Perhaps you never quite achieved your idea of a perfect summer body this year, as cakes for work colleagues’ birthdays and drinks at the weekend tempted you, but there’s always time to go on a ‘financial diet’ whereby you restrict your usual shopping habits and roll around in the coins you are left with at the end.
It’s easier than throwing away all the chocolate in the house (or eating it all first before the first day of your diet in a hurry to get rid of it) and it can be done immediately. So, whether you simply want to save money or have a nagging debt and money causing you worry here’s how to go on a financial diet:
Confront your debts
Mortgages and student finance loans aside, it’s important that if the stem of your money troubles comes from debt problems such as credit cards or personal loans, that you confront these head on. Going on a financial diet means you have acknowledged there is a problem and getting debts in order is an important part of this process to avoid the risk of more trouble down the line or even having to take on an IVA.
Manage your money
The next step after arranging your debts is to look closely at your finances and plan out a budget for the month. This means, after the necessary bills, setting a certain amount of money aside for everyday expenses, including food and fuel. If you are strict and rigidly stick to your budgets for each of your expenses your diet is going to become much easier.
There are apps out there that can help too. Some link directly to your bank account and some require you to manually input what you spend each month, but they’re great ways of seeing how much you’re spending on certain things each month. Try downloading the Spending Tracker app to get you started.
Like any diet, it’s important you avoid anything that may encourage you to give in to temptation. This doesn’t mean your life has to be boring, it simply means finding alternative ways of entertaining yourself, without spending too much money. Let’s say you and your friends meet regularly at the pub on a Friday night for a few drinks and a catch up; you could suggest they come to your house, bring a bottle and you could provide snacks. You still get to see each other and it will save you money in the long run!
Ask friends and family to help
Like any diet, it’s important those closest to you understand what you are doing and how important it is to ensure they do not lead you off your chosen path. Ask them to keep you in check to ensure you don’t make any rash decisions and perhaps to even scold you if you do impulse buy or ruin your budget one month. Knowing that you are being monitored could help you stay on track – but this doesn’t always work for everyone.
Cheat days are important on a diet, they allow you to indulge a little in the things you’re missing and the same goes for a financial diet. If you have been a big spender in the past it’s important you allocate a small amount of cash to treat yourself with, whether it’s your favourite bottle of wine or a new accessory to wear at the weekend – try to spend no more than a tenner though!
*This post is contributed by and in collaboration with Debbie Fletcher.*