Career Advice

How to make the most of your finances: Banking, budgeting, and long-term saving

If you ask most people why they work, they’ll probably tell you for the money. This is a reasonable answer, but also an incomplete one. When thinking of one’s personal finances, it’s important to look past the immediate goal of simply earning money. One must also think of how to budget and save for the long term. After all, you’ve worked hard to earn it, why not make the most of it? This may sound daunting, but it’s actually pretty easy. Below, we’ve highlighted what we consider to be the three pillars of personal finance – banking, budgeting and long-term savings – to help you think more holistically about your money. We’ve also provided recommendations for free or fairly-priced financial products to help you get the most mileage out of every pound.

Laughing All the Way to the Digital Bank

Unless you hide money under your mattress, chances are you’ve already got a bank account. But what kind of bank account do you have? Over the last couple of years, fintech companies like N26, Revolut, and Monzo have begun to disrupt the banking industry. All of these banks are direct banks, meaning they operate without brick and mortar branches. Current accounts can be opened for free from the comfort of your own home. All that’s required is a smart phone to download an app.

Picture of a smartphone displaying a digital banking app.

The ease with which one can open an account with all of these banks is a unique selling point in and of itself. However, other noteworthy perks include free ATM withdrawals, no fee currency exchange, the ability to buy cryptocurrencies and more. Additionally, all of these banks offer friendly, responsive customer service to make your banking experience as frictionless as possible.

This Isn’t Your Grandad’s Budget

This is where things can get tricky. Work is hard, but its reward (money) is sweeter. And it comes as a welcome recompense for the countless hours one spends earning it. But it’s hard to justify the sweetness of instant gratification if it inevitably leads to financial hardship.  Luckily, one can easily avoid such dire straits by taking advantage of one of the several budgeting apps available on the market.

Photo of coins being firmly held in a clamp. Next to the money is a calculator. Underneath both items is a finance spreadsheet.

Revolut comes complete with a budgeting feature so you can track your expenses and set aside funds for things like groceries and restaurants. However, if you’d like to go the extra mile and get a dedicated app specifically for budgeting, be sure to check out Yolt. This handy app allows you to connect all your banking accounts on one platform, view detailed summaries of your transactions, set budgets, track subscriptions, compare utility bill prices and much more! And the best part? It’s totally free!

If you play your cards right after budgeting, you’ll have some money (or potentially a lot) left at the end of each month. Once again, you may feel tempted to reward yourself for your financial prudence by treating yourself to a nice meal, new clothes or some other such luxury. But wait! There’s one last thing you need to do to make the most of your money: invest it!

Save It for a Rainy Day

Investing is like flossing and eating your vegetables, it’s one of those things you just have to do if you want to have a healthy, balanced life. Fortunately, there are services now that make investing easier and less painful than flossing! Seriously!

Picture of a woman holding a piggy bank. Next to the piggy bank there are coins.

Long-term investment companies like Wealthsimple and Vantik both use exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to invest your money via the stock market across a diverse portfolio. The hardest thing you have to do is decide how much you want to invest and they’ll handle the rest. There’s no minimum investment amount required, which means that you can stash away even five pounds a month if that’s all you have to spare. The financial growth Vantik aims for is more modest than some of the options at Wealthsimple, but comes with an extra layer of protection to make sure a recession at your retirement won’t put your savings at risk. Furthermore, unlike most long-term investment accounts, if you decide to withdraw your money for whatever reason, Wealthsimple and Vantik allow you to do so with no questions asked and zero fees! Now that is financial freedom.

Pretty simple stuff, right? Getting your finances in order might sound complicated, but thanks to pioneering fintech companies, the process of getting your fiscal ducks in a row has never been easier. All you need is a smartphone and a bit of patience. The rest practically takes care of itself!