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Is 2016 the year that you’re going to sort your finances out? Whether you want to make the most of your income, deal with your debts or find new ways to manage your money, there are lots of opportunities for changing your financial landscape this year. To get you off on the right foot we’ve got a list of the best personal finance tips of all time.
We tend to associate our finances with a feeling of tension or stress (most of us at least!). Before you start rearranging your money matters, take a step back and get some perspective – remember that it’s always possible to make a change and the calmer you are when you start making plans, the more effective you will be.
If you’re missing payments, you’re not sure what is due when and you don’t really have any idea of what your outgoings are, create a schedule. Order regular payments such as energy bills and rent or mortgage and create a calendar that you can refer to at any time to see what’s coming out and when.
This is the foundation of good personal finance – once you learn to budget, you’re managing your money and not much will take you by surprise or leave you feeling precariously out of financial control. Budgeting is a simple equation: your income vs. your outgoings. What’s left is the budget you have left to allocate for spending such as clothing, nights out, holidays and savings. The easiest way to budget is on a month-by-month basis.
Life is constantly moving and this affects the ebb and flow of our finances, as well as the demands placed on them. Don’t assume that once you set a budget that’s it for the next 12 months. You will need to regularly review your budget and make sure it’s still working for you in terms of reaching savings targets and meeting your financial needs. Some professionals swear by the ‘daily money minute’ – that is, taking 60 seconds a day for a quick review of your finances to stay on top of them.
Credit cards, loans, payday loans and overdrafts are all there to help you make your life work the way that you want it to. However, if you’re not using them properly then you may find that you are working for your debts, rather than making them work for you. Make sure you have the ‘right’ kind of debt – take into account the need for short or long term debt, what interest rate you want to pay, whether you can move debts around to pay less or have more flexibility, as well as what you can actually afford.
This is the idea that you budget to spend 30% of your income on ‘lifestyle’ expenses – and no more. This obviously depends on how much of your income isn’t eaten up by every day costs but it can be a useful way to make sure that you’re not overspending on items that are not essential but you still feel like you’re getting the benefits of your hard work.
Pretentious as it may sound, a financial vision will focus your mind on where you want to be this time next year. Debt free? On the property ladder? Paying in to a pension? Successfully budgeting? Start with a list of two or three vision essentials for the next 12 months.
Once you have a financial vision for the long term you need to scale back in order to work out how to reach it on a daily basis. It’s important that your goals are realistic, otherwise you’ll experience a sense of frustration and the danger is that you will then give up. Map out the small steps that will take you to your 12 month end goal – make these bite sized and achievable so that each one gives you a sense of satisfaction and the motivation to move on and reach the next target.
If you’re suffering from toxic money thoughts – as many of us do – then banish them from your mind. If you don’t then you risk becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It’s always easier and more motivating to have a buddy when you’re trying to achieve a goal – whether it’s a sibling, housemate or partner, try setting joint goals that you can encourage and congratulate each other on when they are reached.
Oliver Jones has written for Solution Loans since 2015. His passion for personal finance comes through in the 150+ blog posts he's written since that time. His talent for explaining all things money means he's covered topics as diverse as...Read about Oliver Jones
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