It’s the start of a new year welcoming another January filled with resolutions we set out to change but struggle to keep.
When I look back, I don’t think I have ever made a resolution that I have stuck to – it’s all change this year!
Travelling the globe, skydiving and learning to fly a plane are just some of the things I want to accomplish this year … LOL JOKE!!
This year’s resolution is slightly less adrenaline filled, you’ve guessed it, it’s keeping up with the savings (how very mature of me). When I read that sentence back I think “how incredibly dull” but then I think “It’s a bit of a snore fest but YOLO, in the long run it will be worth it”.
Since going into saving mode, I’ve surprised myself that I’ve stuck to my guns and haven’t slipped back into old habits. It may have four months or so, but I’ve had the “I better start saving” light bulb moment many times before and I always lose interest. So what’s different this time?
Just a few factors have helped me stick to my guns so far, but my main saviour has been a simple spreadsheet.
Numbers really aren’t my thing and never did I think that a spreadsheet would become what seems like a life partner, every Monday we meet to crunch numbers and keep track of my spending.
Digital banking has made our lives so much easier over the past couple of years creating instant access to our bank accounts. Being able to access our accounts at the press of a button allows us to keep on top of our balances, but this isn’t enough for me.
My brain is a creative brain not a practical one, so when it comes to my finances I can’t just look at my balance and calculate if I can afford impulsive night out and know how much it will impact the following month. Scribbling sums on the back of an envelope really doesn’t work for me – too many times I’ve miscalculated and set myself back. My spreadsheet allows me to see into my financial future.
Create yourself a finance tracker that shows your financials month after month taking you to the end of the year. Populate with your current bank balance, monthly salary along with expenditure and your spreadsheet will do the rest for you.
Read the nitty gritty of setting up your finance spreadsheet here.
My spreadsheet has been great for keeping me in check. It shows me how much money I have to spend each month and how much I can afford to put into my savings.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “A spreadsheet surely can’t sort out all your financial problems” and you’re right – it’s just one of a few helping hands. Goals, cheat days and being realistic will see you through.
Set a goal
When you have goal in mind, you are more likely to succeed – whether it be to save enough for a deposit for a house or buying a new car, make sure you have a clear idea of where you want to get to and that will keep you going.
To stick to your resolution, the important thing is to be realistic and take practical steps in meeting your goal. Make sure that your goal is achievable and give yourself enough time to get to where you want to be – there’s nothing worse than feeling pressured and scrambling to the finish line, that’s when mistakes happen.
I’m an optimistic, glass half full kind of guy but when it comes to money I become a realist. The ideal situation would be to put away £500 each month but when you take in salary, expenditure and all the little pot holes life chucks at you, it’s vital to look at your month ahead so you don’t work to a loss. The amount that you shift to your savings each month may change but keep on track and you’ll save yourself a lot of worry – we’re all guilty of overestimating, so be sure to not cut yourself too short.
Give yourself a cheat day
I follow the mantra of “Live happy, die happy”. Everyone has a sell by date and my time could be up tomorrow for all I know, so I still go on the odd night out or go out for lunch now and then.
You do need to be strict on yourself but just because you’re saving doesn’t mean you become a hermit, you just need to do everything in moderation and think “Do I really need this?”.
So, that’s what I’m doing to keep on track – let’s check back in a year from now and see how I keep it up …