Anxiety surrounding finances is nothing new to many of us. One of the most worrying things about living paycheck to paycheck is that we’re only ever a few weeks away from potential financial disaster. If the money stops coming in, then we’re in real trouble and this kind of future uncertainty is something none of us should have to deal with.
However, there is a way to ease the pressure of this kind of situation and it comes down to creating a financial buffer.
What is the difference between an emergency fund and a financial buffer?
A lot of people are talking about having to use their emergency funds to survive financially throughout the coronavirus outbreak. This is good in some ways because that’s exactly what an emergency fund should be used.
However, the problem with an emergency fund is that it’s just a big stash of cash with no specific purpose. This is how a financial buffer differs because its purpose is to help you to budget so you can set aside the correct amount of money to keep up with specific bills for a certain period.
Although a financial buffer provides the same result as an emergency fund in terms of money set aside, it is done so in a controlled manner that keeps your finances in order in normal times as well as emergencies. Ideally, you could have both an emergency fund and a regular financial buffer of 2 to 3 months.
How do you create a financial buffer?
The easiest way to create a financial buffer is to use HyperJar. It’s a payments and planning app that allows you to take control of your finances and set money aside for specific payments.
The first thing you need to do is to sign up for a free HyperJar account. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start thinking about how you use your money on a daily basis. For example, you should make a note of how much you spend on your mortgage or rent, everyday bills, travel, food shopping, hobbies, nights out with friends, takeaway food at the weekend, and any longer-term costs such as holidays or saving up for a new car.
Understanding how much you spend on each of these items will help you to know where you’re overspending. Often, people will be shocked at how much they’re spending per month on things such as coffee or Friday night takeaway food.
At this point, you can evaluate whether you want to maintain your current levels of spending or if you want to cut back on certain things.
How does HyperJar help with a financial buffer?
The great thing about HyperJar is that it makes it easy to get your finances in order. Once you’ve signed up, you can start creating Jars in the app. Jars can reflect any kind of category you like, and you can create as many as you want.
For example, you could create a Jar called Bills, a Jar called Weekday Coffees, a Jar called Weekly Shopping, and a Jar called Holiday Savings. The options are endless.
Once you understand exactly how much you spend on each of these items every month, you can start to create a financial buffer by investing in the future. Adding a set amount of money to each jar every month is one way to do it, but you can also add any excess cash as and when you have it. If your shopping budget is £100 for the week and you only spend £80 you could add the unspent £20 to your weekly shopping Jar to help with next week’s shopping trip.
The idea here is to keep adding to your Jars as and when possible so you have enough in each one to cover you for 2 to 3 months. This financial buffer provides security without you having to rely on an uncategorised emergency fund. If your monthly bills cost £200 then you’d aim to keep topping up your Monthly Bills Jar until it contained £400 – £600.
Other benefits of using HyperJar
HyperJar is a really convenient app. It allows you to spend directly from any of your Jars by linking it to your card. That way, when you’re in the supermarket, you’re able to spend directly from your Weekly Shopping Jar.
You can also create Group Jars that allows shared savings and spending between friends and family to become a reality. If you’re going on a group holiday, you can create a shared Jar for this and all of you can add to it as and when required. Likewise, if you split bills with housemates, you can create a shared Jar for monthly bills.
One of the most interesting bonuses of HyperJar, however, is the Merchant Jar feature. HyperJar have partnered up with shops, brands, and businesses to create specific Jars that give you rewards. For example, you could pay into a Lidl Jar and will receive offers and rewards for doing so. You also have the opportunity to lock in your money to these Jars. By doing this, you’re committing to spending money at that specific shop and will be rewarded for doing so by receiving a 4.8% Annual Growth Rate on the balance you’ve paid in. It makes perfect sense if you’re going to shop there anyway and you’ll be getting a much higher rate than you would in a savings account.
Overall, HyperJar is the perfect solution for anyone looking to take control of their money and create a financial buffer. Knowing exactly what you spend on things helps to provide peace of mind and gives you an opportunity to plan for the future by creating a financial buffer that keeps financial issues away for a set period. Knowing you have 2 to 3 months’ worth of cash for all the things you have to pay for helps to massively reduce anxiety and is a no-brainer.