The new year has arrived, and after a month, you may still feel as though you’re just not making progress with your financial goals. Perhaps you’ve been doing everything you can think of to build up your savings account, but you’re not seeing the results that you thought you would achieve.
Don’t worry, many of the most important habits when it comes to money-saving are developed and perfected over time. Cutting back on spending, investing, and even saving money are all processes that take time and patience. However, there are some things that you can accomplish quickly that can make a big difference to your life. If you’re sick and tired of struggling with your finances, here’s how you can improve your situation in a year or less.
1. Get Tracking
The first thing that you need to do if you want to make a real difference to your financial situation, is understand what’s going on with your cash right now. If you want to get to a new point in your life, then you need to know where you are right now, which means getting copies of all your bank statements, or viewing them online.
Start logging your expenses and making lists of the money that you spend when you’re out and about each day. Keep track of everything – including the little expenses that you would usually ignore or define as “not a big deal”. Eventually, you’ll be able to get a better insight into where you usually spend the majority of your money, and where your biggest problem areas might be.
2. Know Your Personal Savings Rate
Once you’ve got a better insight into your spending habits, it’s time to plan your personal savings rate. Your personal savings rate is essentially the amount of disposable income that you don’t spend within a specific time frame. Start by calculating your average income for the year, then calculate how much you save each year. For instance, if you earn about £2,000 a month, and save £200 between your savings account and retirement funds, then you’re probably going to have a personal savings rate of 10%.
The savings figure that you have should include contributions to any retirement accounts and savings accounts that you want to build up over time. Knowing your rate will help you to understand how much you’re actually putting into your savings each month, and it will also help you to decide on a percentage that you want to aim for.
3. Improve your Credit score
Improving your credit score now could deliver some serious benefits for you in the long term. You shouldn’t be waiting to consider your credit score until you’re thinking about taking out a personal loan. The better your score is, the easier it will be to secure lower interest rates on everything from car loans, to credit cards, and even your new mortgage.
If you’re planning to buy a house one day, or you want to open up a new credit card, improving your credit score will save you thousands over the year. Start by pulling up your credit report and checking out your score. From there, you can get a better insight into the story that your credit is currently telling people about you. The knowledge you gain will help you to decide what you need to do next to start ramping up your credit and giving people a better first impression of you as a consumer.
4. Take Small Steps
Changing your financial situation isn’t something that happens overnight. However, if you’re looking for something to do in the short-term to help you out in the future, it all starts with small steps. For instance, instead of spending £10 a week on fast food, consider whether you can drop down to only spending £10 every two weeks.
Maybe it will help to take a list with you to the supermarket, so you know exactly what you want to buy, and stop over-spending on the foods that you see when you’re browsing the aisle. Start by implementing one small change into your routine a month. While not all of your new habits will necessarily stick, they’ll all begin to move you into the right direction, and towards financial independence.
5. Find the Right Support
Finally, remember that there are people in your life that can support you as you begin to make financial changes – so let them help. Talk through your financial goals, worries, and potential plans with your loved ones, and they might be able to give you some tips on how to achieve your targets.