eeping your personal finances healthy until the end of the year can be a real challenge, especially if your bank account took a hit during the summer holidays. You may have taken out a loan or used up all your holiday allowance and your tax refund. And if you have children, getting your accounts back in balance can be even more complicated, with school starting back in September.
But don't panic. There are strategies you can implement over the next few months to get your finances back on track before the end of 2023. Here are some of them.
Revise your family budget
Considering that in 2023 many products and services increased in value due to rising inflation, most people saw their disposable income fall this year.
If you're having trouble managing your money because you don't have any financial slack, the ideal thing to do is to make a family budget or redo the budget you had before.
But this step is even more important if you've taken out a new loan or if your income has decreased and your expenses have increased.
That said, look again at all your income expenditure and create an updated family budget.
By having this information in your possession, you'll be better able to manage your money until the end of the year. This is because it's easier to identify how much money you have left over at the end of each month, which will allow you to make more informed decisions.
Cut non-essential expenses
If you want your finances to regain some stability, you need to make some room in your budget. And since money doesn't stretch, it's only natural that you'll have to cut back on non-essential spending.
By looking at your updated family budget, it will be easier to realise which expenses are superfluous. But this doesn't mean you have to drastically cut back on all your non-essential spending. For example, if you spend 150 euros a month on eating out, you can either reduce this expense entirely - by preparing all your food at home - or reduce it by half.
This rule applies to all your non-essential charges, whether they are services, subscriptions, leisure expenses, etc..
Review your mortgage
In Portugal, most home loan contracts are linked to a variable rate. Therefore, with the rise in interest rates, holders of loans indexed to Euribor have seen their instalment increase by up to 60%.
However, you don't have to sit back and watch your budget strangled by this increase. You can try to renegotiate the terms of your mortgage with your bank. For example, look into the possibility of the financial institution lowering your spread, since there are already banks applying minimum spreads of 0%.
If your effort rate has risen to more than 35%, you could consider using the support created by the government for home loans. Although there is no miracle solution, if you fulfil the necessary criteria, the credit institution has the duty to offer solutions to combat the risk of breach. These could include temporarily lowering your interest rate, extending the term of your contract, among other options.
If you can't reach an agreement with your bank, find out about the possibility of transferring your mortgage to another entity. By transferring your loan, you may be able to reduce your interest rate, change it (to a mixed rate or fixed rate), lower the amount of your home loan insurance (home loan life insurance and multi-risk insurance) by changing policies to another insurer, and even remove products that you had subscribed to in your contract.
Do you have more than one loan? Find out about consolidation or a multipurpose credit
If you have more than two consumer loans, it can pay off to use a consolidated loan, leaving you with just one instalment. By combining all your loans into one, you usually benefit from a lower interest rate. And this change allows many people to save up to 60 per cent on their total instalments.
However, be sure to check the conditions of your consolidated loan, as you may end up with a longer contract term, which may not be worth it if you're close to paying off your debts.
Another solution that allows you to pay off other loans, if you have a mortgage or a mortgage without encumbrances, is to take out a multi-option loan. This option allows you to obtain extra financing at reduced interest rates by taking out a second mortgage or mortgage (if your house is paid off). You can then use this amount to pay off one or more loans, reducing your monthly costs as the instalment for the multi-option loan will be lower.
But to be approved for this type of loan, your effort rate must not exceed 50 per cent and your LTV (loan-to-value) must not exceed 80 per cent. Although this type of financing offers more guarantees to the credit institution, many organisations only grant this credit with an LTV of between 60% and 70%. In addition, your effort rate includes all your credit instalments, including the new instalment of your multi-option credit.
Analyse your insurance portfolio
As the years go by, it's normal for insurance portfolios to have more and more policies. This can include car insurance, health insurance, life insurance, credit-related insurance, multi-risk insurance, among others.
But it's important that you review the usefulness of each policy over time. After all, there may be duplicate coverage or even coverage that you no longer need. If this is the case, you should get in touch with the insurer and see if removing certain coverage will reduce the amount you pay for your policy.
It's also advisable at this point to ask for simulations from other insurance companies, as you may be paying too much for the prices currently in force. You could save tens or hundreds of euros by reviewing your insurance portfolio.
Don't be afraid to negotiate your contracts
Sometimes we spend more money than we should because we stay with contracts that are already out of date compared to the prices charged by the competition. Given that the markets are becoming increasingly competitive, it's advisable to always keep an eye on the conditions that other operators, suppliers and companies apply.
After all, as a customer you always have the chance to renegotiate your contractual conditions. Although you have to reach an agreement with your current provider, if you don't want to switch to another e, you can submit competing offers that you have received and thus gain some negotiating leeway to try to lower the amount you pay for your services. If the company in question is not willing to renegotiate the conditions, then as soon as possible you should switch to another entity with a more advantageous offer for you.
For example, in the case of electricity and natural gas contracts, you can switch supplier at any time or do the maths to see if it pays to be in the liberalised or regulated market.
In the case of telecommunications contracts, before the loyalty period ends, start analysing the prices charged by competing operators. That way, when you renegotiate your contract, you may be able to lower your monthly fee and even benefit from a range of services that are more attractive to you.
Top up your emergency fund with the savings you've made
With the savings you've achieved with one or more of these solutions, you can leave yourself with a good financial buffer and significantly increase your stability. In order to keep your accounts balanced and healthy until the end of the year, it's advisable to channel some of these savings into creating an emergency fund.
The emergency fund is a savings account that aims to cover your essential expenses for a period of 3 to 12 months, thus taking care of unforeseen situations or income shortfalls. The higher the value of your fund, the more stable your finances will be and the less you'll need to apply for a new mortgage or risk breach.