In this guide we are going to talk about what exactly is a money makeover and why doing one could be the smartest financial move you make this year. It’s time to make your finances work for you now…and your future.
A money makeover is a systematic review of your finances, removing unnecessary spending and optimizing saving potential. This allows you to save more each month and work towards a financial goal. It is advisable to complete a money makeover at least once a year.
Luckily we’re here to show you exactly how to do a money makeover. Let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
What is a Money Makeover
Do you know exactly how much you earn and spend each month?
More than likely, you are spending more than you need to be. This could be on household bills, fuel, mobiles, food or debts. You might not even know about or notice this extra spend.
Taking time to sit down with your finances, understand your outgoings and incomings, and evaluate where you can cut costs – however small, is a money makeover.
A money makeover isn’t a 10-minute job. But, investing time in it can save you hundreds, if not thousands, every year.
In this guide, we are going to take you through exactly how to do a money makeover, the best apps to help you, where savings can be made and more.
When you have completed this, you may want to see what tips we have for where to park your savings. Try our guide linked here:
Does a Money Makeover Help?
Your income might not change from a money makeover, but your outgoings certainly can! Assessing exactly where your money goes every month can be a great help when it comes to budgeting, saving money and leaving you with a little extra cash at the end of the month.
This is money that could be saved, spent on paying off debts or used in emergencies.
Here are a few benefits of doing a money makeover:
- Clearly see where you are spending
- Understand which bills you are overpaying for
- Save money to use for emergencies, a house deposit, education or anything else
- Budget better
How long does it take to do a money makeover?
A money makeover isn’t a quick fix. It is something that is going to take time, maybe as long as a day. There may be research to do, calls to make, comparison sites to look at, items to sell, food shops to be done.
However, there are ways to speed up the process if you are time-poor. You can use certain apps which show you exactly where your money is going. You can even find premade budget spreadsheets to get you started.
Can you do a money makeover quickly?
Naturally, a full money makeover will take time. After all, there will be calls to make for cancelling subscriptions and online searches to find better deals. You will also need to do a full analysis of your ingoings and outgoings.
That being said, the time it takes can be broken down to help you do a money makeover quickly.
If you don’t have a full day to dedicate to your money makeover then take it one task at a time. Spend 5 minutes every day looking at one aspect of your money makeover plan. Maybe you use the time to fill in a request a call back form from a provider, download a budget app or write out a meal plan.
If you have 15 minutes you could take the time to look at your outgoings and highlight where you could have saved money in the past so you know for the future. Did you really need that daily latte when you had coffee at home? Doing a quick calculation of things like all the takeaway coffee you drank in a week can give you a snapshot of how much you could spend if you cut it out.
30 minutes could buy you some time on comparison websites. Maybe you could even get through a few if you have autofill turned on! Compare prices for all the insurances you might have, including car, gas and electric, life, home, pet, electrical and health insurance.
Over a few months, you could have completed your money makeover. However, don’t get roped into new spending during that time!
Best Money Makeover Apps
Some of the best money makeover apps can help you speed things up by clearly showing you your spending.
Here are a few we like:
Emma is a free app that analyses your savings, credit cards and accounts. The app lists your subscriptions and puts your money into categories so you can clearly see where you are spending.
Price: Free. Pro Emma is $59.99 a year with a 7-day free trial.
- Snoop Finance
Snoop lets you see all your money across multiple bank accounts in one place. Using the app you can track balances and transitions, categorise your spending and receive alerts when you could be saving on bills. The app even gives you discounts at your favourite shops.
Plum is a great app if saving is your goal. It uses AI to calculate an affordable amount to save based on how you spend. It gives you alerts if you are overspending on your bills and gives you ways to save some cash. The paid-for, premium offering of Plum, gives you options to invest your money and ways to earn cashback.
Price: Basic – Free, Plum Plus – $1.50 per month, Plum Pro – $4.99 a month (£1 to £3.50 per month)
How to do a Money Makeover
A money makeover doesn’t have to be daunting. You can take it step by step. Break down your money to see where you can save and what you can cut out altogether.
In this section, we will show you how to do your money makeover without too much stress or hassle. We will share how you can find ways to save on household bills, insurance, utilities, phone bills and how to manage loan and credit card payments.
Money Makeover vs Budget
A money makeover is a little more than just a budget. Though, a budget is important when it comes to managing your money.
A budget helps you to keep track of what you are spending and makes sure you don’t exceed your incomings.
A money makeover helps you not only keep track of your spending and income but also shows you where you are overspending and where you could save.
A budget will likely be part of your money makeover. You could use a spreadsheet to jot down all your outgoings and track them against your income. Add another column for the budget. In this column, you can put down how much you can afford to set aside for this.
For example, nights out, hair cuts, food shopping, holidays – these are all costs that can vary. Set yourself a budget for the month or week to spend on these things.
How Much Do I Spend?
When you first write down your outgoings and how much you think you spend you might be surprised when you compare it to how much you actually spend. Takeaway latte, a quick trip to the supermarket, an Uber because it’s raining, online shopping – it is easy to see how these little costs can quickly add up.
Be honest with yourself when you are writing down how much you spend. Go through your bank statements and add up how much you are spending on these little bits as well as your bills and subscriptions. Budgeting and banking apps can really help you see where your money is going – you might be surprised!
How Much Do I Earn?
This could be an easy question to answer if you are on a monthly salary that stays the same. However, if you are a freelancer, self-employed or business owner then this might fluctuate.
If you have regular clients or income then use this as your base earnings. Or you could take last year’s annual figure and divide it by 12 to have a rough estimate for how much you may earn each month on average.
Remember to include any side hustles in your monthly income. All this money can add up over time helping you to boost your earnings.
How Much Do I Save?
Make sure you note down any money that you save each month. You might even be able to increase it with a few hacks.
If money is seemingly tight then saving might not feel easy. However, there are still a few ways you can build a little savings pot.
Here are some ideas:
- Tempted to buy a coffee? Pop the money you would have spent on it in a savings account
- Use an app that rounds up your spending to the nearest pound and saves those pennies for you
- Put a spending limit on your card
- Have a month off online shopping and put that part of the budget in your savings
How Can I Save More?
There are also ways to save on what you are already spending. Are you getting the best deals? You will find plenty of savings to be had across all of your bills. It just might cost you a little time.
Here are some bills you could easily reduce with a little research.
Household bills such as insurance and broadband are somewhere you might be able to save some money. Lots of insurance and broadband providers have new customer offers too so you could really bag yourself a deal.
Life insurance, home insurance, car insurance, gadget insurance – these costs can all add up. Make sure you have all the details on your policy up to date. Sometimes this can help to reduce your payments.
When your insurance is up for renewal, take the time to shop around and uncheck any boxes for auto-renew.
When you have a mortgage there are ways to reduce your payments each month. You could increase the years on your loan to spread the cost, change lenders for a better rate, look at interest only or rent a room out in the house. You may also be eligible for Support Mortgage Interest.
Renting costs are a little more fixed. However, if you are struggling to pay the rent then you could speak with your landlord about reductions. You might also be eligible for housing benefits or TANF assistance for them in the US. The other option is to move to an area or home that is a little more affordable for you.
The chances are when you moved into your house, the gas and electricity were all set up with a particular company. You don’t actually have to stick with that company, you can easily change it. Go on comparison websites and see if you could get a better deal. You can change these whether you rent or own your home.
Water is something else you can look at saving money on too. You can save money on water by taking short showers, only using the washing machine for a full load and fixing leaky taps. You can also consider switching to a water meter which could save you money.
Use the CCW calculator to see if having one installed is going to be an option to save you some money. You can also insert a flushing pillow in the back of a cistern to reduce needed to refill the toilet and go for shorter flushes with the a dual action flushing mechanism.
Contract phone bills are a great place to save some money. When your contract runs out, and if you are happy with your phone, you can go to a sim only plan. Sim only is often much cheaper and still offers you data and minutes.
If you want a new phone and have been with your service provider a while, let them know you are looking to save money and want the best deal. You might have to forgo some data or minutes, but how often are you not connected to wifi?
You might even want to shop around for a new service provider if the one you are with can’t offer you a good enough deal.
Spreading your contract out over three years will make your monthly payments smaller, however, over the three years you may end up paying more. This is something to weigh up.
Loan/Credit Card Payments
The simplest way to reduce your credit card payments is to transfer your balance to a credit card with a 0% balance transfer offer, or one that has a lower interest rate. With the average interest on a credit card being 22% there is certainly some money to be saved here when doing your money makeover.
When it comes to loans there is money to be saved too. One easy way is to pay off any loans with savings, and focus on the big loans first. Of course, always check that the early repayment charges aren’t too high.
You might also be able to pay off your loan with another loan that has a lower interest rate. It is certainly an option to consider.
Consolidating your debts isn’t always the best choice. While they do allow you to merge your credit commitments, they can often cost you more than if you are stuck with your current situation. Often the interest may be lower but the repayment term is much longer. If this is something you are considering, always explore all your options first.
Tips to cut bills down
Bills probably take a large portion of your income each month. Thankfully, there are ways to save on your bills – all of your bills. Sometimes you have to be ruthless, other times a little savvy.
Here are some tips to cut down your bills:
- Shop around on comparison sites for new deals
- Check you are in the right council tax band – this can be backdated if you have been over paying. You can check this using the GOV council tax checker
- Save on utilities by turning off lights and TV when you aren’t home, take shorter showers, only heat your home when you need it warm. There are some more tips on saving energy on the Citizens Advice website.
- Consider a sim only, pay as you go mobile plan
- Ditch the landline if you have a mobile
- Check you are making use of all the subscriptions you have, TV, magazine, flowers, online newspapers and anything else you are paying out monthly for
- Contact your supplier and ask if they can offer you a better deal, if not, shop around
- Get a mortgage lender to help you find the best deals and rates when it comes to remortgaging.
- Try shopping at a different supermarket with the best offers or prices
- Create a meal plan and a shopping list based on your meals. Only buy from that list!
- If you have a gym membership, make sure you are using it. If not, embrace the home workouts and ditch the gym
What can I do if my outgoings are higher?
If your outgoings are higher than your earnings then you will end up in debt. To manage this you need to do your money makeover to find ways to cut costs.
You might need to be brutal and give up things you don’t necessarily want to, like smoking, a takeaway coffee or nights out. However, giving up unnecessary items really can help you get money in your bank.
If you have cut right back, got the best deals and still can’t see anywhere to save, you might want to look for government support. In the UK this is managed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the US it’s known as Welfare and is handled at a Federal level via TANF (Temporary Assistance For Needy Families) You may be eligible to claim benefits. If you’re British you may want to use this benefits calculator to see what you could be entitled to, or American citizens can head to this welfare calculator.
Another option, of course, is to find a higher-paid job or start something on the side to earn some extra money.
Where Can I Get Advice
You can get advice on debt from Citizens Advice in the UK or in the US with the National Debt Line. This is a free service available to everyone who is feeling overwhelmed by debt or who needs help out with it. They will help you to find ways to manage your debt, pay it off and deal with it. You will also be able to get any advice on whether you may be eligible for government help and benefits.
Will a Money Makeover help my Credit Score?
A money makeover will likely help your credit score. Finding ways to save, paying off credit cards and loans on time and keeping up with bill payments all positively impact your credit score.
Having a good credit score will help you to get the best deals from mortgage lenders, credit cards and more. However, remember that the more your credit score is checked can actually hurt your score. Make sure you are aware of what credit checks are going ahead in your name and how many of them are necessary.
How Long Does It Take To Save?
How long is a piece of string?
It really depends on how much you can afford to save each month. It helps to have a saving goal in mind, and something to save for. When you start seeing the pounds build up, you will be more committed to finding more ways to save.
Most banking apps let you set up a saving goal. This can help keep you motivated to keep topping up the funds.
Use our early retirement calculator to work out how long it will take you to save for something and to see how much you need to save regularly to reach your goal.
Can a Money Makeover help me retire early?
Understanding your finances and taking steps to get the best deals, rates and where to put your investments might help you retire early. As part of your money makeover, you should have a look at your pension and check that you are investing your money the best way you can.
To retire and be comfortable, you must have a good pension and possibly some savings. A money makeover can help you save some money which you can put into a savings pot ready for retirement.
Try our early retirement calculator to see how little extra monthly savings can wipe years off your retirement age.
How can I make more money?
Who wouldn’t say no to a little extra income? If you are struggling to save or make ends meet each month then you might need to find a way to make more money.
Here are some ideas:
- Start a side hustle
If you are after a regular income then you might want to look at starting something of your own on the side of your day to day job.
- Sell a service
Are you great at design, writing, photography? Maybe you could sell your services on sites such as Fiverr, Upwork and other freelancing sites.
- Sell your stuff (garage flipping)
Selling your things can only go so far. However, it is a great way to make some money quickly. You can sell on eBay, boot sale apps, Facebook marketplace or a traditional tabletop boot sale. If you have an eye for what will sell online then you might start shopping in Charity shops for bargains that you know will make a profit if sold online.
You can get yourself registered as a babysitter and earn around $20+ USD (Or UK £10-£15) per hour depending on your location.
- Dog walking/pet sitting
You will need to be insured for this, but you can start a little business walking neighbours dogs and looking after pets when they go on holiday. Dog walking and pet sitting could easily be done around a 9-5 job and give you a chance to get some exercise and fresh air too!
Summary – Where to start first
Hopefully, you are feeling inspired and raring to go. But, where do you start?
The best place to start is with your bank statements. Spend time looking at how much money goes out vs how much money comes in. From here, create a spreadsheet with all your regular earnings and outgoings. Make sure you include things like haircuts and holidays. Even if you don’t go on holiday every month the average cost of a holiday should be included in your monthly budget.
This will give you a list of all the providers and bills you pay out each month. You can then start working your way through to find out if you are getting the best deal. If not, make a switch.
A money makeover can be something you do in a day, or over time. You might focus on trying to reduce one bill per week or cutting down on expensive habits slowly.
Now that you’ve saved some money, it may be time to invest!