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During these uncertain and difficult economic times, most people are looking for a way to save money. The cost of living is rising and with unemployment set to increase significantly over the next 12 months, learning how to make your money go further is a skill that everybody should try to develop. For those who need to use personal to make ends meet or to pay for purchases that their salary can’t cover, money management can be challenging, but there are several ways you can ensure you get the best value from any loans you decide to take out.

1. Price Checks and Comparisons

If you are using your loan for a new car, a new TV or to upgrade your old kitchen, make sure that you spend as much time as possible comparing prices before you decide to make a purchase. When you have money in your account and you need to buy something fairly urgently, it can be tempting to make snap decisions, so you get what you want as soon as possible. Try to resist this urge and compare pricing so that you can get the best value for money. It is a longer process, but you will thank yourself for your patience in the end.

2. Online Money Management

Using loans as a way of supplementing your income is commonplace these days, but in order to do this successfully, you will need to make sure you are managing your money carefully. Take advantage of online money management software that allows you to set up “wallets” and different sub sections of your accounts. This way, you can earmark specific amounts for specific purposes. Though this is not fool proof and you will still need to exercise a degree of self-control, it can help to reduce impulse buying and help you to establish a more structured, considered way of using your money.

3. Putting Your Money to Work

Though investment is risky at the moment, there are still ways you can make your money work for you. If you own a small business or work for yourself, spending some of your personal loan on things like office equipment, website hosting and advertising can help to increase your chances of securing more income. Similarly, investing in personal development such as online training courses may help you to move on in your existing career, or even start a new one. Ultimately, how you use your loan is up to you, but investing even a small amount into something that can potentially make money back for you is always a good idea.

4. Savings Accounts

Those who borrow frequently often see savings as something that is impossible until they have paid off all their existing debts. This could not be further from the truth. Though it’s essential to keep up with any repayments you are expected to make, putting a reasonable sized amount of your loan in to a savings account that you have limited access to means you’re less likely to spend without thinking about it. This may not be practical if you need a personal loan for emergencies, but in many cases, it is a good way of helping you to slow down and reflect before making any large purchases.

5. Avoid Impulse Buys

Though it is almost impossible to go online without seeing a sale or a promotional offer for something, if you want to try and make your loan last a little longer, avoid impulse buys at all costs. If you see something that looks good value, by all means investigate, but always take the time to look around at the competition. If you do not find anything cheaper or better value, you can always go back and make a purchase later. Advertisers rely on pressure tactics and clever manipulation of language to make you feel as if you’re missing out on something buy not parting with your money immediately. This is never the case. Take your time, compare and only buy when you feel ready. This sounds obvious, but in the fast-paced world we live in, it’s something that’s extremely easy to forget.

6. Do not Buy Big Brands

Unless you’re particularly attached to a certain brand because you genuinely love what they do and their product enriches your life, there’s no reason to pay extra for groceries, electronics are anything else. A few exceptions exist, such as safety equipment or things you consider to be absolute essentials, but in many cases, a cheaper alternative is usually more than adequate. Discount supermarkets, clothes outlets and other retailers are becoming more popular than ever due to the worsening economic situation across the globe. Though they used to suffer from a bad reputation, lower cost products are no longer synonymous with poor quality. Think carefully about whether you’re paying for functionality or just forking out more than you need for the sake of a well-known label or logo.

7. Spread Your Loan Around

By this, we mean rather than using it for one large purchase such as a car or a computer, think about how you can get the most bang for your proverbial buck. For example, if you are buying a new car, think about servicing, repairs, replacement parts, insurance, tax and any other hidden costs. Rather than using the full amount on the vehicle itself, spread it around to make sure you’re getting genuine value, rather than just the thrill of buying something brand new. Similarly, if you are buying a computer, account for software packages, virus protection, privacy measures and upgrades.

8. Loans for Couples and Families

If you are using a personal loan as a couple or as part of a family, allowing one person to take control of how the loan is used can be a good decision. Especially if one partner or family member isn’t particularly good with money management. Agreeing on large purchases before they are made and discussing how much of the loan should be used for specific things can be difficult, but it’s generally a far more practical approach than allowing one partner to spend without consulting the other.

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