Summer Finances!

Finally, the long cold winter months are a distant memory - thank goodness! Although I love nothing more than snuggling up with the children during the cold, dark winter nights, nothing compares to the welcome return of clear blue skies, longer days and the warmer weather.

The change of season also signals change in our home. From washing my windows free from those smear marks, to checking all of those overlooked surfaces that seem to gather incomprehensible amounts of dust, I love nothing more than welcoming the new season with a fresh, clean home.

But this year, alongside cleaning my home from top to bottom, I have challenged myself to give my finances a ‘spring clean’ too! It’s often a part of my life that gets overlooked - unintentionally of course. And I figure, if I can put so much effort into cleaning out my home, why can’t I do the same with my finances?

In fact, it was a topic that provoked much discussion discuss amongst my friends when we met for our weekly coffee, and we have all challenged ourselves to get our finances in order this year. But where to start? My friend told me about Mrs Moneypenny’s: Spring Clean Your Finances video (you may have seen her on channel 4’s Superscrimpers). She’s literally the guru of financial help and advice, and opened my eyes to how I could make substantial savings by making small yet significant changes to the way I look at my finances and manage my credit. Here are some tips I have picked up:

Invest in a notebook and write everything down
When you’re busy being a mum, it’s difficult to keep track of your finances. But before you can make positive changes to your financial framework, it’s important that you construct a list of every bank account, credit card, loan, and building society account that you own – this way you can identify ways of tidying up your finances. It may seem daunting at first, but it’s important that you take the time to understand how and where you can make positive changes for the future.

Do you have credit cards and store cards?
Over the years, I’ve used credits cards to purchase a variety of expensive items. From our new kitchen, car and sofa to holidays abroad, my credit card has always come in handy, especially as I have always been able to get good interest rates.

I don’t know about you, but time seems to fly by in our household and it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of when those interest rates run out, especially if you have more than one credit card. That’s why Mrs Moneypenny suggested writing each credit card down, and next to it recording when each rate runs out. This way you can identify the best approach to moving or clearing each balance.

If you do have a higher interest credit card, the Mrs Moneypenny video from Superscrimpers suggests moving the balance onto a card with a lower interest rate if you are not able to clear it straight away. But first, it’s a good idea to check your credit report to make sure everything is accurate and up to date and identify if there are any areas for improvement before you make an application. With services like Experian CreditExpert, you’ll also be able to get an idea of the types of cards you are likely to be accepted for.

Do you have more than one bank account?
One thing that I wasn’t aware of before, was that having lots of open current accounts could affect your credit score! If like me, you have bank accounts open that you barely use, the best option is to shut them down and use one account. I didn’t realise how much of a headache it was having more than one bank account before deciding to bank from one account. At the same time, it’s worth checking whether or not you are paying a monthly fee for your account. If you are, it is worthwhile shopping around to see if you can get a better deal!

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