January's over, but if you resolved to turn over a new financial leaf this year, here are some tips to keep you on track.
Did you make any New Year’s resolutions this year? Maybe you resolved to give up smoking? Or eat more healthily? Or perhaps you vowed to spend less and lead a better financial life?
As we welcome February, are you keeping to your resolution? Have you caved in already, or are you still going strong?
If you resolved to get to grips with your money, it can be tough to keep going once the initial momentum that comes with the turn of the year fades away.
So here are some tips to keep you going firmly on the right track:
If you resolved to stop living beyond your means
It’s arguably easier to spend less money in January than any other month of the year. The days are short, the nights are cold and long, the Christmas bills are piling up. However, as the weeks roll past, it can be easy to slip into old habits – treating yourself to a meal out, some new clothes, a holiday even. But if you are putting it all on plastic, you need to ask yourself how you’re going to pay it off.
Make a budget and stick to it. Allow yourself some small treats a month but set limits to keep your spending in check. Otherwise you’re going to be going down the same old road again.
If you resolved to save more
The tough times we’re living in means it’s a good idea to have some money set aside in case something unexpected happens. Three months’ salary is the generally accepted minimum ‘cushion’ you should have. But getting that together is often a tougher ask.
Look at what you spend your money on and see what you can cut back – coffees, meals out, TV subscriptions. And take some time to review what you’re spending on things such as your mortgage, insurances, credit cards and utilities. Are there any savings you could make by switching?
Keep putting that little bit aside – as the months roll on, you’ll be amazed at how it grows and that should keep motivating you to continue. And when you've done the hard work of actually saving the money, make sure you put it into a good home where it works hard for you. If it isn't, then move it. Compare the top-paying savings accounts or ISAs or consider starting a pension.
If you resolved to pay off your debts
Maybe you resolved to become debt free this year? Or at least make a significant dent in your debt pile? If you haven’t explored options such as switching credit card debts to a 0% balance transfer credit card or moving to a credit card with a low APR, then you probably should.
If you have started to chip away, then keep going. Make sure you have the money to keep paying some of your debt off each month. If you can, make some cutbacks and you’ll soon see your balance(s) start to fall. If you’re still absolutely drowning in debt, then you need to think about seeking some free, confidential help from the likes of Citizens Advice or the Consumer Credit Counselling Service. Don't pay for expensive debt management solutions you don't need, as they will just leave you further out of pocket.
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