Fiscal Cliff. Triple Dip Recession. Aaargh. These are all things we have read or heard about almost constantly over the festive season. If you weren’t feeling worried or depressed about money in November, you probably were by the time the last day of work rolled around. So what can we do to batten down the hatches and prepare for the New Year?
Well, one really great thing about the bank holidays and Christmas break is that it gives us a chance to stop, breathe and regroup. We can assess the year gone by and look towards the year coming up, and ask ourselves what we want to achieve and what mistakes we want to avoid making again. Here are ten things to consider as you step into the New Year.
If you haven’t started a pension yet, do it today. If you are in your late 30s and still have no pension, then you are not in a great position at all. That said, it is better to have some pension rather than none at all. See a financial advisor, get the information you need and start saving your money for your future and retirement.
2. Your savings
Do you have a rainy day fund? No? Get started on one today. You don’t need to set aside a fortune every month and every little bit will help. This is not here to buy you a mansion or a jet, this is a fund for those little and large life emergencies that always happen when you need them the most. Even if your savings only cover one third of the cost of your life disaster, that is still a substantially lower amount that you have to find in a pinch.
3. Your child’s future
We set aside a very small amount into our daughter’s savings account every month. It isn’t going to deliver a huge stipend when she turns 18, but it will be far more than she would have had if we’d saved nothing at all. If you quit smoking or drinking as a New Year resolution, why not put the money you would have spent into your child’s future instead?
4. Get rid of debt
There are so many help articles and experts available to assist you with this issue that I am not even going to bother telling you how to get rid of your debt. All I can tell you is that debt is a sure fire way of racking up your heart rate and stress levels as well as having the potential to cause a ton of problems. Make paying off your debt a plan for 2013 and image how awesome and smug you are going to feel in 2014.
5. Ditch the credit card
Honestly, I only have a credit card for emergencies and because it helps with my credit rating. I buy something, I pay it off immediately. Use your credit card as a way of keeping your credit record shiny and cool, but not as something you use to buy stuff on a daily basis.
6. Compare everything
This is very tedious and sometimes I can’t be bothered, but comparing prices will save you money. Guaranteed. Whether you happen to be bidding on something cheap and cheerful off eBay or nabbing something in a sale, or purchasing big family essentials, comparing prices is the way to go. You will be amazed at how many places sell things for less than you just paid. And there are few things as irritating as seeing the very thing you bought for £100 on sale for £50 the next day somewhere else.
7. Get an actual budget
When was the last time you drew up a budget for your food shopping, household expenses and entertainment? I know I keep promising myself that I will stick to X amount, but I almost always fail. Create a budget that you know is realistic and stay on target. You can reward yourself with the smug glow of a job well done and lots of money sitting in your savings account.
8. Cash it
Draw your budget allowance for each week in cash and don’t go over it. Not only will you suddenly realise how much you are spending on things like coffees and snacks as you go, but you will find it easier to not make impulse purchases too.
9. Stay on top of things
Keep all your receipts and each month go through them. This will help you see exactly where your money is going and hopefully help you to keep the costs down next month.
Impulse buying and silly purchases are linked to stress and lack of fun. Don’t spend every second worrying about finances and let yourself relax. If you want to stay in budget, we have plenty of articles that show you how to have fun for free.