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Publication date : 27/03/2019
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Can Even the Hopeless Amongst Us Spring Clean Our Finances?
There’s something about this time year: the pale early light, the signs of the first buds on trees, I begin to leave my window open a little longer and feel that gentle breeze on my shoulder. I no longer have the same need for woolen blankets or the 20 scarves I’ve wrapped myself up in in rotation for the last 5 months.
Militant in attitude and armed with colour-coordinated binbags, I begin organising, reshuffling, creating space. I find myself buying containers to provide that minimalist sheen. A place for everything and everything has its place. My life is contained, a Japanese bento box and I feel serene, a cool mountain. Declutter experts advise tackling the process room by room (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and so on) and then either recycling, regifting or chucking that which no longer useful, beautiful or of sentimental value. This sounds doable enough. It is, I do it every year.
Worryingly though, I had not once attempted financial organisation with the same gusto. If only I could approach matters of money with the same enthusiasm. I’d probably be financially much better off. And yet, even for the hopeless amongst us, do not despair, there really is hope.
I had one trick left up my sleeve: being smart enough to know when I need to ask for help. Here’s some advice that Birdee’s experts gave me, 5 top tips to spring clean your finances translated by someone who’s made every financial mistake possible:
STEP 1: Write down everything you spend
Yes, I know, it’s old-school. But bear with me. For a selected period of time: a week two weeks, a month, write down everything (I mean everything) you spend. (Sigh.) It may be tedious, but this is where awareness raising comes in to play. I can’t promise that you won’t gasp: ‘how the beep did I spend 80 euros on waxing?’ or ‘I spent how much on takeaway matcha lattes?? Holy mother of beep!!!’ It can be painful, Yet, remember the old adage: ‘knowledge is power’, well writing it out gives you that knowledge and thereby you take back your power. It’s the first step to making your spending more choiceful.
STEP 2: Create a budget sheet
Again, not a revolutionary idea, it’s stuck around because it works. Simply, take either a (large) piece of paper or an excel spreadsheet (if you’re that way inclined), and draw two columns. At the top of either column write ‘money in’ and ‘money out’. Considering a monthly basis an example of ‘money in’ would most likely be your salary and ‘money out’ is everything you spend in a month. From here you get the lay of your land and from there you can better navigate. You may already notice your spending habits become more reflected.
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STEP 3: Slow down and choose your non-negotiables
You’ll notice in the second ‘money out’ column that you’ve written down things you have to pay for. For example, your rent, these are called: ‘fixed costs’. There are also things you could choose to buy or not, for example, 80 euros worth of takeaway coffees, or that other pair of earrings or trainers or übers instead of metro, and so on and so forth. I could go on, we’ve all been there, I most definitely have. Now take some time to reflect on how you want to spend your money. Really. Slow down. Breathe. Consider, what are your priorities and what really brings you pleasure. Perhaps it’s worth asking yourself why are you spending, in what situations? Are you trying to cheer yourself up? (Again, I’ve been there.) Once you’ve clarified your priorities, it gets easier to think long-term, it’s as if the fog lifts.
STEP 4: Make debt repayment a non-negotiable
Most of us are in debt in one way or another. This isn’t anything to be ashamed of, we’re bombarded by images to spend from every angle and life can be well, very expensive. Be it student loans from yester-year or paying off an emergency, whatever the reason, if the interest is high on your debts you’re as good as pouring money down the drain. Prioritise to pay them off as soon as you’re able. Taking the control back and establishing direct debit payments paying off debts bit by bit will give you an amazing boost as you observe the amount descending month by month.
STEP 5: Make savings and or better yet investing the next non-negotiable
It took me far too long to realise that one of the best kinds of self-care is creating financial security myself. And that includes the sense of safety of having money put away. Save up a sum for a rainy day. Once that objective has been reached, begin investing small amounts but regularly. At Birdee, you can start by investing small. Much like observing your debt decreasing, watching your regular investments and savings accumulate is very satisfying. This is the best part really, like wearing your favourite soft jumper or grandma’s cuddle you’ll feel warm and wholesome.
From here, get curious, take advantage of technological developments, with technology nowadays everything that was done before is now, faster, quicker, smarter. And new things being invented too, there’s a whole new world out there. Take a look at how Birdee can support you. Once your finances are sorted you can focus on the fun in life knowing you’re in control. It’s exciting, who knows the places you could go?
What tips would you like to share? How did you get on?
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