To many people banks are a stressful, even scary place. Whether it’s a mortgage, personal loan or credit card, if you find money difficult to understand or manage it can feel like you have no control over it – as if it’s something that’s working against you, not for you. It doesn’t have to be this way, however. If you can turn this attitude around, you can quickly become confident and proficient with money handling, and turn banking into an exciting challenge.

To start with, building up good banking habits is the way to go. By slowly changing the way you see and interact with money, you will find yourself in a happier, healthier position. Here are some solid tips to get you started.

  1. Pay attention to money. Many people’s fear of money stems from the unwillingness to confront them head-on. However “out of sight, out of mind” is a philosophy that not only fails to solve money issues, but it can also actually make them far worse. It’s time to start scrutinising how much money comes into your pocket each week, and where it’s heading. Look carefully at your debts and savings, track their progress and see if there is room for improvement. Most importantly, keep an eye on your bank statement for any surprising deductions or additions to your account.
  2. Question your spending habits. Many of us become quite comfortable and set in our ways when it comes to household expenses – if we can get by, that’s enough isn’t it? Not necessarily. It’s always worth raking over your bills and expenditure to see if there isn’t anywhere that money is going to waste. Perhaps dining out is costing more than you realised, or a cheaper phone and internet plan would suit your needs just fine. There can be many different ways to cut back.
  3. Streamline debt and payment. Consolidating your debts means bringing together a number of different payments to lower the overall interest paid. Some banks also have schemes that allow you to balance your savings against your debts in order to minimise the amount paid. The best way to sort out something like this is to speak with your ban directly and see what options they have for you.
  4. Don’t default to credit. It can be so very tempting to simply load up your credit cards, but this is the debt that can be most costly. With high-interest rates and very little resistance towards spending more and more, credit cards are an easy way to rack up serious debt without even realising. Instead of reaching for the card, get into the habit of saving for big purchases or taking advantage of in-store deals that allow you to reduce interest. Credit cards can still be useful of course, but it’s best to wait until you know you can pay them back quickly.
  5. Prioritise and make concrete plans. If you don’t plan it out, nothing will ever get done. Once you have become aware of your financial situation, you can start setting plans and strategies into motion. Many banks will have resources and information to help you do this, and you can arrange your accounts to have automatic payments that help you stay on track.

By forming good banking habits, you can make money into your friend rather than an enemy. The best place to start is by talking to your bank and seeing what services they offer to help you get sorted. The most important part, of course, is ensuring that you are alert, aware and in control.