The new year seems to have rolled around particularly quickly this year, and many of us will be looking to make a fresh start in 2021. Getting on top of your finances is a popular resolution every year, but in order to succeed, it needs to be broken down into manageable chunks.
Here are three smaller steps that you can take this January to get on top of your spending.
Review last year’s spending
If you’re worried about committing to long-term targets then consider taking a one-off action instead. Reviewing your spending from 2020 may take a couple of hours to do it thoroughly, but once you’ve been through all your bank statements and purchases, you don’t need to do it again for another year.
Go through all of your accounts and statements looking at everything you spent last year. It might help to use a spreadsheet and keep track of different categories of spending. When you’re done, you’ll have a much better understanding of how you’ve been using – or wasting – your money. It’s a great way to decide where to make cutbacks in the new year.
Save the change
Savings goals can be really intimidating if you don’t know where to start. Whether you’re building up an emergency fund (remember, we all need to have roughly three months expenditure tucked away for a rainy day) or making a start on a deposit, the truth is that we all need to start small.
Why not begin by taking advantage of one of the many different ‘save the change’ accounts? These round up your spending to the nearest pound and save the difference. Many different banks now offer this as a savings feature – and if yours doesn’t then you could consider opening a Monzo account and using their ‘pots’ feature to pool your change.
Review your pension plans
It doesn’t matter when you’re planning to retire: it’s never too early to get on top of your pension plans. Since auto-enrollment became mandatory for all employers, many of us are guilty of just going along with whatever pension scheme our boss suggests. Worse, some people choose to opt out entirely – choosing to wait until later life to start paying into a pension scheme.
If you don’t know what’s currently in your pension pot, start by tracking down the paperwork for your different schemes. Remember, if you’ve job-hopped over the past few years, you may have money in several different places. Most accounts will let you login online to check the balance of your pension. Once you have this info to hand, you can use the pension calculator to work out how much you’ll have once you retire if you continue contributing at your current rates.
We’ve chosen these three resolutions because they’re simple things that everyone can do regardless of income level or financial know-how. However, if you’ve started the new year worrying about debt, it’s important to address that first. You can contact debt charities such as StepChanges to talk through your financial worries with an expert, and start thinking about how to get back on track.