Dealing with finances at the beginning of the year can be a daunting task. But with a few tweaks, your budget could get the refresher it needs to ensure you have a positive financial year.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Create a financial calendar and set dates to go through your financial records and receipts. Assess your holiday expenses and create a plan around cutting back and consider a payment plan for outstanding bills – don’t ignore them. For the rest of the year, keep a record of your expenses, receipts, bills and tax-related paperwork in a folder or scan them.
Audit your current insurance
Reviewing your premiums can save you some much-needed money. Needs change with time, so it’s always good to keep track of your insurance cover. Asking the following questions can help you decide if your insurance policy is still a good fit for you:
- Does your insurance reflect your lifestyle? Keep your insurer updated on any new developments, like getting married or divorced, or job changes. It could have an impact on your claims.
- Are you covered when you’re on the road? Anything can happen on the road, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Are the contents of your home covered? Having cover for your home doesn’t automatically include its contents, so make sure your valuables are covered too.
- Is your home covered? It’s in your best interests to have your home covered to protect against damage or loss in the event of a disaster.
- Are your policies joined? Having more than one policy or insuring more than one asset with one insurer puts you in line for some discounts on your premiums.
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, it’s time to look into updating your policy. Contact your insurer and have them talk you through your options. Be sure to ask about any special offers and features that can be included, like Budget’s Payment Holiday.
Review your current expenses
- Check your statements. We know it’s tedious, but it makes a difference. Do an inventory of all your accounts to see what you’re receiving and spending monthly.
- Group your expenses. That daily latte? It adds up. Tracking your expenses by grouping them helps you to see how much you’re really spending.
- Keep track. Budgeting apps allow you to record your purchases and expenses as you make them. There are several budgeting apps tailored for various needs to choose from. You can also use an excel spreadsheet.
Clear out and sell unwanted things
Get rid of the things that no longer serve your home to create financial breathing room.
- Identify unwanted items and create a list – taking pictures of the items makes this process easier.
- Place an ad online, for example on Facebook’s Marketplace, which is free and easy to navigate. All you need is a Facebook account and you’re ready to go. Yaga is another website where you can sell second-hand clothing.
- Advertise the items’ value and try not to overprice, and be willing to negotiate.
Spend less on school supplies.
- Do an inventory. Take stock of what you have and avoid duplicate purchases.
- Budget and plan. Draw up a list of the supplies needed. Sign up to get updated price lists from a school-supply website such as SchoolSuppliers.co.za. That way, you can stick to your budget.
- Start early. Don’t wait until the last minute; start now. Download apps like Takealot.com and get regular updates on specials and sales.
Develop a positive attitude towards learning how to save money and how you handle money, and hold yourself accountable. It’s not an overnight achievement, so be patient with yourself. What matters is taking the first step. Ready, set, budget!