City thinking, local knowledge

Get Your Finances in Order for the New Year

By Questa Chartered

The start of a new year is the perfect time to get on top of your finances and make it easier to manage your money in the future.

So where should you start? Here are a few small changes you could make that would make a big difference both to you and your family.

Review your subscriptions and utilities

It’s easy to take your eye off the ball when it comes to your direct debits, and in turn end up paying more than you need to. So take a quick look at how much you’re paying for basic utilities, such as energy and broadband, as well as subscriptions, from TV streaming services to beauty boxes.

You may find that you’re paying over the odds for something when you could get a better deal elsewhere, or be able to negotiate a lower rate with your current provider. Alternatively, you might realise you’re paying for services you don’t even use, or don’t use enough to justify this regular expense. Would you miss it if you cancelled it, and if not, why are you still paying for it?

Looking at your bank statements and asking yourself basic questions like these could lead to you freeing up considerable amounts of money, which you could then save or reinvest elsewhere.

Set and stick to a budget

If you want to avoid overspending and save more money in 2023, it’s important to work out how much you can actually afford to spend on essentials and non-essentials.

Work out how much income you’re receiving overall and compare this with your general expenses, from your weekly grocery shop and bills, to general taxation and discretionary spending.

When you’ve got a good idea of what the big picture looks like, you can calculate how much you’re able to spend in each area, with your longer-term financial goals firmly in mind.

Pay down your debts

Debts can have a huge impact both on your wider finances and your mental health, so working to pay these down could be a great way to start the year.

Start by prioritising what needs to be paid off first, and if possible, concentrate on the highest interest debts first, such as credit cards. This can put your finances on much firmer foundations and have the added benefit of improving your credit score.

At the same time, it can significantly reduce your stress levels, as you can confidently budget for other aspects of your life and feel confident that your money is working harder for you.

Create an emergency fund

By their very nature, emergencies don’t happen at convenient times, so you need to be ready in the event of something going wrong. That could be anything from an expensive appliance breaking to a flood or fire ravaging your home.

If something like this happens to you, you don’t want the pain and distress to be compounded by financial woes. With that in mind, it pays to put some money aside in a separate fund on a just in case basis, so if an emergency does occur, you don’t have to borrow money or plunder your savings.

Be ready for key dates

Although the future can look uncertain, there are many events we can prepare for. For instance, the new tax year begins in April, so you can make sure you use your tax allowances before the deadline. Similarly, you know that Christmas can be expensive, so instead of putting yourself under pressure at the end of 2023, why not save a little all year round, so it’s less of a financial burden?

Make sure your will is up to date

If your will doesn’t reflect your current circumstances, it won’t accurately state what you want to happen to your estate when you die.

That can, in turn, land your loved ones with big legal problems when you pass away, and potentially cause serious family disputes.

Perhaps you’ve split up from your spouse since you first wrote your will, had a baby or bought a property. Maybe you’ve bought shares in a business, become estranged from a relative who is named in your will, or the person you named as an executor has passed away.

Start the year off by reviewing your will and making changes where necessary. Your family will certainly thank you for it.

If you have any questions about getting on top of your finances and making your money work harder for you, it’s a great idea to speak to a professional financial planner.

With an expert taking a look at your individual situation, you can feel confident that you’re making the right decisions and working to achieve your financial goals.

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