The 4 week money fitness course all summed up into 1 meaty article.

By Charlotte Yau
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Here's our quick round-up of the past month's money course! All the key takeaways you need to know here.

Here at giffgaff money, we like to make things simple for our members, with our members in mind. That's why we've created a summary of our 4 week money course. This helpful guide will provide you all the top tips & tricks we have been feeding you over that last month. Enjoy. 

Week 1

1. Getting the right tools

From the web: the money advice service tool is free, simple and works on mobile and desktop. Get one of these onto your phone and you’re already on your way to success.

App based: there are a whole host of free apps to choose from check out our list of the top ones

 

2. Downloading your banks mobile banking app

Being able to see what you’ve spent is vital to keeping your money healthy. Once you’ve got your budgeting app to help you, download your bank’s app so you can check your balance pretty much anytime. 

 

3. Understanding your payslip & your income

Tot it all up, and work out what the government takes from that each month so you know (accurately) what you’ll have left.

Need a hand understanding your payslip? Check out our jargon guide.

 

4. Cutdown on those spendings

Your budgeting app will help you do this but try and think of the following:

- Monthly bills: rent, electric, mobile. You’ll soon find these become the bulk of your monthly spending.

- Yearly costs: somethings you only pay for once a year and forgetting about these can catch you out. Think car insurance, MOT, birthdays, Christmas spending.

- What you spend on just living. Think food, coffees, going out. Here’s our list on how to have fun for less.

 

5. Put it all in a budget planner

Now that you have all your information lined up put it all into your budgeting app (see step 1) The app will do all the heavy lifting for you.

Week 2

1. Those annoying monthly bills

Gas and electricity: On average people who switch save up to £200. Read our guide on how to do it here.

Water supplier: you can’t switch but you could save.

Mobile phone: is there a cheaper way to do it? Check out these useful tips.

Broadband and TV: okay so this might sound like sacrilege to some people, but there are ways of getting great TV while not needing to pay an arm and a leg for it find out more here.

 

2. Anual expenses

One simple tip here: NEVER AUTO-RENEW your car/house/contents/pet/life (delete as appropriate) insurance. The insurance industry loves you to stay where you are and not to switch but what you paid last year is not necessarily what you should pay this year. You could nab yourself a better deal. 

 

3. What luxuries can you give up?

Here's a few to inspire you to do the right thing.

Gym: it sounds an obvious place to start but when did you last use it? Or has a cheaper one opened up in your area? In cities, try the local council’s gym offering as opposed to any of the chains.

TV: many of us can’t live without Netflix or Amazon Prime these days, but do we need both? Could I cancel one and restart it when the next series of House of Cards starts?

Music: do you really need Spotify AND Apple Music? Could you downgrade to the free service and bear the ads for a few months to save a bit of cash?

Games: over World of Warcraft? Not enough time for the Old Republic? Just maybe there are some you could live without?

Online magazine subscriptions: any you can live without?

 

4. Starting a savings habit & ditching those living expenses

You may be shocked at how much you spend on things you simply don’t need. Some key areas to think of:

Coffee, Eating out, Magazines, Clothes, Take away's.

Want to go pro? Try keeping a spending diary for a week - it’s a bit of a horror show but it’ll really lay bare what you’re spending

Week 3

1. Understanding your account & consider switching. 

In the black? Find the account that offers the best interest rates so your cash is making even more money. See some top picks here

Overdrawn? Work out what you’re paying each month for using your overdraft. Look for an account with the lowest fees, or even an interest-free overdraft. See some top picks here

 

2. Consider a switching bonus

Even if your current bank is fine, it might be worth switching to a new one just to get the joining bonus. See some of the top picks here

 

3. Understanding your debt position

 Being able to tell when that debt is becoming a problem is vitally important. Here are two tell-tale signs:

- You’re borrowing more to pay off existing debts.

- You’re paying for bills with credit cards, loans or overdrafts.

 

4. Be sure before you start borrowing 

Some key things to check before you borrow

- Are you eligible? Check out an eligibility tool like this one.

- How much will the repayments be? Here’s another tool to do that.

- Can you afford it? Yep, there’s another tool to do that.

 

5. Start them savings

Saving might be easier than you think and who knows, after last week’s email, you might end up with some money left over at the end of the month. See our beginners guide to saving.

Already have savings? Make them sweat by checking out our maximizing savings guide.

Week 4

1. Understanding what your credit score is

A credit score comes from your credit report. It’s a record of all the ways you’ve accessed credit or borrowed money, both now and in the past. So it’s not just credit cards and loans, it’s also stuff like your energy bills and mobile phone contract. Your repayment history is there too, so whether you pay on-time or have outstanding debts, companies use the reports to assess the risk (and the profit) in lending you more money.

 

2. Getting your credit score

We’ve got just the tool for you! Check your score for free with us. It won’t leave a footprint and you’ll be able to see exactly how you look to potential lenders. Get yours here.

 

3. Stop the bad habits on your credit score

There are five big factors that could be hurting your credit score

1. Making a lot of credit applications close together.

2. Paying bills late or missing loan repayments.

3. Too much debt.

4. Joint accounts with someone who has bad credit.

5. Record of payday loans if you’re applying for a mortgage.

Doing some of these? Find out how to fix them here.

 

4. 10 ways to boost your credit score

Quick actions:

1. Register to vote.

2. Make sure all your accounts are under the same name, address and phone number.

3. Check for errors on your file.

4. Close credit you don’t use.

5. ‘Disassociate’ yourself from anyone you’ve had shared accounts or bills with in the past.

Good habits:

6. Clear debts.

7. Pay bills on time.

8. Use a soft credit/eligiblity check before applying for credit cards.

9. Use your credit card a little and pay it off in full each month.

10. Use a credit building card.

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