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Five top tips for making the most of your money

30 May 2024

Last week, as part of a series of events to celebrate National Numeracy Day, we took our Big Number Natter on the road and held a ‘Making the Most of Your Money' Big Number Natter live from Tower Hamlets.

Photo of the panellists during the live Big Number Natter

Chaired by National Numeracy Ambassador Timi Merriman-Johnson, founder of Mr MoneyJar, the event panel of money experts included:

  • Claer Barrett, Consumer Editor of the Financial Times,
  • Abigail Foster, Founder of Elent Finance,
  • Sam Sims, CEO, National Numeracy,
  • and Katie Watts, Campaigns and Policy Lead, Money Saving Expert.

The event focused on the power of confidence and numeracy skills in managing money. Our panellists shared their expertise, covering the practical ‘basics’ for using everyday maths skills to manage finances, including budgeting, saving, and debt.

In case you missed it, we’ve rounded up five top tips on using everyday maths skills to manage finances, including budgeting, saving, debt, and good habits.

Get organised

Some of the most important numbers regarding personal finances aren’t the ones on a calculator, but those in your diary. Organisation is key to nailing your personal finances. Give yourself enough time to shop around before having to renew your insurance or compare credit cards. Note on a calendar when certain deals will be ending.Managing your money can feel overwhelming sometimes, so grab yourself a diary or make notes on your phone, and many of your problems may be reduced.

Try the demotivator tactic

If you’re thinking about making a purchase, consider how long you’d have to work to pay for it. This can sometimes be called the ‘demotivator tactic’ because it helps you kick the habits that might be adding up – the daily coffees, or the subscription to the magazine you never end up reading. If you work out that you’d have to work an entire day to pay for something, it might just make you think twice, so value your time as much as your money.

Take your time

We’re often put on the spot when making financial decisions, which can create fear, stress and anxiety. So, it’s vital to take a moment, take a step back, and take your time. Try to resist being rushed into things; everybody learns at different speeds. There’s no shame in admitting that you might need a bit longer to really make an informed decision. If your confidence with numbers is low, then check out the National Numeracy Challenge.

Observe your outgoings

The first rule of budgeting should be observation. When you get to the end of the month, have an honest conversation with yourself, where has all the money gone? Have the confidence to really delve into your accounts. Also, have a look at your phone. Look at the subscriptions – often, those come out in a big chunk, and we’re not always quite sure what they’re for.

Budgeting is a habit

Budgeting is a habit, like any habit, such as going to the gym – you don’t start going five times a week from day one. It starts with small changes and suddenly becomes second nature, like riding a bike. Why don’t you try the 1p challenge? So, on the first of January, you put aside a 1p; the second day, you save 2p; until the 365th day – which amounts to almost £700 (£667 to be exact!). Have a jar by your door for loose change, and round up on your banking apps. Small steps start the habit rolling.

Watch the whole event here:

Try the National Numeracy Challenge

 However you feel about maths, you’re not alone. The National Numeracy Challenge is a free and easy-to-use website you can use to improve your confidence with numbers, in your own time and at your own pace.

It’s ideal for brushing up, checking your level, or for catching up on learning you missed, and it’s all about the maths you need in daily life and at work – no algebra or trigonometry.

Image showing the Challenge on a computer monitor