23 brilliant money management tips you'll want to share (2024)

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Here's what professional bookkeepers want you to know about keeping tabs on your money!

By Caroline Bloor

Whether you are running the household finances or a small business, balancing the budget is no mean feat right now with the cost of living crisis throwing up daily challenges. According to research from the Money and Pension Service's (MaPS) Financial Wellbeing Survey*, 24 million UK adults don’t feel confident managing their money.

"Given the complexity of many financial products, it's completely understandable," says Jackie Spencer, senior policy manager at MaPS. "Our research also shows that people often can’t find the information they need, or don’t understand it fully, so it’s unfortunately not surprising that so many lack confidence in this crucial area."

"Feeling in control of your finances can take a huge weight off your mind by helping you make more informed choices and feel less anxious or stressed. It can also improve your relationships, mental health and ability to plan for the future," she says.

    So, with the cost of living crisis still affecting us all, we asked two super-savvy business experts for some simple money management tips that we can all benefit from. Zoe Whitman is a Fellow Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and Jo Wood is a Fellow of the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers. Together they host The Bookkeepers’ Podcast and they have both been named in the list of the Global Top 50 Women in Accounting.

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    Here are Zoe and Jo's top tips on spending, saving and borrowing:

    Tips on spending wisely

    • "Review your spending, especially right now when prices are creeping up. Spend one month jotting down exactly what you spend against categories that mean something to you. It can be quite eye-opening to see the figures in front of you, giving real motivation to make a change if change is needed,” says Zoe.
    • Add friction to your online shopping experience. "Never save your credit card details to any online shopping accounts, or to a digital wallet, and be sure to turn off one-click ordering. The hassle of having to go and find your card when you’re cosy on the sofa will reduce impulse purchases," says Jo.
    • Some websites will allow you to see historic price trends and create alerts when items are discounted. "I saved £200 on my daughter’s pram by tracking when the shop in question would likely run a sale," says Zoe.
    • Shop from a ‘master shopping list’ if you tend to have the same meals most weeks. This makes it easier to keep stocked up on the food you actually eat, rather than impulse buying.
    • Give everyone in the family a card for your loyalty accounts. "My husband has the key fob for my supermarket loyalty card as it’s the place he’s most likely to fill up on fuel," says Zoe.
    • Annual costs which are often billed over 10 months, such as council tax, insurance and utilities, can usually be split over 12 months. If there’s no interest charge for spreading the payments, doing so will give you a more stable monthly budget.
    • "If you have a joint account for a specific purpose, such as holiday savings or joint bills, shred the pins for the debit cards so you can’t use the money for anything else," says Jo.
    • Supermarkets will usually offer favourable discounts for your first online shop. "I ordered the wine for my wedding reception from an online supermarket with a ‘six for five’ offer, £30 off my first £100 order and free home delivery," says Zoe.

    Check out MoneyHelper for free online tools, budgeting guides and a dedicated cost of living section.

    Advice on saving and borrowing

    • If your bank account allows you to have sub-accounts (as many of the challenger banks do), set up a savings account, then round up your spending to the nearest £1, £10 or £100 and pop the difference into the separate account, advises Jo. At the point of purchase, it probably won’t make any difference to you whether a pair of trainers costs you £47 or £50, but those extra pounds will soon add up.
    • Set up your standing order to your savings account for the first of the month. Paying your savings account first - as soon as your salary comes in - means you’re much less likely to fritter money away, giving you the best possible chance of hitting your savings goals.
    • Buy bulky frequent-use goods on subscription. "I’m likely to run out of washing powder, toilet roll, dishwasher tablets and cat food, so getting these items home delivered means I’m not popping to the shop for just one thing; then returning with sushi, socks and a Colour Reveal Barbie!" says Zoe.
    • You need a full national insurance record if you wish to receive a full state pension. If you’ve been out of the workplace to have children or taken a career break, you can check your national insurance record and make up the missing contributions online.
    • "I recently spent £260 on an MOT and new brake discs," says Zoe. "Annual events such as MOTs happen at the same time each year so saving an appropriate amount into a ‘car account’ each month can reduce the shock of forking out for big costs when they come around."
    • Book an annual date night with your partner to review your direct debits. See how much money you can save and make it a fun evening with a takeaway!
    • "If you’re making minimum payments for any credit cards or loans, rounding your payment up to the nearest £10 pays it off more quickly," says Jo. "This is also better for your credit score, as you are classified differently if you pay even 1p more than the minimum payment."

      Bookkeeping tips for small business owners

      • Small business owners are often afraid of hitting the VAT registration threshold, which holds them back from taking on additional work. The threshold is £85,000 of turnover over a rolling 12-month period, so if your sales are less than £7,000 per month, don’t worry... Keep making money!
      • Software subscriptions quickly add up. When you sign up for anything new, note the one-year anniversary down in your diary so you can cancel your payment. Your provider will most likely offer a discount to bring you back on board. If available, collect reward points to buy items such as wearable tech, or claim cashback up to 25% on the cost of a new customer’s annual subscription.
      • Do what you’re best at and can make the most money from. If you make £50 per hour in your business and a cleaner costs £20 per hour, then outsourcing the housework will enable you to make more money. Similarly, a virtual assistant can do your online food shop – giving you back more money-making time.
      • "If you hate year-end and leave things until the last minute, outsource your finances to a bookkeeper. There are lots of benefits: you get time back in your business, stay compliant and organised, know about upcoming bills and deadlines, and ensure you’re claiming everything you’re entitled to," says Jo.
      • Change your thinking about your profits and earning potential. If you run a small business or have a side hustle, don’t use the formula: ‘Income - Expenses = Money left for you’. Flip this so you pay yourself first: ‘Income - Money for you = Expenses’. This will make you much less likely to overspend.
      • We do so much more business online now, but if you need to meet in person, think differently about how and when you do that. Ticket-splitting websites can save a fortune on longer journeys – particularly by rail.
      • Whether you’re employed or self-employed, there will likely be some tax relief available for home-working.

        *MaPs survey 2021

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