Changing the way you manage your money because you’re sick of giving it away is the first step to sorting out your income and expenses to build wealth. You don't have to feel daunted by implementing massive unachievable tasks with your money, you just have to want to take small steps to start getting on top of it all.
Dealing with one thing at a time is easier and less to juggle. If you can’t stick to financial New Year changes you set yourself, then you might like to try my slower strategy and stretch it out.
To make it easier for you, I’ve written up a list of some actionable things to tackle each month in 2020 to improve your money management over the course of the year.
If you’re all in for a big change and fast, you can put all of these into practice sooner than monthly but if change scares you, try this monthly plan instead.
*Before you start;
FILL OUT MY 2020 YEARLY PLANNER AND WRITE IN ALL APPROXIMATE DATES OF FORECASTED BILLS DUE FOR THE YEAR, ALL SUBSCRIPTIONS AND INSURANCES. ALSO HOLIDAYS, BIRTHDAYS AND EVENTS TO SEE YOUR WHOLE YEAR OF COSTS.
Sign up below to receive the free current planner and other cheat sheets to make managing your money easier. Print this planner, A3 size is best and use it for the coming year (print A3 size at Officeworks if A4 too small).
12 month 'TO DO LIST' for your money
Allocate every dollar of your income.
Create a budget for yourself or with your partner if you’re a couple. You need to allocate your money to give every dollar a place to go, otherwise this is where wasted spending happens. Write down all of your income and expenses to cover everything and you’ll discover where your wasted money goes to then put to better use.
If you already follow a budget, revise this for the coming year. Think about and allow for any circumstances changing in the coming year to forecast where you’ll allocate your money each time you’re paid (follow your budget). Plan to tick off some goals later in the year by starting to work towards them within your budget.
Don’t forget to get a small $1000 emergency fund together if you haven't already. Get it saved early in the year to act as a buffer for emergencies while you continue on following your budget without interruption. You’ll be prepared and one step ahead for the year by having one of these helpful funds. They save you.
Before the kids go back to school, write up a chore list for pocket money to not only learn to earn things but to give the adults a bit of help and relief so you can concentrate on managing the family finances you may have been ignoring for a while ;)
Get onto the new year expenses early.
Pay all school fees and any other school costs that must be paid at the start of the year to get these expenses out of the way. For all other living expenses, are there any auto payments or direct debits you can set up to make your life easier?
Check in with any debt you’re paying off. How many more months until you’re debt free? Write down your anticipated final repayment dates to see where the end of it will be. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you’re able to save money, fill in savings charts to keep motivated.
Find a way to reduce all expenses you pay.
Go through all of your bills and weekly expenses to reduce the amount you’re giving away. Look at all utility bills, insurances and memberships. Everything you pay monthly, quarterly and yearly. Can you change companies, plans, fees or cancel anything you no longer use or want?
Find out and write down on your yearly planner when your current plans or contracts end for mobile phones, electricity, home phone and internet. Can you choose a better plan or contract at the end of the term? Mobile phone plans are the worst for this so change plans at the end of your contract or they’ll continue to take more than you need to pay.
Write down a list of all extra memberships and subscriptions you have. Are you still paying for anything you don’t actually use or get value from anymore? Can you funnel any amounts you’ve been paying into something more important like debt?
If you reduce just 6 weekly expenses by $10 each, you'll net yourself another $3,000 to use somewhere else in your budget.
What's your why? Or reason for wanting more wealth?
A good time to think about any goals you want to achieve this year or even next year. Work with your partner to come up with some mutual dreams and goals you can achieve together or if you’re on a single income, write down some things you can work towards yourself. Research and plan a holiday for the short term future. Work out a rough budget you’ll need for the holiday, where you can afford to go and when would be a smart time to travel.
What else would you like to do? Maybe you want to get rid of any debt once and for all, renovate a room in your house or just cross a few small things off a growing to do list? Having goals and actually achieving them creates a feeling of success in your life which then leads to contentment and being happy with everything you have.
You should by now have an emergency fund saved.
A small $1000 buffer to cover any medical, whitegoods breakdown or car emergencies that can happen while you’re trying to get ahead. Use this only for emergencies so you can continue to follow your budget at the same time. Emergencies are the best way to ruin a budget if you’re not prepared for them.
Look at all of your debt. List everything you owe in order of smallest amount to largest amount and make a plan to pay each one off. Think of the extra income you could have if you had no repayments. Find out the balance of all loans including any student loans to get a realistic picture of your situation. Find out when you could be debt free?
It’s almost tax time.
Get all of your tax things finalised by having everything you need to do your tax return. Any records, bank statements, receipts, investment earnings, donations and other claims. Make an appointment with your accountant early to get your refund ASAP.
If you have a rough idea how much refund you’ll get, think about how you can best use your tax return. Can you use it as an emergency fund? Wipe out any debt? Do you need to repair or upgrade anything at home? Would it benefit you to top up your bills account? Or can you use it to finalise one of your goals for the year?
End of financial year sales are on.
While I don’t think it’s wise to just spend your tax return, if you do need to replace or purchase anything make it at this time of year when sales are happening everywhere to clear out old stock. Big priced items is where you’ll save the most like furniture and whitegoods but it’s also a good time to buy clothes and shoes you need. Plan ahead of time for this by saving the cash to buy when the sales hit.
This is also a good month to look at any fees you pay. Ask your bank or credit card company for an interest rate reduction or waiver fees as you’ve been a loyal customer? I do this and recently had an annual fee of $160 waived for the life of the account. Now I no longer pay a yearly fee. These fees are a ridiculous waste of money going to the banks and they don’t need it. A credit card interest rate reduced by any amount allows you to pay more off the balance and less in interest especially while trying to pay it off so it’s worth a phone call to see if they can keep you as a customer ;)
Check in with your health.
You shouldn’t neglect your health while you’re concentrating on managing your money. Winter is a good time for a Dental check-up, If you have private health insurance you're entitled a free clean and check up every year so take advantage and go in the cold season when you’re less busy. Don’t neglect your eyes either. Keep on top of your optical needs by updating your glasses every few years and having other medical check ups as needed.
Also check in with any investments you might have. How are they growing? Are they giving you enough return on investment? Where else can you be making money? Can your hobbies make you any extra money on the side (temporary or permanently)?
Time to spring clean your finances further.
Sell any unwanted and unused things around the house. Pick some rooms in your house to de-clutter and deep clean. A clean house is a clean mind and a clean mind can think, plan and achieve more.
Clean out your email inbox and phone too. Delete old text messages especially the ones containing photos as this uses up memory space on your phone. File photos where you need to, delete any unused apps and sync it to backup. It’s a good idea to do this often but a spring clean once a year is better than never or only when updating your phone.
Also get in the garden in spring to revive it (like your finances). Pot up any extra plants that have multiplied to use as gifts or to also sell to make some extra cash.
Only 3 months until the end of the year!
Be prepared for Christmas by thinking about it now. Write a Christmas present list and budget for everything extra you’ll spend money on. How much in total do you want to use for Christmas? Divide this total amount (you’re willing to part with) into separate categories to cover everyone’s presents, food, drinks, decorations and any travel you might need to pay for. Add this to your budget to have the money ready when needed or save small amounts as a Christmas fund during the whole year.
Once the money part is worked out, decide what presents you need to buy with the allocated money so you don’t go shopping without a plan. Start buying these presents between now and Christmas when they’re on sale.
Like anything, if Christmas has a plan, it will run smooth and be stress free.
Check your legals.
Who are the named beneficiaries of your assets and investments? Are those named on your accounts correct and current? Check this detail especially if your circumstances have changed since you last looked into it. Make sure the named people on your accounts are the people you’d want your money to go to if you die.
Are all of your legals up to date and sorted? Do you need to update your will or any insurance policies while thinking about your beneficiaries? Remember, every adult needs a will but you only need insurance to cover things you’re not able to replace or cover the cost of.
Be prepared for the new year ahead of time.
Get a new yearly planner to prepare for the following year. Buy the kids text books, devices, uniforms and stationery for the coming year. Start putting money away for school fees and pay in total early next year if you can. It’s one less thing to worry about all year.
As with the end of a year with new beginnings just around the corner, now is a good time to reflect on what you’ve been able to achieve in small steps throughout the year. It’s also a good time to think ahead to the following year and if you haven’t already reached the goal you wanted to at the start of this year, no doubt you’re close to and before you know it you’ll be planning your next goals. Each will become easier and you’ll achieve them faster, especially if you free up a lot of your income that you used to use for repayments until you got out of debt ;)
Plan your new goals ahead of time and again write them down to stay accountable. You'll move forward, get out of debt and save towards anything you want. Just by having the dream you can make a goal, create a plan and follow the needed steps to work towards your goal. The only person stopping you, is you.
YOU'VE FOLLOWED SMALL STEPS OVER 12 MONTHS TO NOT ONLY IMPROVE YOUR BUDGET BUT ALSO MANAGE YOUR MONEY TO WORK FOR YOU, NOT COMPANY PROFITS!