For so many people managing money can be a stressful experience. Life is demanding enough, and at Oakam we believe that taking control of your finances shouldn’t add to the list of life’s stresses.
As we near the end of National Stress Awareness Month, it’s good to remember that this year’s theme of ‘Regaining Connectivity, Certainty and Control’ is important all year round. To help you stay stress free, we’ve written a few suggestions on how to manage your personal finances and keep stress at bay.
Map out your financial commitments
So often a significant chunk of financial stress comes from not knowing where you stand with your money. It’s not possible to make decisions about how best to manage your finances if you don’t know how much is entering and leaving your account each month.
In whatever way you prefer – whether that’s with pen and paper, with a spreadsheet, or in the notes section of your smart phone – write down all your monthly incomings and outgoings. This way, you can see in black and white exactly what your expenses are and reduce any anxiety you may have.
If you’ve taken out a loan recently and are unsure of the ins and outs of your borrowing and repayments, you should check with the loan organisation for a summary of borrowing to break down your loan charges.
At Oakam, there are no fees or charges with any of our loans and you receive a full payment schedule when you first take out your loan. You can also access your loan account via the Oakam app at any time, see your repayments and how much you’ve got left to pay. We’ll even notify you if you become eligible for a top up or a new loan in the future.
Make budgeting a monthly ritual
One of the easiest ways to reduce financial stress is to have a monthly spending budget. Having a budget for each area of your life – for example, groceries, household bills, phone costs, meals out, and more – means that you can spend the money allotted without worrying.
We suggest sitting down once a month, either at the beginning or the end, and mapping out your spending for the month ahead. A rough skeleton of costs is a useful place to start, and you can adjust the budget each month, depending on whether there’s a special occasion coming up, or if you’ve got more social commitments than usual, for example.
The idea isn’t to be inflexible with budgeting and force yourself to try to stick to an unachievable spending goal, but to create a realistic budget that takes your life into account.
Take advantage of direct debits and standing orders
Direct debits and standing orders can be really useful tools that let your bank account do a lot of work for you. If you know that you can find making payments stressful, then these can be your new best friend.
By setting up payments to automatically come out of your account, you can sit back and relax, knowing your bills are being settled up without you having to lift a finger. Just factor the payments into your monthly budget, set up the direct debit or standing order, and let your account do the rest.
Something to remember is that it’s a good idea to set up these payments to come into effect within a few days of you receiving your monthly income, to reduce the risk of the money not being in your account when a bill is due.
We’ve all been through a lot in the last year, and our stress levels have likely all been higher than usual. No one should have to add financial stresses to the list. As this year’s stress awareness month ends, try to take some time out and practice stress-reduction for managing your finances.
Having a bad credit history is not the same as being in financial difficulty. If you think you are in financial difficulty or are finding it difficult to pay your bills on time you should seek an alternative solution. To get debt advice information, we advise seeking independent advice from an impartial service like Citizens Advice or a qualified Financial Advisor.