Question of Finance: What can I do to better manage my finances?
Q: I'm finding it impossible to manage my money. I never have anything left at the end of the month as there is always some expense I wasn't expecting. How can I manage my debts better?
A: Budgeting allows you to make sure that you are spending less than you earn, and it also allows you to spend money without having to worry about whether or not this will interfere with future outgoings.
List all your regular outgoings -- mortgage, loans and utility bills.
Having a look at previous bills can help estimate your bills for the coming year. Work out how much you have to spend and stick within that budget.
To help you keep within your budget, deal in cash and try not to use your credit card. This can help you avoid temptation as you can't spend what you don't have.
If you do use your credit card, ensure that you can clear the monthly bill. Don't just pay the minimum monthly instalment as this will cost you more in interest.
Don't be influenced to take out credit. Interest-free credit can seem attractive, but if you don't pay on time or miss a payment, you could have to pay a lot more.
If you really need to make a large purchase, consider all your options, as a short-term loan could be cheaper than putting it on your credit card, though you need to ensure the instalments are within your budget.
Also, don't be tempted by extended warranties as the cost of a repair could be less than the price of a warranty. Most importantly, make sure you are getting the best price that is available.
Check out price comparison sites and websites such as irishdeals.blogspot.com that list shops that offer discounts.
Brian Douglas is manager of Greystones Credit Union, a member of CUDA (Credit Union Development Association).