Saving money is certainly not something that comes easy to everyone. Financial literacy and shrewd spending are acquired skills, that require learning and engagement with the way money works in the UK. In difficult times – where the average grocery shop is much more expensive than it was two years ago, and where heating one’s home has become something of a luxury expense – saving money has been rendered even harder.
But saving is an undeniably important thing for any household to do – if not for long-term stability, then for short-term relief against the pressures of living payslip to payslip. Here, we will examine some of the steps you should take at the start of your own savings journey, and routes to saving that offer you the most security in the short and long term.
First things first, you need to understand your present economic situation – with a particular focus on any debts you may have accrued. Long-term loans such as your mortgage are less a concern here; it is debts with shorter repayment terms and higher rates of interest that have a heavier impact on your money.
While the instinct can be to start saving immediately, this is counterintuitive if you have any payday loans or credit card debts to pay. The interest on your repayments will invariably negate any interest on savings – hamstringing your saving endeavours and ultimately leeching money from you. Instead, any money you were going to save should go straight to your debt. The sooner you are debt-free, the sooner you can actually, equitably save money.
Shop Around for Savings Options
With your debts cleared, you can shift your attention to saving proper. Naturally, you will need some repositories for your savings, and there are many options in this regard. You might use a bog-standard savings account for ease of access to your pot, but these do not reward you with good rates of interest. If you’re willing to be a bit less flexible, a savings bond can be a good way to achieve high returns on a lump sum.
There are also ISAs, which offer you tax-free interest on any savings placed into them (up to a threshold). This tax-free interest is only a boon if you have a large amount of savings, but ISAs also attract higher rates of interest – and can be used as vehicles for investment in stock indexes for greater tax-free returns.
On Achieving Results
Saving is not a linear journey. Best-laid plans to save a set amount each month are easily kiboshed by unexpected costs or events. Indeed, a good rule of thumb is to set an emergency fund aside first, that covers emergency costs without impacting your budget otherwise. This can help bomb-proof your savings plan that little bit more, and ensure you remain on track.
If you are struggling to hold yourself accountable to your savings goals, you can automate the process so that set amounts are taken out and sequestered away each month. This way, forgetfulness – wilful or not – does not get in the way of your savings mission.