How to Take Control of Your Personal Finances in 2018

The New Year has finally arrived, and for a lot of people, that means that it’s the perfect time to start making some important changes. While many of you will be focused on things like losing weight, quitting smoking, or accomplishing other personal goals, it’s worth noting that a new year is also a great opportunity to start thinking about your financial health, and how you can make the most out of your budget.

Making the effort to take control of your finances in time for 2018 could mean that you’re better prepared to accomplish more of your cash-related goals. The only problem is, while most people know that they need to get better at managing their money, many don’t know how to start. With that in mind, here are 5 steps to launch you on the path to financial freedom.

1. Make a Realistic Budget

The first and most important thing you can do when you’re trying to be more sensible with your money is figure out how you’re using it in the first place. Look at how much you have coming in each month, and how much you have going out. Then organise your expenses into “essentials” and “luxuries”. Your essentials can be groceries, electricity, heating fuel, etc. You can further squeeze your budget by cutting down on essentials like utility bills. Now cutting down on essentials may sound ridiculous but you can ask your service providers if they can allow you to pay the annual usage charge over the course of the year. Some heating oil providers tend to estimate the annual home heating bills of their consumers and then allow them to make the payment in smaller instalments over the course of 12 months.

For most people, the key to successful budgeting is not pushing yourself to give up on too many things at once. Allow yourself the occasional treat, and you’ll find that you’re less likely to fall off the wagon when it comes to making difficult decisions on what to purchase.

2. Schedule Time to Assess Your Personal Finance and Holdings

Once you’ve got a budget in mind, it’s important to remember that you should be constantly evaluating and updating it to suit your current circumstances. Some of the most financially successful people in the world spend hours every month planning and managing their finances.

You’d also make a top-down assessment of all assets that are in your name or are to be transferred to you. If there are, for instance, Florida property deeds which state that you’re entitled to acquire ownership of a particular property, you’d want to see to it that the formalities involved are taken care of. Staying on top of all your holdings clarifies how you should go about your spending habits. And as the months go by, you’ll be able to see yourself making progress, and this could help to keep you motivated throughout the year.

3. Set Short-term, and Long-term Goals

Speaking of motivation, that’s one of the key problems that people face when they’re trying to take control of their money. If you don’t have the right drive keeping you focused, then you’re going to have a harder time when it comes to convincing yourself that you shouldn’t be spending your entire salary.

Setting some long, and short-term goals at the start of the year could improve your focus. For instance, ask yourself what you’d like to be able to accomplish in the next 6 months, as well as where you’d like to be at the end of the year. Is there anything in particular that you want to be saving for? Or are you simply looking for a way to make sure you’re not living from check to check?

4. Educate Yourself on Personal Finance

While money plays a huge part in many peoples lives, we don’t get a great deal of education to help us understand it when we’re growing up. There are no classes in school specifically tailored to money management, which means that many people are left wandering through life without a clue of how they should be handling their cash.

If you’re not sure how to make the most of your money, commit some time to reading up on your finance options. Don’t try to learn everything at once, just give yourself twenty minutes a month to read some blog posts, or peruse some interesting articles.

5. Speak to an Expert

Finally, if you feel completely confused and overwhelmed by the concept of finances, then it might be helpful to speak to someone who can assess your situation and provide some personalised advice. Financial planners and money experts can give you an insight into what your options are based on your current cash flow situation. This is particularly useful for people who might be interested in making some investments or saving money for retirement.

Speaking to an expert about your finances isn’t the right option for everyone, but it’s great for those who want to feel in control of their money, but don’t want to have to go through the process of figuring everything out alone.