FAQ Friday: I am having difficulty managing my money. How can I get on top of my finances?

July 28, 2023

On the last Friday of every month, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) from the thousands of consumers who contact us. This month, we offer our top tips and advice to help you manage your money a little more effectively.

I want to get my finances in shape – where is the best place to start?

While managing your money can be very difficult in a cost of living crisis, the best place to start is by carrying out a financial health check. First, list out your income sources, such as your wages or your social welfare payments. Then, write out your main outgoings like mortgage/rent, utility bills, plus any loan repayments you may have. You should also estimate your monthly spend on food, transport, entertainment and other costs.

Top Tip

Looking back at your online banking or credit card statements can help you make these estimates. You may find our spending calculator helpful when trying to cut back on your everyday expenses.

Using the income and expenditure list you created, draw up a monthly budget to work out what you are spending your money on. Our budget planner will help you get started.

How do I get on top of my bills?

If you are concerned about paying your bills or meeting your expenses, prioritising them may help you feel more in control. You should rank your bills and expenses based on their importance. For example, your mortgage or rent would rank higher in priority than your TV or broadband.

Figure out which expenses you can afford to meet comfortably and whether there are others that may need to be reduced or negotiated. If you are struggling to pay a large energy bill, check with your provider to see if there are any reductions you can get. Some utility providers offer discounts if you choose paperless bills or you may be able to avail of a payment plan to spread the cost of your bill.

Learn more about prioritising your bills, state supports, and who to contact if you need help or advice.

Are there any places where I can save money?

When reviewing your finances, you should look for places where you can save money, such as unused subscriptions or membership services.

You can also try to save money on your utilities or other services. Before signing up for or renewing a service, take time to compare your options to see if you are getting the best deal. You should also shop around for the best deals on your current or savings account, credit card, insurance providers and even your mortgage.

Use our Money Tools to compare the costs and benefits of different current accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages and loans.

How do I make the most out of the money I have saved?

If you do have some money left over at the end of the month, you should think about your short- and long-term financial goals. Do you have an emergency fund in case of unexpected costs? Have you cleared your car or home improvement loan? Have you a plan for retirement, or have you been meaning to start a pension?

Top Tip

You’re more likely to stick to a savings plan if you open a savings account and set up a monthly direct debit to come out on payday.

Of course, depending on your income, it may be very hard to avoid being short of money at the end of the month, even with the best budgeting in the world. If you’re finding it difficult to make ends meet, it might help to talk to someone in the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

For more information on budgeting, check out our Money Hub.
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