For many of us, the joys of Christmas can be overshadowed by financial worries. When we should be relaxing and enjoying time with family and friends, we end up fretting about making ends meet. However, some basic budgeting can ease a lot of your worries. Here we show you how.
While this article will advise you on how to get through the next through weeks without plummeting into the red, much of this advice is relevant all year around. Good financial management need not take a lot of sacrifice and will benefit you immeasurably.
The first thing you need to do is keep track of your finances on a regular basis. We recently reported that over a half of British consumers check their current account balance once a week, while one in five check it only once a month. We recommend that you review all your transactions and check your statements at least twice a week to see what money is coming in and what money is going out.
This is easily done. You can go into your local bank, you can go to an ATM, you can even check it on the internet. Mobile banking is also a growing trend so there is no excuse for not checking your bank balance. Companies like Monilink let you receive your bank statements on your mobile regularly.
If you see that you are spending too much, the worst thing you can do is put your head in the sand. If there is a problem, deal with it as quickly as possible. Usually, all it takes is some simple budgeting.
Take out a piece of paper and in two columns make of a list of the essential and non-essential items that you spend your money on. The essential items are the things that must be paid, such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, council tax and food. Your list of non-essential items will include things like clothes, socialising, gadgets and weekends away.
This month, and every month, look at the money available for non-essential items and see how you can put it to better use. With Christmas approaching, this money will probably need to go towards buying presents and socialising. However, be aware of how much you have to spend and budget accordingly. You do not have to go out every night of the holiday season and you do not have to break the bank buying presents.
In the following months, try to maintain this habit. You will probably not be under such financial pressure as you are over Christmas, so think about how you can play with this money. There are many excellent savings and investment options, or perhaps try to clear any debts you may have.
We all have to treat ourselves once in a while so there is no need to live like a monk. However, try to be sensible in your spending. If you look closely at where your money goes you are likely to find that much of it is frittered away on trivial things. Your morning coffee and newspaper probably costs the best part of £100 a month, while going out to lunch every day will cost much more than that. Cutting out a few small luxuries can ease the pressure and free up cash for much more worthwhile pursuits.
To help you further, here is a link to a short video clip of Lawrence Gold, from TV's 'The Bank of Mum and Dad', offering advice on getting smart with our finances.