With January almost at its end, it’s important to think about how far you’ve managed to get with your financial organisation for 2013; you may still be trying to clear off Christmas debts, or you may be looking to budget for the next few months in order to afford a holiday, or put some money aside. What are some of the best ways, then, for staying on top of your finances in 2013?
1 – Create Better Tax Records
While the tax filing deadline for 2011-2012 has almost passed, it’s worth going over your record keeping for 2012-2013 – this means keeping records of invoices and receipts for business expenses, as well as storing other receipts, and checking your tax code when you leave a job and start a new one.
2 – Get the Right Loan
If you’ve struggled in the past with high interest and debt, consider switching your approach to loans; try to avoid payday lenders, and their easy but costly loans. Instead, look towards companies that can offer longer repayment periods, and more balanced rates of interest.
3 – Re-Organise Your Files
There’s nothing worse for your financial planning than having to sort through bulging files and loose pieces of paper. Go through what you have, and sort papers into different files for your current accounts, savings, debts, credit cards, insurance, and other parts of your overall financial records. Consider scanning records into your computer as you go, as this will reduce your paper trail.
4 – Simplify Your Credit Card Debt
It is possible to simplify how much you’re borrowing on credit cards by transferring older cards onto a new one; many lenders now offer 0% rates on new balance transfers for a fixed time, which can help you to consolidate your repayments.
5 – Check Direct Debits
Make sure that you don’t have any old direct debits that you’ve forgotten to cancel; these might include old charity payments, magazine subscriptions, or payments to online DVD services. Sometimes these can continue to make payments if you forget to cancel them in time.
6 – Start Online Banking
If you haven’t do so already, start an online bank account; you can track your spending in much easier ways, and can also make payments and manage direct debits without having to go into your local bank branch every time.
7 – Get Serious About Saving
This means looking into long term savings accounts, which can include ISAs – tax free, ISAs allow you to pay in about five and a half thousand pounds per tax year, with options also available for investment ISAs.
8 – Make Use of Apps
You can manage your finances via your smartphone through apps like Mint, LearnVest, and Balance, which can either be synced up to your online banking, or configured for you to manually enter in your spending and income – the apps can then break down how much you’re spending, and can provide detailed stats on how your budget may be being exceeded.
9 – Use Your Local Credit Union
You can gain access to lower rates of interest and more stable emergency loans than payday lenders by joining your local credit union; putting your savings in your credit loan can mean that you benefit from a local lending agency that can provide safer alternatives to emergency loans.
10 – Keep Receipts
Try not to throw away paper receipts if you’re having problems with your spending. Keep receipts filed for a year, and go through them once a month to remind yourself of how much money you’re spending on different parts of your budget.