With the festive season over, it’s easy to feel guilty about how much money you spent but that’s not going to fix it. Just like we need to cut back on the mince pies to stop our waistline expanding further, the sooner we take action on our finances the sooner our bank account will be back in shape.
Here is your twelve-month financial fitness plan:
January – Be honest. Make a point to sit down this month and take a realistic look at your finances. If things don’t look great, don’t panic; you just revealed a problem that was already there. For this month, work on sticking to a budget and commit the rest of this year to getting back on track.
February – Balancing the budget. With your budget at the ready, have a look at what you want to achieve and how you can get there. Perhaps that will involve cutting down on things or even cutting them out? How about savings? Try a free CAP Money Course - go to capmoneycourse.org to find one near you.
March – Take the cash only challenge. It might be counter-cultural but it’s statistically proven that using cash will help you spend less. This month, give it a try and see if you can put the value back into your money.
April – Review. It’s always good to regularly review your financial situation to factor in any changes. Perhaps there are some more areas you can cut back in, or further? Or maybe you’re even in a position to increase your savings?
May – Saving for Summer. If you know you’re likely to want to go on holiday, start putting aside money each month now, rather than putting it on the credit card and getting stung by interest charges later.
June – Pass on the wisdom. Did you know that we form spending habits from as young as seven years old? If you have children, spend some time teaching them the value of money. If you don’t have children, perhaps you have a friend who could benefit from what you’ve learnt?
July – Stick with it! You’re half way through so don’t give up now! Look back and congratulate yourself on how far you have come, and remind yourself again of the end goal.
August - Back to school. Don’t give up to pester power when buying school supplies. Sticking to the plan is key and will help you stay on budget. Write a list together beforehand or try to buying online to avoid temptations in store.
September - 100 days to Christmas. On 16 September, Christmas will be just four pay away! Start saving a little every month instead of hitting the easy credit later in the year.
October - Lower your energy bills. This is the perfect time to make sure you are ready for winter by checking your house is properly insulated. Some people even save up to £200 a year by switching suppliers, go to http://www.uswitch.com.
November - Home sprint. You are on the last leg now, keep going. If you are feeling good about things, now might be the time to think about your goals for next year, or even further into the future.
December - Celebrate! Pat yourself on the back; you have made it through! Hopefully you’ll have saved enough to enjoy a credit-free Christmas. You should also now be in a position where simple maintenance of your budget will keep you going long into the future.
If however, you’ve found yourself limping over the finish line then don’t panic help is at hand. Christians Against Poverty offers free advice regardless of age, gender, faith or background. Visit capuk.org or call 0800 328 0006. They also run free money management courses to help you budget those bills and save for the future. Visit www.capmoneycourse.org to find a course near you.