New Year, New Financial Outlook

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Every year we make promises to ourselves to make life better, healthier, and more prosperous. We aim to fix the problems that worry us and improve our prospects for the future. Much of this includes diet and exercise, but for many of us each year, we vow to get back on top of our finances. It’s easy to lose sight of spending, and even easier to miss payments on bills. If this has happened to you more than once in the last few months, now is a great time to regain control.

Adjust Your Budget

Even if you have a well thought out budget prepared already, it must be reviewed every quarter to ensure it still makes sense. The cost of everyday items like food and toiletries has gone up again recently. Chances are your tastes have changed somewhat too. And many of our favorite fruits and vegetables are seasonal. This means the price will fluctuate through the course of a year.

Of course the biggest weekly spend for many of us is fuel for the car or the commute expenses. These can creep up and up, but your wages likely have remained stagnant. Review what you’re spending again. Make use of any old budget templates you’ve been using, though. It will help point you to the receipts you need to check again. Finally, check your mortgage. If it’s on a variable rate, then it can be quite tricky to know how much it will cost you from month to month.

If you haven’t yet taken on your monthly budget, then why not make use of time off work to get started. There are many detailed templates you can use from free online sources. Use receipts, bank and credit card statements to fill in all the blanks. You might be surprised at just how much you do spend, regardless of frugal intentions. Use a detailed budgeting spreadsheet to see where you might be able to save money straight away.

The Bad News

Of course, digging deeper into your spending habits might also reveal some bad news. You might discover you’re spending more than you’re bringing in. There is no need to panic, but it is best you take action on this straight away. Start with all your non-essential spend. TV subscriptions and coffees from the cart can easily be stopped instantly. You might find a few other things. Others can be streamlined. Fewer snacks in the cart when you go grocery shopping, and buying only clothes you need instead of sale items as well.

Don’t be so keen to pay on credit

Now you need to assess the problems with your debts. These are typically loans, overdrafts and credit cards. Many come out of your bank account automatically each month. But your bank can refuse to pay them if your balance is too low. This puts you in arrears which impact negatively on your credit rating. You might also be charged a fee each time this happens, increasing your debt further.

There is a really helpful article on how to tackle creditors that you’re struggling to repay right now at It details the approach you should take to get them off your back. You might need to negotiate lower repayments and even request that interest is no longer added to the loan while you get back on track. This might sound like a lot of running around, especially if you have borrowed from multiple sources. Keeping on top of all your loans and debts isn’t easy.

You might be able to reduce the hassle of managing them all by consolidating them into a single loan. This means you have just one monthly payment to make each month instead of eight or nine. The interest rate might be lower than some of your credit cards or store cards too. However, you might be repaying the loan over a longer period so make sure you check out the total repayment value first. This type of debt management is often the last resort for many.

More Money

Of course, if money is tight, it can be tempting to put bills on your credit card for a while. The trouble with this is that it costs you a lot more than the original bill if you can’t pay it off that same month. If you don’t have enough money for your essential outgoings coming in, then you might need to consider getting a second job. For now, consider having a big clearout and take some time to photo things you might be able to sell. See websites like to see what sells well at the moment. You will also need to research online the value of each item before listing it.

Every little bit can go toward clearing your financial obligations

A big clearout also helps to declutter the house, which is of great benefit to your mental health. Best of all, it is helping you strip out the excess, just like you’re doing with your household budget. Now the clutter is out of the way, you can see what needs to be replaced. Equally, you can see that you are able to survive on less. It’s a healthy approach to the new year.

Selling your items might take some time and effort, but you could be raising enough cash to clear off a debt or two. After all that work, it might also be worth checking your frugality score. Are you keeping energy spend to a minimum by turning off the heat and lights when nobody is using it? Have you turned the thermostat down a notch to reduce the amount of heat used? Can you batch cook to reduce the use of the oven and hob? These little tips and tricks and more can help you reduce your household bills quite substantially.

Now it’s time to find ways to earn more money. A part-time role, or working from home can help here. You might be able to teach or tutor privately. Maybe you’re creative and can sell your artwork? See it as a temporary measure to clear off what you owe so that you can start fresh with your finances in the future. What do you promise for your finances this coming year?