Apr 21, 20204 min read

Improving your finances through progress, not perfection.

by Jon - The Money Shed

Finding ways to improve your finances can often lead to a better quality of life, either through reducing stress or increasing financial stability. However, the problem for many people is knowing where to start, as it can often feel like an arduous task. The main thing to remember here is that you’re looking for progress, not perfection. Taking small steps in the right direction can have a massive positive effect on your daily life.

Over the years I’ve really been able to improve my finances just by making some small lifestyle changes here and there and of course taking advantage of money savvy services such as price comparison sites which can be used far more often than you would think!
To get things started, here are 3 ways to rethink your finances that will make a big difference without taking up too much of your time.

Save Money by Changing Providers
Unfortunately, in this day and age, there’s very little reward for loyalty. In fact, one of the most common ways of wasting money is to stay with the same service providers for a long time. This includes things like electric, gas, and even television services. Most providers will offer incentives for new customers, usually in the form of lower rates for a certain period. In the past I’ve been able to make use of price comparison websites such as MoneySuperMarket or Compare The Market to not only find the best deals, but also to set reminders for when my contracts are up for renewal, to make sure I’m finding, and keeping, the best deal possible.

Not long ago, this was itself a great hassle, with the expectation of spending hours on the phone, but the great thing about changing providers these days is that most of it is taken care of for you. Often, all you need to do is enter your details into the new providers website, and they’ll do all the hard work for you. We recently moved from Eon to Bulb for our energy and managed to save around £200+ a year and the whole switch just took me a matter of minutes! MoneySuperMarket suggests the average user can save up to £205 by switching so never underestimate just how much of an easy way to save a decent amount of cash every month this can be for very little effort.

Shop Around for Bargains
Even if you’ve been planning to buy something for a while, it’s easy to choose the simplest or most obvious way to buy an item, but a great way to save money is to make sure that you’re getting the best value possible, by shopping around. Comparison websites, voucher code providers, secondhand auctions sites and cashback sites can offer an added bonus for shopping with them, whether that’s by finding the exact item second hand for cheaper or earning cashback on the money you’d originally planned to spend.

And there’s no reason to draw the line at bigger more emotive purchases – the same can be applied to general shopping. Don’t be afraid to check prices across lots of supermarkets before you head to the checkout. I frequently do this even when looking at household cleaning items, as the price difference between the stores can be huge. With technology available at our fingertips, it’s easy to give prices a quick scan before heading to the aisles.

Save Money with Lifestyle Changes
One of the biggest issues for most people is that they just don’t realise what they’re spending on a monthly basis. Our daily lives are so busy that we can spend absent-mindedly, especially on smaller items (chocolate bars, coffees, apps and games on mobile etc.). Tapping a debit card to pay doesn’t register in the mind in the same way that handing over paper cash does.

The great news is that so many fintech providers are seeking to change this, Monzo, Cleo, Plum and many others help track individual spending habits, often giving you immediate spending alerts so you can see where your cash is going with every transaction.
By taking note of everything you’re spending, you’ll quickly realise if you’re extending beyond your means. If you’re buying a £3 coffee on the way to work every morning, you’re probably spending around £60 per month for your morning pick-me-up. Now add up the pizza deliveries, beers at the weekend and so on and you can see how quickly things can get out of hand.

Making small changes to your daily routine can massively improve your overall finances. It may sound like a cliché, but enjoying a coffee that you’ve made at home, for example, could make room for cash to be saved for a holiday. Cooking rather than ordering a takeout meal every Friday could help you to put cash towards a new car. Small changes really do add up!