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5 Top Tips For Simplifying Your Finances

Ian Richards, Founder of Work to Live Financial Planning shares his 5 Tips For Simplifying Your Finances

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A common New Year resolution is to manage money better. But just like gym commitments, motivation can be short lived. The key to benefiting from this initial enthusiasm is to simplify your financial life

Tweaking your finances to make them work for you in 2021 will free up time allowing you to exercise your will power in other areas of your life.  The simpler you can make your finances, the easier they will be to manage, control and keep on track. 

Here are my top 5 practical tips to simplify your finances.

  1. CREATE A ONE PAGE FINANCIAL PLAN

Having a complex plan isn’t necessary and likely to get filed away in your drawer never to be looked at again.  A one-page financial plan will provide you with focus and a quick snapshot of your finances. In your plan, include:

  • The purpose you want money to serve in your life.  Take time to gain clarity and write this down making it the plan’s heading. When you refer back to your plan, make sure that your financial decisions align with your purpose.
  • List your top three financial goals for 2021 and three actions/habits needed to achieve them.  This will allow you to focus on your main goals and put your effort into achieving them.  More than three and you’ll lose focus and possibly experience overwhelm.  If you haven’t got any financial goals, now is a good time to make them.
  • Write down your current net worth, income and expenditure.
  • List any risks or opportunities that might hinder your aspirations.
  • Update your plan every few months as you achieve your goals.

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Get organised.

2. GET ORGANISED

There’s no getting away from it, this is a pain. But, like spring cleaning, it will set you up for the year ahead. You may be avoiding it for fear of what you will find, but at least you will have clarity.  Start with the following:

  • Go through your paperwork and discard what you don’t need. Shred or burn anything showing confidential information.
  • Move to paperless statements.
  • Look up current balances/rates on any credit cards or loans.  Find the value of your investments or pensions. Pull together in a simple spreadsheet to give you your net worth.
  • Cancel any subscriptions or credit cards that you no longer need.
  • Create a simple spending plan with a pen and paper to detail your high-level overview with four main areas: ‘FIXED’, ‘GENERAL SPENDING’, ‘LIFESTYLE SPENDING’, ‘DEBT’ and ‘FUTURE YOU’.  Always pay yourself first!

3. STREAMLINE YOUR BANKING SYSTEMS

If you have multiple accounts with different banks simplify them.  Consider bringing together accounts that you and your partner hold separately. I set up my accounts in line with how I structure my monthly spending – there are four in total:

  • Current Account: For fixed expenses/direct debits such as utility bills, mortgage, insurances, etc.
  • General Spending: For food, personal supplies, clothing, etc.
  • Lifestyle Spending:  The pleasure and leisure account for going out, hobbies, etc.
  • Savings Account: Where my money for ‘future me’ goes. Having a separate account (with different bank) stops temptation and spending.

Set up standing orders for the amount needed in each account as per your spending plan. This approach makes it easy to track and monitor overall spending in each area without having to follow every purchase.

4. AUTOMATE

The best approach is one that demands the least amount of time and effort.  Luckily with technology we can automate our finances. 

  • Set up automated payments for bills, credit cards or loans.
  • Automate your monthly savings and investments each month.
  • Set up a standing order from the account your income is paid into from the date you are paid, to automatically feed into your other accounts.
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Merge or Purge? The less accounts you have the easier they are to manage

5.CONSOLIDATE

Merge or purge. The less accounts or policies you have, the easier they are to manage.

  • Consolidate your debts if appropriate. Can you combine or get rid of any credit cards or loans? Make sure to consider what interest you are paying and whether this is the right option for you.
  • Consolidate your investments or pensions if your assets are spread around with different providers, or you have pensions from previous employers.  Consolidating them will make them simpler to monitor their performance and manage. Be sure to review any exit penalties or benefits that may be applied to existing pensions, speaking with a financial adviser would likely be beneficial.
  • Consolidate your protection policies.  There may be cost savings for combining your cover under one policy, especially if you have various life insurance plans.

By taking these steps you will simplify your finances, remain in control, achieve clarity, and get some time back for you! Making your money work for you with minimal effort sounds good doesn’t it?

Work to Live Financial Planning specialise in helping parents take control of their financial future, helping you make the right decisions at the right time, about spending, saving and investing your money.  They focus on helping you to balance being able to live a great life now, with preparing for the future. You can find out more at www.worktolivefinancialplanning.com

This guide is for information purposes and does not constitute financial advice, which should be based on your individual circumstances. If you need financial advice you should speak to a trusted financial adviser.

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