have a set amount coming in each month so how do I actually manage my money?

Managing my money when self employed

Since leaving school I’ve always known what I’m expected to be paid at the end of every month; I’ve paid and had contributions made by my employer towards my pensions for the past 13 years and even NINO and tax… I haven’t even thought about any of that since leaving the corporate world!

Well until I attended the UK Money Bloggers awards last week and that my friend is where my eyes were opened… wide!

There were some amazing panel discussions that covered debt repayment, emergency funds and pensions but there was just one of the many talks that really hit home with me; a topic about your financial future.

It was later that same day that I was introduced to the team at Multiply.  Multiply is a personal finance app that help particularly freelancers and self employed people with the management of personal finances and plan for the future.  Since listening to the finance experts on the panels last week and downloading the Multiply app; I’ve realised there are quite a few things that I really need to start thinking about now I’m self employed.

As I’ve already mentioned, when I was in employment my freelance business and blog had always just been ‘extra money’ and has always been reinvested one way or another into my business but now it’s my actual income and I need it to pay bills and keep a roof over our heads I look at in a whole new light.

The Multiply app allows freelancers like me to feel stable, future proof your lifestyle and still achieve your goals.

I now have what I need right in front of me to keep a track of my variable monthly income and contribute to the things I’ve previously just brushed under the carpet.

Because my income changes each month I am on a flexible plan where I just update the app with my monthly income and it automatically updates everything within my plan.

For example as you can see below it’s telling me that my priority should be to create an emergency fund. It’s something we don’t have and have never have to be fair so we really need to think about putting aside some money and saving like hell for that bugger!

An emergency fund is not just for the car breaking down or washer flooding the kitchen type emergencies (don’t get me wrong it would help massively with these too!) but it’s also there to cover a lack in wage one month perhaps; something that is extremely common as far as being a freelancer because we don’t have a consistent income.

Unfortunately my calculations from last month suggest that I can’t really afford to put anything away towards it however all being well when I update it at the end of this month, if my income has increased it will suggest an amount I put away immediately.

Again due to my income from last month I’m unfortunately unable to again put anything into my Pension.

It’s another something I need to sort out as a matter of urgency to be fair but I do still have my government one on hold so I at least have something.  I’m just no longer paying into anything … I want to also make this a priority so really need to get meal planning and save elsewhere!

I needn’t be too disheartened about not being able to pay into anything yet though – all being well due to my variable income I may be able to more in next month to make it up.  Thats the flexibility with it; if I don’t have it I don’t have it but with this app managing your money it will not leave you short or encourage you to put money somewhere leaving you with little or nothing.

 

Within the pension section of the Multiply plan there is also a pension calculator so I can see what I will get from my state pension at 67 but if I was in a position to put some away I would alter the monthly contribution of which would adjust the private fund accordingly.

Managing finances is one of the hardest things to do when you have no idea how much you are bringing home each month but Multiply really helps you to see the bigger picture and allows you to not only plan for this or next month but in the years to come too.

If you feel this post is been of use to you then please feel free to share or you know of any other freelances that may benefit then again pass it on!

Thanks for reading!

Kirsty x

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Multiply
Share

Bulb energy switch review

My Bulb energy switch is nearing the end of the quoted 21 days.  21 days is the standard time quoted by energy companies that they say a switch will take and I am just days away from being an official Bulb customer.  I began my Bulb energy switch at the start of this month from EDF who wanted to up my monthly gas and electricity bill to £125/month!  Here is my Bulb energy switch review, how it’s gone and what my new tariff will be!

Bulb energy switch review

I received my most recent bill around the same time a letter from EDF energy arrive to tell me at the end of September I was due to go on to their variable rate.  Doing this was going to increase my monthly payment for both gas and electric to £125/month!

I checked the bill and they, as so many energy providers do, had estimated both my gas and electricity usage without even checking themselves or asking me to submit a meter reading.

Bulb energy switch review

Bulb energy switch review

I immediately submitted my ACTUAL meter readings and they altered the amount I owed on my bill by about £50/70.

I added all my details into uSwitch, as I now do every year, and found a company that is probably not one of the most popular energy companies. 



The provider that came out the cheapest was Bulb who told me that my monthly payment would be £30 less than what EDF wanted to charge me so I made the switch!

I stupidly thought I was doing the energy companies a favour and actually called EDF to cancel my agreement with them before I pressed to submit and sign up to Bulb.  I didn’t need to and was panicking when I thought I wouldn’t have any gas or electric for three weeks! EDF very kindly set my account back up when I realised Bulb would do everything for me and I didn’t need to do a thing!

I called Bulb to tell them what I had done but unfortunately I couldn’t get through so I went on chat and spoke to someone who said don’t worry they’ll take care of everything.  A week later I received an email apologising that I couldn’t get through and I had to wait and that they would credit me £10 for the inconvenience!  How nice was that!

So I am officially a Bulberino and with the £10 goodwill gesture credit AND my £50 refer a friend I am a very happy bunny

Last year I mentioned I had never actually switched energy providers before (shock horror I know!) but I just couldn’t be bothered!

Pop your figures into uSwitch and see if Bulb is the cheapest on option for you too. Head on over to their site using my refer a friend link and both you and I will get £50 credit towards our next bill!!

Funnily enough EDF called me in the days after the switch had taken place to tell me that they had just released a new tariff and would I consider switching back.  I’m all for saving money but as you know I’m also conscious of getting value for money and paying people for what they deserve… unfortunately it was too little too late EDF!

Thanks for reading!

Kirsty x

 

Share

How to not waste money on Black Friday or Cyber Monday!

The countdown to Black Friday & Cyber Monday is ON!! I’m not one that particularly waits for these sales nor do I tend to buy anything to be fair but it is the biggest shopping weekend of the year and what once was just a US-only event is now easily a similar phenomenon over here in the U.K. too.  Here’s how to not get drawn in and how to not waste money on Black Friday or Cyber Monday!

How not to waste money on Black Friday or Cyber Monday!

Although some high street stores participate in Black Friday and cyber Monday, the majority of offers we have here in the UK are easily accessible via the internet.

Profits

It’s because of this that businesses make their biggest profits over this weekend due to the ease of spending money & getting drawn into offers that either aren’t the best value or aren’t offers at all.  How many times do you buy something because it’s got 50% off?  Do you need that ‘thing’?

How not to waste money on Black Friday or Cyber Monday!

Argos are one store who have been exposed numerous times in the last year or so for promoting offers and sales and them not actually being discounted or the best value but as soon as people see 3 for 2 or 25% off they don’t care whether it’s something they need or not; it’s a bargain that they HAVE to have.

Make a list

My intention as we countdown to Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to make a list and not deviate.

Don’t get me wrong if you have something in mind for Christmas that you don’t need to buy yet maybe hold off and see what there is on offer over the weekend but don’t be tempted by things you don’t really need or want just because it looks a steal.

Also remember that prices WILL go up after the weekend to make it look like that weekends sales were the best they’ve ever had. So don’t panic or wish you had bought what you saw because they will come back down.  If not immediately then in the future for sure.

I hope this helps and encourages to not waste money on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Thanks for reading!

Kirsty x

Share