Modern living presents a series of unique challenges that can often be overcome if you know how to make the most of your money and adopt some smart practices that are eco-friendly as well as allowing you to live well without it costing the earth.
In order to be able to live smart, you will need to take a holistic approach to many aspects of your daily life that have an impact on your financial and personal wellbeing.
Here is a comprehensive overview of the sort of habits and practices you can adopt in order to achieve your aims.
Make your money go further
A good starting point would be to resolve to adopt some really smart habits with your money that will make your income go further and allow you to plan for a brighter future.
Your income and your overheads may well fluctuate at certain periods in your life and career, especially when you are raising a family, for example, and you may well feel under more financial pressure at that point.
An excellent habit to get into with your money would be to create a household budget so that you can clearly see how much cash you need each month to pay all the bills and get a precise picture of where all your money is going.
Working to a budget is always a smart thing to do as it will help you identify where savings could be made and where your money could be put to better use.
Your aim should be to try and allocate at least 5% of your income towards future financial goals, such as college education and retirement. Once you get into the habit of putting money away you soon learn to adjust your monthly spending and as your income increases and you gain greater control over your finances you might be able to increase your savings ratio to at least 10% of your income.
Be wary of credit
Borrowing money can be costly and stressful, especially if you overstretch yourself and end up spending too much of your monthly income servicing debt.
For peace of mind and financial sanity, it would be a smart move to try and live within your existing means and save for things rather than use a credit card. Taking out a mortgage to buy a house can be seen as a more astute form of borrowing as you will be able to achieve an element of domestic security with a roof over your head and the value of your home could increase over time, allowing you to offset some of the mortgage costs incurred.
A prudent and cautious approach to borrowing money on credit is a sensible strategy and will help you enjoy a great level of financial security and tranquility at the same time.
Save money on your household bills
Running a household can prove to be a real drain on your financial resources and that is why you need to be very proactive in keeping an eye on how much you are spending on domestic bills.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to make an unexpected hole in your bank balance is to suddenly face a bill for repairing the boiler or when an appliance breaks down and you need to find the cash to replace it.
A savvy way to plan for that potential scenario would be to consider the idea of using a home warranty company so that you won’t have to worry when one of your appliances goes wrong and needs fixing or replacing.
Although you will be paying a monthly cost in return for this sort of peace of mind you will often find that the monthly outlay can be insignificant in comparison to the amount you might have to pay to get a problem fixed.
Keeping your energy bills under control
The harsh financial reality is that loyalty to your energy supplier rarely pays and if you want to keep your bills under control and pay the least amount possible for your gas and electricity you need to be prepared to shop around for better deals on a regular basis.
It can be a tiresome process trawling around for prices and trying to work out which tariff is the best for your needs but you can usually get someone else to do all of the legwork if you use a comparison site.
Even if your energy supplier offers you a more competitive deal when the current one ends, don’t sign up automatically without checking what other deals are available to you elsewhere.
If you let your current deal expire and move on to their standard tariff you could see your bills dramatically increase, which is why you should set a reminder in your diary and check what energy deals are available before your current deal expires.
This simple process for keeping your energy bills under greater control should see you save a decent sum of money each year, which could be put to better use when you are able to put more cash into your savings.
Simple energy-saving tips
As well as trimming your energy bills by shopping around you can also save on running costs in other ways too.
Turning the dial on the thermostat down by just one degree centigrade would be barely noticeable inside your home but each degree equates to about a 10% saving off your heating bill.
Bulb technology has evolved and the latest versions are far more energy-efficient than their predecessors so it makes a lot of sense to ditch any incandescent bulbs you still have in your home and replace them with LED.
Insulating your home is a real no-brainer and the cost of insulating materials for your roof space and walls is relatively inexpensive when you consider the long-term savings you will achieve.
Filling the cavities in your wall will also deliver a tangible saving when it comes to annual energy costs and if you are planning to stay in your home for the foreseeable future it makes perfect sense to invest in insulation measures that will save you money and keep your home warm.
Turn off the tech
It is all too easy to plug in your TV or phone charger and simply leave it turned on ready for use, but what many of us don’t appreciate is that even when your TV is turned off and you are not using your computer, for instance, a small amount of energy is still being drawn.
If you don’t want to make it as easy as possible to turn off your gadgets when they are not in use you might want to invest in some smart plus that you control via an app on your smartphone.
The annual saving you achieve by turning off items at the plug when not in use is not massive but every little helps and it helps prevent the prospect of an accidental fire as well.
Is money flowing out of your taps?
Another key cost area to target in your home is what you are spending on water and how you can reduce the amount you use for the sake of the planet as well as your wallet.
Installing a water meter will help you to monitor your levels of usage and it should save you money when you are only paying for what you use rather than relying on an estimated annual usage charge.
The cost of showering and bathing can soon add up and there are some simple steps you can take to keep your cost down.
Simply replacing your old shower head with a modern water-efficient version should deliver noticeable savings and other initiatives likes installing shower timers and tap inserts all help to ensure that you are as smart as possible with your water requirements.
One of the worst culprits for wasted costs in your home is a dripping tap and you will probably be surprised to discover that you will waste more than 5,000 liters of water per year for every dripping tap, which is almost 25 fully-filled bathtubs going to waste.
Never miss a discount
In normal times, when leisure options are available such as a trip to the movies or a meal out, you want to try and enjoy a great night out for the least amount of money possible.
Whether it is regular shopping or taking a break with a nice meal, you can often find a discount code or coupon that can help you to save money off your bill.
There is no shame in producing a voucher that takes 20% of your restaurant bill, for example, and if you sign up for all the loyalty cards and discount offers you might be interested in these can soon help you to spend less on having a good time.
Being in control of your finances and having more money to put toward a brighter future for you and your family is definitely achievable if you are savvy with your spending habits and it also gives you peace of mind, and you can’t put a price on that.