The New Year is a chance to make resolutions to eat healthier food, exercise more often and manage money better. Just like diet and exercise, money is something that people feel often guilty about. Opening your credit card bill after Christmas and the New Year sales can certainly create the feeling that you have done something wrong or spent money you weren’t supposed to. However, while an initial rush of guilt can trigger desire to change money behaviours, New Year’s resolutions get forgotten about as life settles back to normal. There is an easy way to avoid feeling guilty about money and to keep on track with money goals.
At the beginning of every year, assess your financial position. Make a list of your assets (house, bank deposits, investments) and your liabilities (debts). Your net worth is the difference between your assets and your liabilities and ideally it should be increasing each year.
Now do a simple budget. Set up an automatic transfer each payday into a savings account for your financial goals, starting with a small, achievable amount. With what is left, work out how much you need to cover your financial commitments and your living costs. The remainder is your ‘fun money’ which you can happily spend on whatever you choose without feeling guilty. Keep it in a separate account.
Make a date with your money to keep yourself on track. Reviewing your finances should not just be an annual event. Diarise a review meeting at least four times a year to see how you are tracking against your budget and your goals. If you have a partner, do this together.
Save before you spend, give yourself permission to spend a budgeted amount of money on whatever you want and regularly review your budget to have a guilt-free year.