Why Financially Plan? Tracking your income & expenditure gives you a road map to follow. Financial Planning allows you to plan for the future. Knowing where your money goes each month, and the savings you can make gives you certainty for achieving your goals. When you can build your savings, you’ll also have a cushion, in case the unexpected happens.

1. Know Your numbers

Financial Analysis
Before you try to reduce your spending, track it. Financial Planning means understanding your current situation, not just making changes.
  • Track your spending for 3 weeks.
  • Don’t change anything.
  • Be honest about every cent.

2. Keep A

Spending

Diary

  • Do you have triggers – lunches, clothes, video games, drinks?
  • Do you spend more or less on some things than you thought?
  • How many Direct Debits and Subscriptions do you have?
  • Use apps like fudget or just a spread sheet or a notebook.
  • Use online banking to look at the previous months. Make sure you account for all purchases.

3. Colour Code budget

  • Not all spending is equal. Here’s how to use Financial Planning to split your spending into three groups:

ORANGE

  • Fixed
  • Regular
  • Non-Negotiable
  • Rent
  • Mortgage
  • Debts
  • Loans

Yellow

  • Less Fixed
  • Regular
  • Needs planning to change
  • Utilities
  • Phones
  • Subscriptions
  • Contracts

Green

  • Flexible
  • Frequent / Regular
  • Needs little effort to change
  • Groceries
  • Recreation
  • Grooming & Clothes

4. Income & Expenditure

Fiach & Angela: Case Study
  • Fiach & Angela, 26, have a combined income of €4,500 per month.
  • Their rent is €1,550 per month.
  • They have a car loan of €300 per month.
  • They spend €100 per month on their phones.
  • Their utilities, like broadband & electricity, cost €300 per month.
  • They have a life insurance policy that costs €51 per month.
  • Their groceries cost roughly €700 per month.
  • They spend roughly €712 on clothes, recreation, etc.
  • Between public transport & taxis, they spend €100 per month.
Fiach & Angela want to save for a mortgage. First, they’ll need to clear their loan. Right now, they only have a surplus each month of €76.90. We can build a chart that shows how much they spend, and colour code it:
This shows us that Fiach & Angela spend:
  • 46.3% on Orange, fixed expenditure;
  • 14% on Yellow, monthly expenditure;
  • 37.8% on Green, flexible expenditure;
  • 1.9% is left as the Surplus.
Now Fiach & Angela can clearly see that they can adjust their Green expenditure. They can make savings here to bring down their loan quicker. If they clear their loan, they’ll be able to save €376.90 per month, for a total of €4,522.80 per year.

5. Switching & Saving

Act Daily, So You Can Plan Yearly

Look at your Spending Diary:

  • How many Direct Debits do you have, and what do they do?
  • Check your contracts and subscriptions. Do you need them all?
Example: Simon pays €40 per month for his TV package, and also pays for 3 streaming services at €50 per month. Does he need both? He could save €480 – €600 per year, but, his TV package is on a contract, so he’ll need to remember the cancellation fee.
If you think you can get a better deal, or want to get rid of an expense altogether:
  • Mark when the contract is up in your calendar
  • Compare providers for the best deal
  • Change when your contract is up
Or, if you want to cancel an expense altogether:
  • Check how long until your contract runs out
  • Check the cancellation fee
  • If the fee costs less than your bill until the end of your contract, can you afford to cancel now, rather than later?

6. Spread Big Yearly Payments

Example: Car Costs

Caoimhe runs a car she owns outright, so she doesn’t have to worry about a loan each month. Unfortunately, between August & September, Caoimhe receives bills for:
Motor Tax:€390
Car Insurance:€1,500
NCT:€55
Servicing & Repair:€800
Total:€2,778
Every year, she gets stressed out, sometimes has to borrow money from her parents, and finds it a struggle to make sure she pays everything in time.
What Can Caoimhe Do For Next Year?
  • She can start saving now for her car costs
  • Saving €232 p/m for a year will cover all her costs, based on last year.
  • If €232 is too much, €150 p/m is more affordable for Caoimhe.
  • This will cover her tax & insurance.
  • If Caoimhe can pay her tax & insurance in one payment, she can avoid paying interest on monthly payments
  • This interest can be as high as 20%, so Caoimhe could be saving €378 per year.

7. Setting Your Targets

Achieving Your Goals:

  • Don’t just tell yourself to spend less.
  • Decide to save this amount, by doing that: If you bought a pack of crisps each day at lunch, for .85¢, 5 days a week, you could save €204 per year by cutting it out.
  • Set yourself Short-Term, Middle-Term & Long-Term goals.
  • Short-Term goals can be as simple as cutting out a bad habit, and saving that money.
  • Middle-Term goals can be switching your contracts for a better deal.
  • Your Long-Term goals can be anything from a savings goal, clearing your debt, or building the deposit on your home.
  • Short and Middle-Term goals are the small steps that will help you get there.

8. More Ideas

Let’s get started!

Challenge Yourself:

  • Look at your bank statements from this month last year. Can you spend less, and beat that month?
  • Try a day per week where you spend nothing.
  • The week after a bank holiday is the perfect time to try meal planning. Your weekend is longer, and your week is shorter.
  • Like car costs, plan some spending yearly & keep a separate account for this fund.
  • Give yourself a fixed amount each year to spend on clothes or grooming. Do you have options to repair, rather than replace?
  • Planning ahead can allow you to purchase better quality replacements, which will last longer.

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