Money, Money, Money

photo by John Althouse Cohen via PhotoRee

I was always the one who got excited by a new school year when I was younger. Brand new sharp pencils, the smell of the new books and that first clean page on the exercise book. Apart from the fact that I don’t wear school skirts rolled up short or indulge in ridiculously heavy eye make-up any more, little has changed, I still love a new year!

Every January I lovingly unwrap the new calendar and fill in it and get the diary set up (this year it’s a Dodopad Pax – for a stationery tart such as myself, this is like heaven!). Then it’s money time!

I’m told money can’t buy you happiness. I’m sure it can’t, but being skint can make you pretty miserable too. After Kieran was born I gave up my well paid career to work from home. An income that disappeared overnight was a challenge and a half and taught me a lot about not only how to budget better and save but also about my attitudes towards money. Even now, with my income restored I’m still careful and hate waste.

I set myself a few tasks at the beginning of each year:

  • Ring / contact all providers (ie gas/electric, phone/broadband/ insurances etc) and check I am on the correct / cheapest tariff / packages
  • Adjust budget accordingly
  • Use the new budget to update the standing order payments for savings.

Three simple steps when set me up financially. I do check tariff info throughout the year and when contacts expire but it’s important I start the year off properly.

Record keeping.

My business books are always kept up to date and I file my tax return in May every year (I like to get it out of the way). My household books are run the same way. I use free bookkeeping software to track my spends. Knowing whether or not you are keeping within your budget is important but looking closer can be helpful! Last year I looked back at my spends and realised I was doing a lot of top up shopping, despite doing a weekly shop. I was going mainly for fresh fruit and veg and while there I always managed to pick up some unneccesary items. Looking at this I decided to have a veg box delivered weekly and this has saved me a fortune.

This is just one example that shows how a bit of planning and organisation can make a big difference.

I enjoy my new page at the beginning of the year and getting organised. What do you do at the beginning of the year to start it off on the right foot?