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From money chaos comes fear, and with it the seemingly impossible – yet unavoidable – task of sifting through your finances. So, you procrastinate, which is completely understandable! Let’s face it: when it’s in such a mess, how do you know what to do first? Getting some structure in place for your finances is essential if you want to bring order to the chaos.
So, in today’s post, I’m going to share with you how I manage my money throughout the year. If you find it takes a while to get used to doing this, or you feel that it seems to be taking forever, I can assure you that it will get easier with time. While I’m not perfect, I do know that committing to reviewing my finances every week definitely makes me feel in control and it will help you, too.
My Money Life Admin Timescales
I have set tasks to do on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, and spend an hour – or less – each week focusing on my finances. There are a few odd bits I do each day, but mostly, I have dedicated weekly tasks.
I also spend around an hour a month on my budget, setting up all of my accounts for the month ahead. Then once a year, I spend a few hours each year sorting bills, renewing contracts or switching providers, which requires a certain amount of time with research and phone calls.
Overall, the processes take up very little time once the foundations are in place. Personally, I find it best to have everything accessible and together. I actually use my own budgeting planner, which you can buy here. I use this planner because I find it so helpful to be able to work through all areas of my finances in one place.
Weekly Money Tasks
Each week, I plan for any outgoings that are coming up in the next few days. My budgeting planner features a calendar, where, on each day a bill is due, I mark the relevant bill together with the amount. So then that week, I know in advance the exact amount of money that will be debited from my bank account.
This is something you can do too, and you could also factor in any big spends you know you’ve got coming up. If you have plans at the weekend, you can prepare for any spending in advance, making sure you have enough funds. Or, if you’re going away for a weekend, or going to the cinema etc., you can start to factor these things into your week too.
No Spend Day
The other thing I do is I plan for at least one no-spend day. This can be challenging, particularly when you’re bored. But see if you can find something else to do that doesn’t cost anything or get resourceful and use up what you’ve already got.
The final thing I do on a weekly basis is track my income, which is where it gets fun! When I track my income, I don’t just track money, I also track gifts. If someone has gifted me a freebie, such as a book, or a coffee for example, I give it a monetary value. That gets added to my income tracker along with any income I earn including that of my business.
I love to acknowledge the wealth coming into my life, because it makes me feel grateful for what I have and helps me to appreciate and look after my money. The income tracker also features in my budgeting planner.
Monthly Money Tasks
Every month, I track my credit score, which I’ve been doing for about 4 years. While I’ve historically logged it on my phone, I now also make a note of it in my planner each month, too. It’s really encouraging to see my credit score going from “awful”, to “excellent”. That’s the beauty of tracking these things, to see how far you’ve come. It’s really, really motivating.
The next thing I track is my net worth. This is made up of my debts and my assets –I’ll be talking a little bit more about these in a future podcast. Essentially, your net worth is your assets minus your liabilities, which will help you determine how well your money is doing overall at any moment in time. There is also a net worth section in my planner, including a graph to track and see how it’s growing.
I recently became consumer debt-free, which was amazing! It was such a great feeling to get to that point. This really boosted my net worth, and the historical tracking data really demonstrates how well my finances are improving over time.
The next thing I do is I plan my budget for the month ahead. I always review my spending, and this is where tracking your daily spending is really helpful.
Each month, I look at my spending to see if I’ve been realistic with my budget in the previous month. For example, was there enough to cover all the bills? Did I put enough money aside for discretionary spending, and did I manage to save any money to help build my sinking funds? If I haven’t (perhaps I’ve overspent in certain areas), then for next month I’ll tweak it to realistically reflect my spending.
By tracking these things, I’m able to see where my budget perhaps isn’t necessarily accurate and can make any changes. Really, your budget should be fluid; it’s not a rigid, fixed situation.
I have mentioned that I’m now consumer debt free, but I do still use my credit card, and then pay it off in full every month.
When I set my budget for the month ahead, I check my credit card balance and make sure I’ve factored the bill into my budget for the following month. If I want to purchase something big, it cannot go on the credit card. Basically, if I can’t afford to pay for it in one lump sum, I’m certainly not going back to being in debt again! So, I have a set limit each month to ensure I can afford the repayments.
Annual Money Tasks
Check Utility Bills
Generally, once a year (occasionally every 6 months), I check that I’m still getting a good deal on my bills. This includes my mobile phone, our electricity, gas, water and any other utilities. I make sure that we’re on competitive tariffs and if necessary, make any changes.
As mentioned above, this can take a few additional hours due to the admin involved in finding the best deals. But by making a phone call you could get a great discount on a service plan, particularly if you’ve threatened to leave and change to a competitor.
Investment Portfolio and Pension
Next, I review my investment portfolio and make any required changes, based on what my allocations are, and what I want it to be. Then I will request an up-to-date pension statement as well, which you can only really get on a yearly basis.
Thirdly, I plan my savings goals, to make sure everything’s on track. So, how much do I want for holidays, upcoming birthdays, maternity fund, wedding fund, etc. While I still had debts, I also made sure I was on track to pay them off.
So, if you want to be debt free by a certain time, are you still on track for that? Could you increase your contributions?
These actions that I take on a weekly, monthly and 6-monthly/yearly basis are a great framework to follow to keep everything in order. Once you get into the habit of it and have all of the information you need, it gets easier. I promise you.
I want to share something with you that will help you with everything I’ve spoken about in this post today – my healthy money planner!
I first launched the Healthy Money Planner™ in 2020, and I am over the moon with how it’s going and how it’s changing lives – not only through money management, but through planting trees too! For the price of 1 coffee every month for 12 months, everyone can afford to try this out and see how it can change their life too. You’re 10 times more likely to achieve a goal if you have a plan, and a further 3x more likely to achieve your goal if you have it written down. You can buy planners for cleaning and planners for Christmas – so why not your money too?
If you’re interested in looking inside the planner, check out the “flip book” on this page. Using the planner is a great step in getting organised with your finances.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know – what is the biggest take away you have from today?
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