The last year has been full of – mostly unwelcome – surprises, but not all of them have been bad: for many of us, working from home (and an empty diary) has been an opportunity to save some cash. Others, of course, have faced the opposite and have been confronted with furlough, pay cuts and redundancy. Whatever situation you’re in, taking a smart approach to managing your money in the coming months is a sensible choice. Here, some tips for keeping your bank account healthy post-pandemic.
Let’s face it, lockdown hasn’t exactly been a riot. So now we’re out and about, you’re absolutely entitled to a few treats, whether that means buying a pair of going out-out heels (may be suggest a pair of patent Mary Janes from Sportmax? you wouldn’t normally allow yourself, or dropping some extra cash on dinner with friends at a favourite restaurant. Take a look at your budget – the money you have coming in each month and the bills you regularly have to pay – and see if you can carve out some cash for a few mood-boosting extravagances. Sounds simple, but a prudent idea is to put this in a separate savings account, to make sure you remember the money is ring-fenced for guilt-free fun.
Over the last few months, normal life has been suspended and with it, normal spending. If you’re anything like us, that means no meals out, no lunchtime dashes to Zara and considerably fewer Uber trips. Now that lockdown is gradually lifting, think about what it is that you’ve really missed and what you haven’t minded going without. Perhaps you’ve realised that the coffee you make at home is just as good as that from your local, or your weekend shopping binges only ever result in buyer’s remorse and a too-full wardrobe. By all means, get back to spending on the things you love, but now is great time to reassess what you actually enjoy and value – you may find you don’t go back to spending as before.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who has kept their job over lockdown, you may have used the time as an opportunity to save money you’d usually be spending on a social life. Worried about how you’re going to keep up the good habits? Automate your savings to make sure you’re kept on track and get an app to help you: Plum is useful for large savings targets, while Tandem is best for putting away spare change that quickly adds up. Consider switching to an app-only bank account, like Monzo, that offers competitive interest rates and lets you set savings goals, round up change and track spending. Of course, you can always go old-school: identify how much you’d like to put aside each month and set up a standing order to transfer that amount to a different account on pay day – that way, you won’t be tempted to touch it, even when your social life is back to booming.
It’s completely correct and normal to want to make the most of freedom again, just as it’s right to be cautious and concerned about spending your hard-earned savings. There’s no one rule that fits everyone, so take time to find the right balance for you. It may take a few months to get the ratio of spending to saving right, so make the most of the many apps on the market to help you. Money Dashboard, Emma and Cleo are invaluable and will give you a good idea of where you can make cuts and where you can afford to indulge. What’s more, the more engaged you feel with your finances, the less inclined you’ll be to blindly spend.