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Overspending at Christmas in addition to the gap between the early Christmas wages and January’s payday make January a tough month. In fact, 28% of people in the UK admit to feeling under a great deal of stress and financial strain. So, unsurprisingly, a lot of us really start to get our finances in order around this time of year. To help you along, we’ve put together a February financial to do list that will kick start your new year and get you on the road to financial security.
February Financial to do list: 10 top tips
#1. Budget for the year
Now, if you’re anything like us, you’ll already have made your budget for the year in January. So why have we included this to put on your February Financial to do list?
Well, unsurprisingly, in the January pinch, it’s not uncommon to be really unrealistic with your budget.
We bet you said things like “I’m never getting a coffee again” or “I’m never going to go out for drinks after work” or even “I’m going to get another job!”.
Well, now the rough month is over, it’s time to revisit that budget and see how you’ve done over the last month or so. Did you stick to it? Did you fall a little short? And, most importantly, is it realistic?
Like any change, the key to turning your finances around isn’t big, drastic changes but little changes that become second nature. If you’re really having to force yourself not to spend money or get that coffee, it might be better to work that into your budget.
#2. Check your credit score
If it’s been a while since you checked your credit score, now’s the time to change that. Checking your credit score regularly lets you keep an eye on your progress and let’s you see when you might be eligible for better credit options to help you save money.
Best of all, you can do it for free. Here’s a handy article that talks you through the process.
PS. If you only choose a few things from this February Financial to do list, this should be one of them.
#3. Start paying off your high-interest debts
If you’ve got a few debts — perhaps a loan, a credit card and an overdraft — February is the time to start thinking about clearing the high-interest debts, because they’re the ones costing you the most money.
There’s a psychological approach to clearing debts that might come in handy here: snowballing.
The idea is to clean up your debts by choosing one source of debt and then focus all of your efforts on getting rid of it while making minimum repayments on all of your other debts.
The idea is that it’s psychologically rewarding to see one debt cleared and that spurs you on to clearing the next and the next and the next until you’re debt free!
#4. Start saving for something
With January behind you, it might be time to start thinking about a goal for the year. Maybe it’s a new car or a deposit for a house, saving for something is a great way to focus and get back on track.
And it doesn’t have to be lots, either. £10 or £20 a week tucked away adds up quickly over the course of the year. You can also use apps like Chip or Moneybox to automate the process so it happens without you even realising, if you prefer.
#5. Start building a safety net
This is what your parents probably called a “rainy day” fund; an emergency stash of money that is set aside for any unexpected events that may happen out of the blue and have a huge financial impact: losing your job, getting ill, having a car accident or emergency home repairs.
The idea is to tuck away at least the equivalent of one month’s net pay as savings so that, you don’t need to immediately worry about money. But you don’t need to do it all at once, just start putting away what you can every month and it’ll soon build up.
#6. Practice money mindfulness
Money mindfulness sounds a bit hippy, doesn’t it? A little bit like we’re going to all sit around in a field and meditate on our finances.
Well, it’s not quite like that. In a nutshell, money mindfulness is about being aware of how you spend your money, how much you spend and — importantly — how you feel about money. It’s a cross between new age thinking and budgeting, and it’s very popular at the moment.
We’re not saying to go the whole hog — analyse your ideas around money and what your parents taught you about spending — but spending a month being more mindful of how you spend money (and why) can make a huge shift to your thinking.
The most common thing people who practice money mindfulness notice is how those mindless, inconsequential purchases — the coffees, the takeaways, the lunches — add up.
#7. Read a book on money
Last year, we read The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan and we’ve got nothing but good things to say about it.
It breaks down everything you’ve ever wanted to know — or have been too scared to find out — about personal finance and shows you exactly how to break out of debt cycles and get back on track.
Plus, it’s fun to read, which is a massive bonus.
If you don’t want to buy the book, The Financial Diet has a Youtube Channel that’s well worth checking out.
Here’s a particularly good video on how to stay on top of your money:
#8. Start thinking about the future
If you’re thinking about having kids, getting married, moving house, going travelling or anything big in the next year or two, now’s the time to add “start planning” to your February Financial To Do List.
Not only will it give you more time to save and get ready, but it’ll also help guide your financial decisions in the year ahead.
#9. Get thrifty
Thrifty can mean lots of things to lots of people. For some people, it means mending your clothes when they rip or buying things second-hand. For others, it means not throwing food away or saving money on their bills.
Really, it’s just about making sure that you think about what you spend.
If you want to cut back your spending, head to the Frugal section of our blog for lots of advice on how to get started.
#10. Start meal-prepping
You know how it is: you go food shopping with the best of intentions to cook nice dinners every day of the week, but then you have a long, hard day at the office and when you get home, the takeaway is calling. Or you fancy stopping in at the shop to pick up a quick pizza.
The problem is: those purchases add up quickly.
The same goes with lunch, too: if you buy lunch every day, then that small purchase adds up quickly over the course of the year. Even your average £3 meal day adds up to around £60 a month.
Setting aside a couple of hours every Sunday to batch cook your meals and prepare your lunches for the week could not only save you money, but help you make healthier choices, too.
Here’s a great video that goes over some really tasty meal prep recipes you could try:
So, there you have it. Our top 10 wallet-friendly, money-saving tips to add to your February Financial To Do List, so you can end the year in a happier, more financially secure place.
Did we miss anything? Is there anything on your February Financial To Do List you’d like us to cover on the blog? Let us know in the comments!
- Author The Bamboo Team
- Posted 1 February 2019