As we move through the festive period and into the new year, it’s important to consider the changes or improvements you hope to make in life. If you’re lucky and content with your day-to-day lifestyle, you may just try more of the same, perhaps aiming to be a little kinder and to give more of your energy to other people. After all, everyone can make 1% improvements here and there.
Even if things are just dandy, it can always be helpful to look at your general day-to-day decision-making and consider if there are any adjustments to make. Perhaps you’ll try and repair relations with a neighbor, or make the effort to walk in nature more this year now your job has remote work possibilities available.
Of course, there are some evergreen priorities to focus on. We can always make better health decisions, so perhaps in 2024 you hope to decrease your drinking by at least half. Another evergreen priority is that of personal budgeting and financial management. As the old saying goes – more money, more problems – which is why even affluent people still have to plan out their finances.
So, let’s consider how to achieve that below:
Financial management is only useful if it’s convenient. There’s a reason why most people don’t walk into the bank to speak with a teller on a daily basis except for for business, mortgage or loan decisions, because online banking has made most processes simple and easy to manage.
In that line of thinking, it’s worth also considering what additional conveniences could apply to your personal needs. Perhaps you purchase a great number of consumer items and try to get the best deal online, but you’ve found that using your main bank card for these different websites is a little less secure than you’d like it to be.
In that case, signing up for an account with a challenger bank can be used for easy money management, and even give you rotating single-use virtual cards that help you spend money safely, knowing your financial information is never tracked from place to place. This is just one example of a convenience – perhaps yours shift depending on the goal you’re reaching for. Either way, good planning makes a big difference.
Systemize & Prioritize Debt Repayments
Debt isn’t always a bad thing. After all, most of us take debt on when using the mortgage system to purchase a house that we may not otherwise be able to afford in one payment. That said, it’s also important to remember that debts can get out of hand if not carefully managed.
That’s why taking a focused approach to prioritizing your debts, and systemizing those priorities into manageable habits, will help you keep in good standing with your accounts. In some cases, it may be that renegotiating service contracts can be a good place to start. If you’re in arrears for some payments, you may contact creditors or use services that bind debt repayments into one calculated fee each month.
In some cases, you may centralize your approach to financing purchases. You might cut all of your store cards and close your accounts, only keeping those that are an absolute priority, for example, a credit card with a fashionwear company so you can outfit your children and members of the household for an entire season and then pay off the bill in segments. When you prioritize debt, you have more control over it.
Consider An Automated Savings Approach
Saving money is a prerequisite for most people, because we all know that spending money as soon as you get it can lead to having nothing left at the end of the month. That said, not everyone has the kind of disposable income that can permit constant and repeated savings. It might just be that the cost of living is hitting you hard, or perhaps you’re trying to adjust your budget to your family members (and their needs) expanding.
If you can’t put away 10% of your paycheck every month, or if regular saving is quite difficult for you at the moment, that’s totally understandable. This is where looking to the kind of savings that can accrue in small ways can be so helpful. For example, some banking apps will now allow you to create “savings pots,” which will round up every purchase to the nearest dollar, pound, euro or other currency. This means that if you spend $0.85 on an espresso, you’ll have saved $0.15 automatically. It also allows you to cost out your savings over time, and budget more easily, knowing this extra money is still yours, but put away for when you really need it.
Search For The Best Deals
During a cost of living crisis, many companies and services can have trouble retaining clients. All of them are looking for a deal. This gives you some kind of leverage if it comes time to renegotiate your contract.
As much of a bluff as it can be, threatening to leave for another service when renegotiating your contract can help inspire them to find the best deal for you. You can also really process this alternative, such as by checking out the local and best deals for certain deals. It may be that you find more affordability in a contract-free monthly SIM package and purchasing your new phone second-hand this year, as opposed to opting for an expensive contract with a brand-new handset.
Ultimately, searching for the best deals gives you wriggle room and helps you avoid feeling ripped off. This helps start the ball rolling regarding your personal finances much more easily.
Create A Visual Budget Board
It’s easy to assume that an Excel spreadsheet will perfect your budgeting approach, and yes, many people are quite proud of the spreadsheet they’ve designed to track family finances. Not everyone has the skills to conjure up such a document, however, and outside of their standard budget financing, we could benefit from a little visual help.
A visual budget board can be a great place to start. Here you might have clear-to-see priorities to save for as well as an updated savings pot you renew every week. This way, the entire family can see how much money you might have for the upcoming wedding, and family members can easily make donations to the fund where necessary.
This also inspires you to keep going, to keep living in a frugal manner until your final goal has been achieved. Such priorities can fluctuate, but it certainly helps inspire you to keep going in your willingness to meet them.
Adjust Your Standard Of Living
For some people, their standard of living perfectly matches their regular income and outgoings. Sure, you can cut costs everywhere if you really try, but for some people, that’s not where value lies. For example, if you earn enough to enjoy a particular brand of washing up liquid that feels more expensive but lasts for longer too, well, that might be worth it to you.
Many people assume adjusting a standard of living simply means downgrading everything you’re allowed to purchase or enjoy, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, a careful approach can grant you freedom in your purchasing decisions like nothing else. For example, perhaps for some items such as toilet rolls, fabric conditioner, even green tea bags, you’re more than happy to purchase the savers or own-brand option at the supermarket. Sure, this might be a small downgrade, but ultimately you won’t notice it and continue saving.
Your standard of living can adjust in many small ways like this if you’re looking for a little extra spending power, and your meals of the week can rotate depending on what’s on sale. This helps you avoid feeling ripped off or as if your standard of living can’t adjust.
Make Use Of Programs Designed To Help You
We’re all used to hearing sweet golden promises that ultimately lead nowhere, after all, much of marketing is about telling you that your life is incomplete without a given product or service. That said, there really are programs out there designed to help.
For example, you might have a favorable retirement investment fund at your workplace. If you donate a certain amount to your retirement fund, they might match it to a certain level or help you expand your security as time goes on.
Up until this point (especially if you’re new to your chosen career), you might not have leveraged every support effort designed to give you a little long-term extra affordability. 2024 can be the perfect year to get the ball rolling on a financially stable future. Using financial advisors can be an incredible step forward on that journey. After all, not every single financial decision we make will necessarily benefit us in 2024, but luckily, there are many more years to live than simply this.
With this advice, you’re certain to refresh your approach to personal finance in 2024. In the long run, this will help you not only save more money and feel more stable, but enjoy a sharper, more precise look at your financial standing.