Here are a few practical things you can do right now to make sure that you get off to a positive start this year:
1. Draw a line under any overspending
Once you feel like you’ve already overspent, it can be very easy to continue spending – particularly as the January sales arrive and temptation is still all around. Continuing to spend even when you’re worrying about money is, in my own personal experience, very normal – but it can cause even more stress in the long term.
Drawing a line under damaging spending habits is about accepting and forgiving yourself for any money mistakes that you might have made in the heady Christmas season, and not continuing those patterns of behaviour into the new year.
Used wisely, a credit card can help with your cash flow and build your credit score, but it’s important to know your stuff and have a plan to pay it back. So, if you’ve borrowed on a credit card or overdraft, as many people do at Christmas, now is a good time to make a realistic plan to repay what you owe in an affordable way.
2. Don’t bury your head in the sand
As tempting as it is to put any financial worries to the back of your mind, all that usually happens is that they grow in size and become more and more daunting to deal with. I took this ostrich approach for a very long time and the worry that built up at the back of my mind became more and more difficult to deal with: to the point where money was the last thing I thought about before I went to sleep, and the first thing on my mind when I woke up in the morning.
A really great habit to get into for the new year is checking in on your finances on a weekly basis, and to make it something enjoyable – or at least bearable. Choose a time when you’re as free of other stresses as possible and treat it as an act of self-care, because it’s really difficult to feel good if you’re worrying about money.
3. Make a plan
Making sure you’re aware of any shortfalls in your budget or upcoming bills is important for both your peace of mind and your bank balance, because then you can do something about it.
Living with a budget is one of the best ways you can protect and enhance your financial wellbeing. For a very long time, I went from month to month without any kind of plan and saw budgeting as boring and restrictive – something to be endured for a short amount of time to achieve a specific goal.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Your budget can be your ultimate tool for working out what you can say yes to in life, without dealing with the financial fallout afterwards.
In order to feel more relaxed and in control of your finances in 2021, it’s a good idea to sit down and run through your income and outgoings, ditching any unused subscriptions and checking where you can be making savings. Then, the most important part? Keep going.
4. Communicate with your bank
If you’re worried about money, or you’re not sure where to start, it’s always a good idea to speak to your bank about any options that are open to you, or any ways that they can help you.
January can be strange and disorientating – but don’t let your post-Christmas finances be yet another weight on your mind. You deserve a fresh start in 2021, and the best way to do that is with a plan that works for you.