If you find yourself promising to sort out your finances every year but never quite manage it, make 2021 the year when it finally happens. With a little bit of forward-planning it’s possible to get your finances looking healthy without making hefty sacrifices in the process.
To get you started, here are seven top tips to help get your finances on the right track for the year ahead.
Tip #1: Set yourself financial goals
Knowing what your financial goals are is the first step. It may sound obvious but all too often, people just have a vague idea about having “better” finances. If you’re clear about exactly what you want to achieve, you’ll stand a much better chance of success as you’ll be focused on a specific outcome.
Tip #2: Have realistic milestones
If your goal is too large, there’s the risk you’ll be overwhelmed and end up not making any progress. If you can see yourself achieving small successes along the way you’ll feel motivated to continue. For this reason, it’s a good idea to break your goal down into bite-size chunks. Having smaller milestones will give you a boost every time you hit one, and help you to see how far you’ve come already.
Tip #3: Write down a budget
One of the mistakes people make is not writing their budget down. If you know exactly what your goals are, and how you’re going to achieve them, it’s tempting just to keep everything in your head. However, using something like this excel budget template to map out your finance goals will not only eliminate the chances of an error, but also make your goals seem more real. Seeing the figures written down – including any progress – can help you stick to your budget far more effectively.
Tip #4: Cut out the clutter
Use the new year as a chance to review your life, and get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Whether it’s a job, a relationship or just having too much junk around your home, cutting out the clutter can be very therapeutic. As well as feeling good, having a clear-out can help inspire you to get your finances back on track too. You might even be surprised at how closely connected your money situation is to what you’ve just binned.
Tip #5: Maximise your earning potential
Are you stagnating in your current job? Do you wish you had pursued a different career path? Too nervous to go for that promotion? Everyone has lots of skills and the chances are you’re not utilising yours to their maximum potential. Whether it’s time to move on and find a new job, switch career, aim higher or even start a side hustle, 2021 is the year you owe it to yourself to make it happen.
Tip #6: Automate your payments
Automating your regular payments is an easy win that won’t just help you stay organised, but could save you money too. Paying on time every month and by direct debit or standing order may mean you qualify for a cheaper tariff, or a discount. Even if you don’t, automated payments mean you’ll never incur late payment fees. In addition, with the prompt payments your credit score will improve so you could qualify for cheaper borrowing.
Tip #7: Audit your bank account
Before you set off on your journey of fresh new finances, don’t forget to audit your bank account and any payment accounts you use, such as Paypal. Check whether there are any recurring payments coming out that you don’t recognise, or whether you’re paying for subscriptions that you no longer use. Lots of people forget to cancel recurring payments and end up paying far more than they should. Clean up your bank account and not only will you be confident that there’s no fraudulent activity, you could save yourself some money too.