Skool Girl called on Nicklin LLP Accountant – Mark Howell to get his top five tips on how to better manage your money from avoiding dodgy phishing scams to the must have apps for tracking your monthly expenditure.
1. Open a savings account
Having a savings account is essential and setting one up will teach you more than you might think about interest rates, banking and finance.
One day if you’re thinking of buying a house or perhaps once you’ve finished University and settled down in a secure job, the Government’s help to buy ISA can help to boost your savings by 25 per cent – which means that, for every £200 you save, you will receive a government bonus of £50.
If you’re not looking that far ahead and you’d just like to save a little money for a rainy day, raid your local high street to see which bank offers the best interest rates on their savings accounts.
2. Shop around for the best interest rate
All banks offering savings accounts will have different interest rates, and finding the best one will ensure that you get the most out of your money.
The easiest way to shop around is to use an online comparison site, such as www.best-savings-rate.co.uk – but be wary that some comparison sites won’t always show up the best deals.
It’s always a good idea to ask your current bank about their savings rates – they might be able to offer you a good deal, and you might even be able to set up the account online. But sometimes, the best rates are to be found elsewhere. If in doubt, hit the high street.
3. Be wary of online purchases and phishing scams
Online shopping is fantastic – but online scams? Not so much. Unfortunately, scams are everywhere on the internet and they’re not always as easy to spot as you might think.
A good rule of thumb is to only buy from reputable websites and only enter sensitive card information on websites your internet browser marks as ‘secure’– usually with a small picture of a padlock in either the top left or bottom right hand corner of your browser.
But be on the lookout for ‘fake’emails from banks, too. Branded emails seemingly from the likes of PayPal and high street banks are on the rise. Remember that a reputable bank will never ask you for your full information or password via email.
“…only enter sensitive card information on websites your internet browser marks as ‘secure’ – usually with a small picture of a padlock in either the top left or bottom right hand corner of your browser.”
4. Start paying small monthly expenses
Nowadays, almost everything is paid for on a month-by-month basis, the earlier you grasp this is the more useful it can be to instill good spending habits for the future.
With many mobile phone contracts and subscriptions to the likes of Amazon and Netflix available for less than £10, or sometimes even less than £5, per month, it’s never too early (or too expensive) to get used to making regular monthly payments – even if you’re a student without any regular income.
5. Download a money management app to track your expenses
Once you’re earning money and paying out monthly expenses, start tracking your monthly income and outgoings.
This can be done either the old fashioned way, i.e. keeping a book of expenses, or, preferably, via money management apps like Mint and GoodBudget, which are both free to download on iPhone and Android. These apps can give you a complete breakdown of your monthly expenses and help you to keep on top of your spending habits.
Cover photo via weheartit