January 5, 2017
“Oooh!” your friends shriek, when you spent another tenner in HMV. “Do you really need that? Haven’t you already got a copy of that game? Why are you buying it for the Xbox? Do you even have an Xbox?”
If you’ve told your friends and family that you’re trying to regain control of your finances, there can be an unpleasant repercussion – unwanted feedback. It can be deeply irritating to be told by others how to spend and save your money. Here’s how to rise above it and take back the reins of your runaway financial horse, as it were.
Anyone who says that money doesn’t matter is, unfortunately, fibbing to you. It’s hugely personal. It influences where you live, how you eat, your healthcare, your education, how you travel, and your leisure time. It can make or break relationships. It defines which clothes you buy and where you go on holiday – indeed, even if you can take a holiday. It runs through every single strand of your life and you make decisions every day based on your cash flow. It’s a deeply-ingrained part of you, whether you like it or not.
This may explain why nobody likes receiving financial advice, not even from their spouse. It’s seen as a slur – as a way of insinuating you don’t have control, or enough discipline to manage your money. Even though friends and family may think they’re offering you help, it’s difficult to listen and not feel like you’re being judged. However, if you’re struggling, there are ways to perk your finances up and change your situation without feeling like you’re giving up the things you love.
Firstly, think of something you'd like to save for - maybe something you've been putting off buying because it's too much of an indulgence in these tough times. Don't make it too big - pick something manageable!
That's your base, your foundation. Begin to say to yourself, "I know that with a few changes, I can save X a week." Before you know it, you'll have reached your goal - and you'll be looking for something bigger to save for.
It’s worth repeating that your chosen monthly savings have to sensibly reflect your lifestyle; there’s no point constantly dipping into your ISA when payday’s looming and you’re feeling the squeeze.
Secondly, be aware that how you get there is your choice. There’s nothing worse than some know-it-all at the bus stop commenting on your morning coffee, and helpfully explaining that by giving it up, you’d save £20 a week. You already know this. The trick is balancing what you love with what you like. There’s a good chance that your coffee makes you happy – you get to chat with the lady behind the till, it warms you up, and gives you a decent caffeine kick. Foregoing it might make you a bit miserable – and feeling resentful isn’t the name of the game.
So, you’re spending an extra £20 a week on something which gives you genuine pleasure – and in today’s modern world, that’s a hard thing to find. You then have to learn to balance this out. So, you keep the coffee – but give up the weekly takeaway, the gig tickets, or the Uber across town to see your friend. It’s all about you being in control, and finding a comfy balance. You’ve got the power to decide what you do and don’t purchase – make the cutbacks you know you can adapt to without feeling your life has lost its little perks.
Nobody likes being told what to do. We all like to feel we’re in the driving seat, and the good ideas came from us. And why shouldn’t they? It’s your money, you run the show.
Essentially, what we’re saying is this. Research and find an achievable, realistic goal. Stick to your goal. Make adjustments which you can work with – and don’t let anyone tell you how to get there. As long as you’re honest with yourself and you can find ways to cut costs which work for you, it’s nobody else’s business.
Enjoy the odd drink after work, splurge on a new bedding set, and don’t give up the things which matter. Your quality of life needs to be maintained, and you’re more likely to stick to your new savings plan if you feel that it’s not killing all your fun.
Just remember to make adjustments which let the pounds add up, and away you go. So throw away the takeaway leaflets and start taking the bus with a smile; remember that you’ve still got the little things to look forward to.
Before long, your new ways of living will become comfortable habits, and you'll be even closer to living the life you'd like - with a healthy financial future.
Image credit: Flickr, with thanks to William Warby