We all live busy lifestyles nowadays, and unfortunately, that often means we’re too busy to take care of our personal finances. But it’s important that we don’t neglect this area – in fact, it’s one of the areas we should all try and spend a lot more time on… after all, the health of your finances can determine the lifestyle you live! So, to help make things a little easier for you, here’s a guide containing five top tips to help you improve your personal finances.

Check your budget
One of the easiest ways to check the health of your finances is to think about how they’re doing towards the end of every month… are you left with spare money? Or are you struggling to get by?

Before making any major changes to the way you manage your finances, you should check your budget. You need to work out if it really represents how you spend your money each month. If you’re struggling (and often having to dip into your overdraft, for example), you need to take a detailed look at how you’re handling your money – because something might be going wrong somewhere. On the other hand, if you’re left with spare money, why not invest this into a savings account, for example? This should significantly help you improve your personal finances.

Account for every penny
This point ties nicely into the budgeting point mentioned above. Have a think about whether you know exactly where every penny goes each month – not just the big things like mortgage and utility bills, but smaller things like coffees and snacks. If you don’t do this, it might be a good idea to try doing it one month. By making the effort to account for every penny you spend each month, you might be able to see where you’re spending too much money on non-essentials, for example. This can really help to ‘tighten’ up your budget and help you live as frugally as you can do.

Think before you buy
When you’re out shopping, you should adopt the golden rule of ‘think before you buy’. It’s all too easy to pick things up and buy them without really thinking about whether we need them or not. So, next time you’re out shopping, have a think about whether you actually need an item before making a purchase. More often than not, you may well find yourself saying ‘no’… and saving money as a result.

Sell what you don’t need
If you’re looking to free up a bit of extra money… why not sell some of the things you don’t need? Think of it like a ‘jumble sale’! Go through your possessions and have a think about what you need and what you don’t need.

Of course, you won’t want to sell everything just because you don’t need it (we all like to keep some of the things we ‘want’ – a television, for example!), but you should be able to find a few things to sell. You could even repeat this process every 6-12 months or so to free up more money.

Is your money working for you?
Have a think about whether your money is working for you. Are you getting the most out of the money you’re saving, for example? If not, why is this?
We often just pay money into a savings account and leave it there to gather interest, but if your account isn’t the ‘market-leading account’ – and it doesn’t offer other benefits that you see as more important than the actual interest rate – why are you saving your money there? It’ll do you no harm to move your money around every now and again to get the most out of it – what’s more, it’s (usually) free to do… and it could really pay off.