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‘Delete your shopping apps’: 6 people share smart solutions to their money mistakes

And how to keep your ‘micro-debits’ in check each month.

Image: Unsplash

TINY GRATER YOU SAY? At-home teeth-whitening kit? Well, I’ve always wanted one… Ever been scrolling through Instagram on the way to work and suddenly you’ve made a purchase you absolutely didn’t need?

Getting your bank account to a point where you’re actually saving and not just spending isn’t the easiest thing to do – you have to be smart about it. That’s why we’ve been hearing from both the experts and real people about how to get your finances in order.

But how can we be a bit smarter about our not-so-great money habits? We asked people to share theirs – everything from being afraid to check your bank balance to ignoring your subscription charges. And most importantly – how to fix them with smarter habits.

Mistake 1: Letting my balance drop too quickly each month
Solution: Setting myself achievable savings goals

yvens-banatte-71993-unsplash Source: Unsplash

My biggest mistake was not knowing where my money was actually going each month – now I do up a spreadsheet of my rough budget for the year which has helped massively, where I set savings milestones. At first I logged every purchase but it’s not realistic to track everything so I check in each month to see how I’m doing.

I had milestones of being debt-free by June, getting through the year without touching my 7-day notice account, and then adding at least €2,000 to it. I also had smaller goals working out how much I would save if I bought my cereal in cheaper supermarkets, set a €3 limit on my lunches set a €2.50 per dinner batch-cooking aim. Tapping for coffee was the worst – I just keep a €2.50 x 5 days x 4 weeks x 12 months = €600 figure in my head.

- Nicky

Mistake 2: Failing to adjust my spending for an income change
Solution: Getting the bank app on my phone

bence-boros-343468-unsplash Source: Unsplash

Mine was definitely being too scared to check my bank balance – it made a big difference when I got my bank’s app on my phone – now I can check the balance without logging in. A few years ago I was in a job where a lot of us got our hours cut and I ended up paying my rent with fewer work hours. Because I was still working a little I didn’t realise how much was going out versus coming in, so I lost nearly all of my money.

I mean, it would have happened anyway because I still wasn’t earning enough, but it was a massive shock and I’m still trying to claw back my savings. I definitely spend less overall now – and I’ve set up a savings account where I transfer a chunk of my paycheck as soon as I’m paid so I can’t use it. It’s way easier to do that through the app so I do it straight away now.

- Zuzia

Mistake 3: Being floored by irregular expenses
Solution: Putting money aside each month for them

annie-spratt-96526-unsplash Source: Unsplash

My biggest mistake in the past was not planning for big expenses so nowadays I have started to treat certain expenses like savings. Once I get paid, enough to cover my bills gets put aside, and the same goes for things like holidays, gigs, presents (even €30-€50 a month can add up). 

This means there’s less of a big hit for birthdays, Christmas, or booking holidays. I use the ClearCheckbook app to keep track of spending and also to set reminders about upcoming expenses and bills. It allows me to ‘set up’ accounts for the above to ‘transfer’ money into – i.e. it’s still in my current account but I treat it like I don’t have it. It’s made a big difference.

- Mark

Mistake 4: Letting my ‘micro-debits’ drain my account
Solution: Cancelling any you don’t need (with the bank)

campaign-creators-1167002-unsplash (1) Source: Unsplash

Direct debits and recurring payments are two things that I think everyone needs to keep on top of. They get buried into your transaction list, but add up. Often people don’t understand the sheer volume of debits that are coming out of their account. Even just a few small subscriptions (I call them ‘micro-debits’) can really add up.

If you do cancel any direct debits, be sure to check your account afterwards to check that the cancellation has gone through with the bank, rather than just the company. If you still have several monthly subscriptions, check if any of them cancel each other out or cross over, as you may be paying two separate companies for the same service (e.g. music and videos can both be streamed on Amazon Prime).

- Dave

Mistake 5: Giving in to my online shopping habit
Solution: Deleting apps and taking photos of potential buys

heather-ford-528936-unsplash Source: Unsplash

It would have to be shopping (excessively) for clothes. For years I used to waste so much of my money on clothes simply because it was a habit.  I’ve by no means gone cold turkey but there are a few things that have helped. When I’m on a strict budget, I delete shopping apps from my phone. I usually use them like I would Instagram or Twitter – just scrolling. When they’re not there, I find something else to do instead, like read.

I’ve also unsubscribed from retailers who email daily/multiple times per week about discounts as I often ended up buying things I didn’t need. Lastly, if I’m shopping in store and see something I like but don’t need, I take a picture of it. That way, I know I can still go back and look at it to decide if I like it. Usually, I forget about it straight away. This has saved me so much money over the past few months – it’s probably my best tip.

- Amy

Mistake 6: Struggling to find a budgeting method I can stick to
Solution: Making use of apps and a ‘spending’ account

juliana-mayo-1418601-unsplash Source: Unsplash

I use the Fudget app and it’s so handy, you put in your income and all of your expenses for the month and it gives you a total of what you’ve spent/what’s left. You can also mark them as paid when you actually pay them off. Budgeting can be really hard to get into but once you find the way that works for you it can really pay off.

I tried for months to use a Google Doc but couldn’t keep on top of it. In the end I started with a notebook and pen and it has made it stick with me, before I found the app which is a bit handier. Also giving myself a dedicated disposable income account every month is 100% keeping me on track (I call mine ‘Mad Money’. I have all of my bills, savings accounted for and then I have ‘Mad Money’ for lunches, nights outs, nails, clothes etc. 

- Laura

Ready to streamline your finances? Lodge €2500 per month and get free day to day banking with a KBC Extra Current Account. No need to maintain a minimum balance either. See here for more.

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Read more: ‘I use top-ups to stop impulse buying’: 8 people share the small changes that helped tidy up their finances

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