Best Ways To Ensure Your Family Finances Are In Check

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

Managing household finances may feel like a never-ending, thankless task at times, but it’s something that must be done. Left unattended, your money concerns will only grow in scale, one day coming back to bite you when you’re least able to deal with them.

Thankfully, there are habits you can get into that will enable you to keep on top of your outgoings and incomings at all times, and to plan ahead for any issues that may arise on the horizon. Although having expertise knowledge never goes amiss, most of these are routines anyone can manage, and there’s always a wealth of free information available on the internet that you can readily access if needs be.

The starting point in anyone’s quest to bring their family finances into check has to be laying out a monthly budget. Although this can be done to some extent immediately, if you want to ensure the figures are as accurate and thorough as possible then spending a month or two tracking all your expenses in advance will give you the broadest idea possible of what they are. Just make sure that during this month you don’t change your spending habits – any sudden conversion to a thrifty lifestyle won’t help with your budgeting unless you’re planning to keep it up indefinitely.

Once you’ve got this information, work out how much income you need to cover your regular monthly outgoings. On top of that, factor in some extra leeway in case of emergencies, one-off costs and other unforeseeable issues. You might want to also add a bit more to the total if you’re looking to start saving. From thereon, you need to make sure that you’re keeping track of your budget and that it’s being stuck to.

On the subject of savings, it is well-advised that you put aside at least 10% of your monthly income if possible into a savings account, bond, ISA or other form of deposit. This should help cover those unpredictable costs mentioned earlier, while also enabling you to invest and boost your income when opportunities arise.

As part of your overall approach to finances, you should also seek out safe ways of reducing your existing debts as the regular payments and interest on them can create a gaping hole in your income over time. For instance, if you have a mortgage then seek financial advice or search comparison websites to check whether you’re getting the best available deal. Even if you have a debt you can’t shift, such as many credit card payments, it’s still worth adding up all contributions together so that you’re aware of what your costs truly are.

As well as these options, if you’re a resident in Scotland and you’ve passed the point where your debts are too large to pay, then you should
consider the benefits of a Protected Trust Deed. Such arrangements with creditors can last for four years or more, and involve reducing unaffordable payments into single monthly contributions. Also, at the end of the period any remaining debt is written off providing it isn’t covered by exceptions. Those living in England and Wales can look into IVA’s as a feasible alternative.