January’s long dark nights make this month the perfect time to sort out your finances, and there’s never been a better time to make some changes. Start the New Year as you mean to go on!
1. Take an interest
Budgets and spreadsheets – they’re not the most exciting things, but it’s important to set time aside for them so you know the exact state of your finances. By taking an interest, you’ll be more aware of just how you can make your money work for you.
2. Update the files
Set aside a day in January where you go through all of your finances. Review bank accounts, update your filing system and throw out anything that is no longer relevant. This will clear out space for the year ahead.
3. Plan for payday
Each payday, sit down for half an hour and prepare your budget for the coming month. While some payments such as direct debits will already be accounted for, other items such as birthday parties or school trips may require some extra funds.
4. A pound a day
There’s nothing like the thrill of emptying out a piggy bank. Each day, put a coin into a piggy bank – 50p, £1, or simply any lose change you have in your wallet. Don’t raid the piggy bank until the end of the year. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ve saved.
5. Forget the takeaways
If there’s a night each week that you traditionally get takeaways, save that money and instead make Friday or Saturday night leftover night. Have a smorgasbord of leftovers and see what culinary delights you can come up with.
6. Make money
When we’re on a budget our focus is all about how to save money – but this year, why not think about how you can make money as well. Are there things around the house you could sell on eBay, or perhaps you or your partner has a skill that can be put to good financial use?
7. Leave your wallet at home
Is there a day a week that you don’t need to take your purse out of your handbag? By making your own lunch, planning ahead and asking yourself what you really need, you may find that some days you don’t need to spend a penny!
8. Don’t throw out the junk mail
We all like to bag a bargain and often the best deals to be had are in the junk mail delivered direct to your door. Each day, sift through any junk mail that’s been delivered and see if there are some items on sale you could make the most of.
9. Deal with the debt
Whether it’s the mortgage or the lounge suite on hire purchase, set yourself a goal of reducing your debt. Review your finances from last year to see how much you were able to pay off, then challenge yourself to beat that amount.
10. Make a goal
Write down the amount you want to save in 2012 and put this in a visible place. Alongside this figure, glue a photo of your reward – what are you going to treat yourself to when you’ve reached your savings target? This will be an added incentive throughout the year not to spend frivolously.