This new monthly franchise is here to impart some much needed real talk when it comes to money. Speaking to financial pros and money saving experts, Money Talks will dispel mortgage myths, break down fiscal barriers and help you stop being a baby when it comes to your bank account...
In the interest of transparency, I have zero savings to my name, unless you count the glass jar of coins that lives on the floor and gets added to intermittently when I find a 2p (or any form of international currency) on the floor, so actually, there’s approximately 10 quid in my savings portfolio. 11.31 in euros.
Instead, all of the money I’ve ‘collected’ languishes in a current account where it’s doing nothing beneficial. Yes, it’s a constant reminder that I’m not doing too badly – I’m finally overdraft free – but after years of trying to escape the feeling that at any point I’m about to go over my overdraft, I decided that having maximum funds in my current account was the safest way to keep track of my funds. Safe, but also very, very stupid.
If you too, are that person (no judgement here), Josie Clapham – Head of Customer Banking at Barclays is here to help guide you on what to do with your money and how to start saving wisely. AKA, stop using your current account as a holding pen and get an ISA and/or savings account, because newsflash! It makes you money…
Is there a set amount that we should be saving per month?
“As a rule of thumb, we should all be setting a little aside each month into a ‘rainy day pot’. Having this buffer means you can focus on enjoying life rather than worrying about how you are going to pay for those unexpected bills.
Beyond this, what you should save is completely down to you and your goals. Whether you have a big summer holiday planned, or are trying to get on the property ladder, work out how much you need and how long you have – this will give you an indication of what you need to be setting aside each month to hit your future targets.”
My tip is to spend a month making a note of your ‘official’ outgoings, like rent, household bills, travel, phone etc, as they’re pretty much static month on month. Next, calculate your ‘unofficial’ (as in, more flexible and therefore easier to cut back on) outgoings like food, coffees, clothes, toiletries, and you will clearly be able to map out what is achievable to save each month. Unless you have a base figure to start with, you can’t work out an achievable monthly savings plan.
Are there simple ways to save daily?
“Absolutely. First of all, you need to look at what you are spending, so you can then work out some swaps which will save you money.
Go through your monthly expenses and see if you can strike out anything you aren’t using and might not have even remembered you were paying for. Also look to switch some things where you aren’t getting value for money. For example, if you are paying a high monthly gym fee but rarely go, why not switch to more cost effective class packs and bank the difference.
And don’t forget the small things. Are you spending lots of money on lunches or coffees and can you switch them for homemade options? These little things will quickly add up to bigger savings.”
To keep track of all this, get your banking app downloaded onto your phone for easy, real-time access to your account.
Should I have separate savings accounts?
“Getting into a good savings habit takes willpower, and it can be really hard not to spend when the money is sitting in your current account. Therefore, it can be really helpful to move your money to a separate savings account where it is out of temptation’s way. A great tactic is to set up a standing order on payday that puts some of your money straight into your savings.
Better yet, if you put your money into a savings account, in most cases you will get interest on what you’re putting away.”
So, what’s the difference between a savings account and an ISA?
“An ISA is an Individual Savings Account – it allows you to save money in a tax-efficient way. With Barclays, you can start saving into an ISA with as little as £1. You can use your annual ISA Allowance (currently £20,000 for 2018/19) in one tax year, without being taxed on the interest your ISA makes.
Alternatively, you can go for different savings accounts such as an Instant Access savings product these are not ‘tax-free’ so you might have to pay tax (check with your provider for specific t&c’s).”
For example, if you’re looking to buy a house, it’s worth opening a Help to Buy ISA now; all you need is £1 to activate one. The special savings ISA is closing to new applicants once the 30th November 2019 deadline hits, which means if you haven’t opened one by the cut off date, you could lose up to £3,000 free (!) towards your first mortgage.