Don't Do This With Your FinancesOct 26, 2022
Sometimes it's hard to know where to start with your finances. It can feel overwhelming. Many of us will decide to sort out our finances and then try and do everything at once. However, when we do this, we burn out and it doesn't stick. It's like when you decide to go on a strict diet and are really good for the first week or so and then go back to how you were before. It's hard work to keep it up and you're depriving yourself.
It's the same with your finances. So where should you start? Start with the more simple solutions first, like getting a plan in place to pay off your debts, tracking and cutting back on expenses and slowly building up your savings. This will make a big difference to your finances.
Know what debts you have and the interest rates on each one. Looking at your credit report can help you find out what debts you owe. Write down the total of your debts, the minimum monthly payment for each account and have a strategy in place to pay these off. Calculate how much money you can afford to put towards paying off your debts and consider which debt clearing strategy works best for you.
There are 3 common methods for paying off debt: debt consolidation, the snowball strategy and the avalanche strategy. In brief, debt consolidation is where you combine several small debts into one larger debt and therefore only make one payment a month towards your debts (ideally with a lower interest rate). The debt snowball strategy is where you put any extra money towards paying off the smallest of your debts first (once the minimum amounts are paid on all your debts) and once this is paid off, then you put the extra money towards paying off the next-smallest debt. You continue until all accounts are paid off, ending with the largest debt. The avalanche strategy is where you pay off the debt with the highest interest rate first and the lowest interest rate last. The method you choose will be the one that's right for you and your circumstances.
Create a budget to monitor your income and expenses. Look at where you're spending your money and if it's in line with your values. Make a list of your subscriptions and direct debits. Write down your essential expenditure (such as your mortgage, rent and bills) and see what this adds up to each month. Look at what expenses you can cut out or cut down on, without depriving yourself. For ways to reduce your expenditure, listen to our podcast episode on Spotify here. You can also listen on all other major platforms, such as Stitcher, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Castbox. Click here for these links.
Start small, start now, be consistent and be patient as when you look back next year or the year after, you will see just what a big difference it has made.
Once you have this in place, you can then look at the more complex areas such as where you invest and tax strategies. Investing doesn't need to be complicated, and I will go through this in a future post, but start with clearing your debts, cutting back on expenses and building up your cash savings. This will lead to healthy habits and will make a big difference to your finances. It's about taking small actions every day and not trying to do everything at once. That's how you'll achieve your goals. Don't deprive yourself of a happy life just to try and save money fast as it won't stick.