I wrote about finances a few months back but I think it’s important to have a reminder now – if you haven’t already looked into this or didn’t see the other post, then it’s time to take care of your own finances.
You might find that tedious, boring and mundane (I know, I’m really selling it) but face your finances now before the recession fully hits and it can make a world of difference to your mindset.
The first half of 2020 felt like being pushed down a waterslide backwards – and that’s had a huge influence on our finances.
Many of us are feeling the strain, and with this last quarter of the year, we also need to start thinking about Christmas and the extra expenditure that usually entails. Those of us who are self-employed may need to consider our January tax returns too.
Now I don’t want to scare you off by talking about the end of the year – but I do want to prepare you for it so you can glide through Autumn and into Winter, rather than continue with that ‘backwards down a waterslide’ feeling.
So would you like to take back some control? Here are a few smart, strategic things you can put in place now to make what’s left of 2020 smoother.
Actually look at your finances and do a review
Do you ever list all your income and expenditure in one place and look at the big picture? This can be a great way to project ahead where you might need to earn or save a bit more, and catch any small problems before they get bigger.
It’s also a great way to spot outgoings you’d forgotten about – especially direct debits that you no longer need and could cancel to save yourself money.
List out everything you spend on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis so you can see exactly where your money goes and I mean list everything (I can tell you from experience that’s going to be an eye-opener). Then look at where you can make savings.
Prioritise your spending and really think about your big non-essential purchases – it’s not about depriving yourself, it’s about reducing your outgoings but without major lifestyle changes.
Stash a little for the next few months until Christmas
To some people, I know it might feel a bit late in the year – but honestly it’s not too late to make a difference to your holiday savings so if you haven’t thought about it yet, take some time to work out what you are going to need.
If you take whatever you have each month, and just take a tiny bit from that and put it aside for your Christmas budget, it will take some real pressure off you later. If you have saved any money from working at home during lockdown perhaps that could help as a seasonal buffer.
I don’t want to encourage you to live beyond your means but I get that the season of giving is also typically the season of putting things on credit – so you can take some of the strain off and have some time to pay. And this leads on nicely to my last point…
Shop around now for the best deals
For credit cards, there are some great 0% balance transfers and other offers out there right now, that you likely won’t see closer to December.
The whole financial industry can smell our desperation at that time of year. So if you know you need a credit card to get you through, then start shopping around for the best deal you can find as soon as possible.
Also look at your utility bills, your mobile and TV packages – if you’ve had those for a while then chances are you can find better deals elsewhere.
As we are spending more time at home our food and utility bills are costing more and as we head towards cooler weather, try and lock in a good deal for your heating bills now as those deals will disappear when the sun goes in.
Above all, this is about being strategic. I am not a Financial expert and you will need to contact a Financial Advisor for expert financial information, what I am offering is a few tried and tested techniques that work.
Looking at your finances isn’t fun, I know, I don’t enjoy book keeping or filing my tax returns. But a little discomfort now can prevent a lot of discomfort further down the track.
If you ready yourself now, then you won’t have to lose sleep when the end of the year comes. When you know you have done as much as you can, you have less to fear and less to get overwhelmed and in a panic about.
You can’t control the world but if you take the time now to look at what is going on in your own life, you can ensure that your bit of the world is ready for whatever comes your way.