The start of the year is the perfect time to check on the ‘health’ of your financial situation. Not only does a review make it easier for you to assess your position, but also the process will assist in the setting of financial goals for 2023: helping you form and maintain good habits, formulate a strategic and well-considered financial plan, and more. We’d recommend that you perform a financial health check once every three to six months – and there’s no time like the present!
Read on for our top tips on how to get started…
Performing a Financial Health Check: Track Spend
Reviewing spending habits, and dividing these into essential items (‘needs’, like utility bills) and desirable items (‘wants’, like a new pair of shoes), is a crucial part of a financial health check. You’ll be surprised at where your money goes – and what you might be splashing the cash on without noticing! Go through your statements with a highlighter and use different colours to identify spend. For example: do you regularly buy a sandwich from a shop when at work? Do you buy bottles of water when out and about? Are there changes you can make – however small – to cut costs a little, if needed?
Remember that you don’t need to make permanent changes, either! If your morning takeaway coffee is a real source of pleasure, why not skip this for a week a month and allow yourself to indulge the rest of the time? Making small adjustments and saving a little extra each month could help you reach your 2023 financial goals, so it’s worth considering.
Performing a Financial Health Check: Review Your Cash Flow Position
A healthy cash flow is essential for financial resilience – not least because this will allow you to put some money in savings for a rainy day (or an emergency). If you are still working towards a rainy day fund and an unexpected expense crops up (your boiler breaks) you could consider taking out a personal loan or utilising a 0% interest-rate credit card for a short-term cash-flow boost. This can help you stay on top of things in the short-term and spread payments out in a manageable way.
Performing a Financial Health Check: Look at Suppliers
Now that you’ve been through your bank statements with a fine-tooth comb, it’s time to think about part of the ‘essential’ spend category. Are there better options available to you at this time? Are you paying over the odds for your mobile phone (perhaps for data you don’t want or need) or for household insurance? Shopping around rather than staying put can make a big difference to your annual outgoings (and, if you’re looking for a new insurance provider, our expert team are committed to finding the best policies for the best price – so do have a chat with Cherry Godfrey!).
Performing a Financial Health Check: Manage Debt
One of the most common forms of financial stress concerns debt: be that credit card debt, or loans that you’ve taken out with different suppliers. Thinking strategically about how to pay off debt is a crucial financial health check stage. Coming up with a well-thought-out plan can have a huge impact on your wellbeing, whilst – at the same time - improving your chances of reaching financial goals in the year ahead.
Due to the many credit options that are available (from store cards to overdrafts), it’s easy to build up a range of debts with different suppliers. Confusion abounds! Remembering what is owed, to whom, can be both worrying and troublesome – there’s so much to keep track of, and setting priorities is not straightforward. With this in mind, one of our top tips for reducing or managing debt is to consider Debt Consolidation.
By rolling all your debts into one, Debt Consolidation will help you manage the process by reducing (or simplifying) the amount of interest you pay; reducing the number of monthly payments; and limiting the number of institutions to whom you owe money. It’s a powerful simplification tool – and, with the right provider, could end up saving you money (as you might find a more attractive deal).
Performing a Financial Health Check: Think About Estate Planning and Life Insurance
Carrying out a financial health check isn’t only about the here and now: it’s important to consider the future, too.
Whatever the next year has in store, it’s worthwhile taking some time to make sure your affairs are in order. Do you have a Will? If you do, is it up to date, or does it require some adjustment? What about Life Insurance? The right policy not only brings peace of mind, but also will provide financial security for you and your family: helping to safeguard their future in a manageable and affordable way.