According to Barclays, a third of us do not even open our bank statements, so tackling bigger tasks like mortgages and pensions are really low down the priority list.
However, experts say that keeping on top of financial admin can make a big difference to your bank balance, and needn’t take up too much of your time. Here are five tips from expert money managers on how they tackle their financial admin, and how you can get on top of yours too.
David Pugh advises both a weekly and a monthly check, especially since technology means that many of us now don’t know what we spend.
“With contactless cards now and few people keeping receipts, it's very easy to lose track of your spend and find that at the end of the month you've gone into an overdraft,” he says.
Mr Pugh does a monthly audit that he calls the ‘income vs outgoing test’.
“Look at what's coming in and what the outgoings are. Necessities such as bills, food and transport costs should take priority. Work out what you have left over and then divide it by four so you know how much you have to spend each week. Take this amount out in cash every week, so you're not tempted to overspend. If you can, set aside a small amount for savings - even £30 a month soon builds up.”
Charlotte Beugge says that spending ten minutes setting up a simple automation with your bank could pay dividends.
“Set up a sweep on your current account so that the day before pay day any spare cash moves into a separate, linked account,” she advises. Most banks offer this service for free. But don’t stop there, especially in the current low interest-rate environment.
“Don’t leave too much in this account – you won’t get much interest on it. Shift it into a better-paying account or think about drip feeding into an ISA or SIPP,” she advises.
Little and often is the key, especially when it comes to what arrives through the letterbox.
“Sorting out your financial paperwork is a bit like to trying to get fit; it is far better to do little and often than to try to cram in a year’s worth into one afternoon. If you get in the habit of going through any post each week, it should only take minutes and will mean you spot any headaches ahead of time,” she says.
“Use emails and letters as a prompt” says Faith Archer.
“Financial admin only becomes a nightmare if you let it build up. If I get a pension statement, investment summary or junior ISA update, I’ll nip online to see if it’s up, down or sideways, and whether it’s vaguely on track with market movements.
If I get a letter about an interest rate cut or regular savings account ending, I check if I can earn extra elsewhere, open a new account, and move the money. Even tackling one item a month really adds up over the year, and helps me to make the most of my money.”
“Use an old school spreadsheet”, says Patrick Connolly.
“My three main financial planning priorities are paying into my company pension scheme, paying into an ISA and paying off my mortgage. I manage all three online and have a spreadsheet where I regularly update values of each as well as information on my insurance policies.”
Many of us are particularly daunted by investing, since it often seems that you need to give a lot of thought to the right times to invest, as well as what to invest in.
Regular investing can be one way to ensure that investing does not take up too much headspace. If you set up a direct debit into an investment product such as a SIPP or an ISA, and choose a well-diversified portfolio of funds or shares in the first instance, drip feeding money in monthly can help to make sure that you do not fall victim to market volatility. That is because you are investing the same amount in times of market strength and weakness, and this averages out over time.
Selftrade does not provide investment advice. This article is the authors view and is not the view or opinion of Selftrade and Selftrade accepts no liability for any loss caused as a result of the use of this information. The opinions expressed are those of the author at the time of writing and should not be interpreted as investment advice.
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