For many households in the UK, living paycheck to paycheck is a real problem. According to CareerBuilder, almost 33% of all Britons live paycheck to paycheck. Needless to say, there’s a lot that should be done to improve people’s financial health in the UK and Europe. Whether it’s greater education about fintech or understanding where fintech is going in the future, the good news is that Europeans can take control of their finances to improve their financial health.
Sometimes, simply doing the basics right—proper budgeting and setting your financial goals—can set you on the right track, so you don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck or struggle with debt.
Let’s take a look at how Europeans can maximize their financial health.
Establish Your Goals and Stick to Them!
Discipline should be your focus word when you’re trying to break the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck. By making this word your mantra, you can put the brakes on excessive spending in your household.
For example, if you’re in debt and have to pay back various lenders, you may want to actually write down to whom you owe money and establish a viable plan for how to pay them back. The UK government provides this quick-fire plan for how to get a plan in place, which includes getting advice from an organization called the Money Advice Service.
Another goal could be to limit the amount of money you spend on entertainment (discretionary spending) per month.
Budget, Budget, Budget
Budgeting is crucial if you want healthier finances. Budgeting involves making sure that you don’t spend more per month than you make. While this seems straightforward enough, many people in the UK and Europe struggle to get their budgets under control, which leads to financial issues.
Essentially, you want to account for every pound that you spend and that you make. Writing it all down in a simple spreadsheet is a great start. This allows you to track if you are in fact living beyond your means by going over your budget.
The key is to make sure that you remain within your budget on a monthly basis. Should you not be able to avoid going over, then at least analyze what costs you can cut down on a regular basis to stick to your budget.
Know the Kinds of Workplace Benefits That Apply to You
According to the Independent, some companies do more for their employees than just give out pensions and healthcare. The same report also says that more than 33% of employees acknowledge that benefits are one of their biggest considerations when joining a new company.
To be in a better financial situation, understand exactly what sorts of workplace perks prospective employers can offer. Realize that it is beneficial to your bottom line to work for a company that offers more than just a nice company car or extra paid time off; find those companies and apply with them.
For example, payment service Huddle gives its employees a bonus of £5000 when they start working there, in addition to a yearly gift worth £500!
Tech That Allows You to Save Money
Fintech such as bitcoin has revolutionized how the world does business. Likewise, various apps and tools exist that can help you get your financial life in better shape.
One such example is FastInvest’s Investing Auto Invest tool. This service does all the work for you.
Of course, apps aren’t the only example of tech that lets you save money. Even something as basic as shopping online—where some ecommerce companies don’t charge for shipping above a certain amount you spend or altogether—can make a big difference.
Being in Financial Sync With Your Significant Other
If you’re in a relationship, it can be challenging to manage your money as a couple. One of the biggest problems that couples run into is the lack of communication about their finances. For instance, your wife could be spending too much on her credit card, or your boyfriend could be spending too much on the town with his buddies.
If there’s no communication between partners, the household’s finances can become jeopardized.
Ensure that you always have open channels of communication with your significant other: Sit down together, budget and set your monthly goals together, so that there are no surprises with overspending and falling short at the end of the month.
Think About Emergency Situations
Life doesn’t always go as planned. You can always lose your job, get sick, or wind up in the hospital due to an accident. All of these unwelcome circumstances mean that your income stream will be negatively affected. Instead of running out of money, plan ahead by making sure that you save money for an emergency.
Establish an official emergency fund, so that you know it’s exclusively for any of the adversarial situations meant above. Don’t touch the money in this fund except for a real emergency—no cheating! This can mean something as basic as putting away a bit of money every month and then let that gradually build into a fund that will cover your expenses should the worst case scenario really happen.
The BBC has an actionable article on what you have to do to create a savings buffer, and it includes the shocking stat that 4 in 10 Britons don’t have £500 or greater in personal savings! Don’t be a statistic and plan ahead.
Lower Your Debt by Starting to Pay It Off
Depending on how deeply in debt you are, it can take a long time to pay it off, but you have to start sometime and somewhere if you’re going to run a fiscally solvent household. Paying off your debt entirely is vital to making sure that your financial fortunes increase.
Once again, the UK government has an amazing resource that helps those in debt begin the process of paying down their debt. This resource is customized for people living within the UK (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as those outside the UK entirely).
Debt-help services like the Money Advice Service is an organization that’s always available to help people come up with a plan to start paying off their debt. Such a plan usually consists of figuring out exactly how much you owe your creditors, what exactly your assets are (your property and possessions), and how much money you make.
Your debt options all depend on how much money you have and the number and type of assets you have, so that’s why it’s crucial to get a plan in place to determine all of this.
Make Intelligent Investment Decisions
Investing is the science of making your own money work for you. When you make smart investments, your money grows itself, giving you a nice, financial cushion on which you can build your nest egg.
You’ll want to consider an investment in consumer loans in the Fast Invest platform, which stands out from the crowd because of the advantages it gives its investors. Thanks to low overhead—as Fast Invest operates online, unlike a brick-and-mortar bank—the savings are passed on to you, the investor. Fast Invest offers you much higher interest rates for your investments than a traditional bank would, usually 9 to 15% when compared with a bank’s rates, which are normally quite lower at anywhere from 1 to 4%.
When you make investment decisions like this, you’re already ahead of the game because you’re getting more than you would with other types of investment.
It’s Alright to Treat Yourself From Time to Time
The tricky part about saving and being disciplined with your finances is that it can be tempting to forget about rewarding yourself, on occasion. After all, what good is becoming more financially healthy when you can’t enjoy yourself, every once in a while?
If you do decide to treat yourself with some recreation or entertainment, the same rules apply: Don’t go over-budget, don’t splurge, and stay within the confines of your budget planning. Otherwise, a small treat can quickly turn out of control, and you’ll find yourself back in the same debt and lack of fiscal discipline that you’ve just dug yourself out of.
Choose smaller treats instead of bigger ones to keep your fiscal discipline. Instead of going on an all-out vacation, only go away for the weekend. Instead of buying a new, huge flat-screen TV, just buy a smaller one.
It All Comes Down to Restraint
The key to making your finances healthy again is self-control. Just don’t spend what you don’t have, and you won’t fall into debt, from which it’s usually very hard to extricate yourself. A good rule of thumb is not to live beyond your means: If you can’t afford that new car, then don’t take out a high-interest loan to finance it! Instead, buy a used car or save until you can afford the car you want on your own, without a loan.
The beauty of getting your finances under control is that it improves all aspects of your life. When your finances aren’t keeping you up at night, you’ll feel better and enjoy a calmer mood, letting you live the life you want.
So exercise restraint, and you’ll live a happier life, too.