January is a great time to take stock and think about the things we’d like to change and the areas we’d like to focus on in the new year. As always, finances are at the forefront of my mind as this year comes to an end. I’ve been working on budgeting better this year and I want to fine tune this even more in the new year. We have a number of savings goals that we’re working towards. We’d like to get a family holiday in 2018, something we’ve already started saving for but we still have a fair way to go if we want to get away in the summer. We also have a longer term goal to move to our forever home hopefully in 2021. This may seem like a long time away but we’re being realistic and planning ahead financially.
I’ve talked before about how important it is to budget and to make sure you know where all of your money goes each month. If you want to have any hope of saving money, then you need to have a good grasp of how much you spend on bills, food, petrol, clothes, outings and everything else that demands you sticking your hand in your wallet. That way, you can work out exactly how much money you can afford to stash away and figure out any areas where you can cut back in order to boost your savings.
I was recently introduced to the Squirrel app – a Barclays-held account that splits your salary up into your bills, savings, and a weekly allowance to spend on whatever you like. Anything that helps us to keep on track financially is always welcomed in our house and this app is a great way to take control and really rein in your spending.
How the Squirrel App can help with your savings goals
I know how hard it can be to budget. No matter how hard you try, there’s always something that comes along and scuppers all of your hard work. The Squirrel app is a great way to take control of your finances and can be a nifty tool in helping to meet your savings goals.
Squirrel is a bank account that you control via an app. When you sign up, you arrange for your salary to be paid into your new account. Now this is where your budgeting really becomes important. Any money needed for bills is kept in your squirrel account until the day before the bill is due to be paid, when it’s then sent to your bank account to cover the costs. This means you’re far less likely to accidentally spend money you need to pay important bills. Spending money is sent to your account to cover outings etc, you’ll need to determine how much you’ll need and how often you want it paying to your account. I tend to budget weekly as I find if I try to budget our spending for the full month, then we’ll overspend at the beginning of the month and be stretching the pennies towards the end.
Once you’ve established your outgoings and set up your figures, your savings will automatically be kept safe within the savings goals part of your account. The beauty of this is that your savings are kept back from your salary each month, they never enter your main bank account. This lessens the temptation to dip into it. This makes it so much easier to save as you don’t feel the pain of the money disappearing from your account.
It’s fantastic to see your savings building up and if you’ve got a savings goal like I have, then it’s great to see the amount creeping up each month. I always feel motivated to save more when I can see the amount mounting up. This urges me on to make extra savings throughout the month and cut back on things where we can.
Sometimes my monthly wages can vary, I may work extra hours or take on extra work. Squirrel then stashes the extra cash away helping you to meet your savings goal early.
What if life gets in the way and you need your money early?
In spite of our best plans, New Year’s resolutions can be difficult to stick to. Where finances are involved, you never know when an unexpected bill will crop up. So what happens if the car breaks down and you need to access the money in your Squirrel savings? Hopefully, you’ve already got an emergency fund to one side to cover it. However, if not, and you really do need to access your Squirrel funds, then you can simply cash out your money and it’ll arrive in your bank account the next working day.
Reaching your savings goal
So, by the summer of 2018, I want us to have enough money for the five of us to have a week away somewhere. I still need to figure out exactly where we plan to go and how much it’s likely to cost so that I can set my savings goal.
Squirrel has a handy savings goal bar that fills up as money gets added to your savings. Once the bar is full, then you’ve reached your goal, yay!
Is it safe?
You can’t be too careful when it comes to making sure your money is safe.
Squirrel is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), powered by Barclays, and partially funded by the Cabinet Office. All of this means that you can relax in the knowledge that your money is completely safe.
So, what are you saving towards?
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