5 simple ideas to help you get your personal finances in shape in 2024

Category: Australia & News & United Kingdom

The Christmas and new year break is traditionally a time to spend with your family. 

You’ll not be working for at least some of the time, so it’s a great opportunity to over-indulge, watch Christmas films, and get in the festive spirit. 

But why not take some time out from turkey sandwiches and board games to get your finances straight? 

Here are five simple suggestions of steps you can take during a bit of quiet time over the festive season, so you’ll go into the new year with a level of confidence knowing your finances are in order.

1. Review your income and expenditure

If you don’t have a household financial budget, now’s the time to set one up. 

Although there are online apps designed for this purpose, a simple spreadsheet can do the job effectively for you, and you have the benefit of being able to bespoke it to suit your own needs and priorities.

A good starting point is to use a recent bank statement to list all your regular mandates and standing orders. To give you a good overview of where your money goes each month, you could list these under different headings, such as:

  • Insurance arrangements 
  • Your regular savings and investments
  • Utilities, such as gas, electricity, and broadband
  • Borrowing, including your mortgage and credit cards.

Once you’ve done that, you then need to get an idea of your discretionary spending. It’s likely that Christmas will have distorted this in December, but going back over a few months will give you an idea of your regular outgoings. 

Again, you could list this under different headings, including:

  • Food shopping
  • Other domestic purchases, such as clothes and household items
  • Entertainment and eating out.

Having all the information easily to hand will give you an instant view of your outgoings, and it’ll be a document you can regularly review and update to ensure you’re always in control of your spending. 

2. Update your pension and investment values

With your budget spreadsheet set up, a good next step is to get a clear understanding of your savings, such as your pension in the UK or super accounts in Australia, together with any other savings and investments you may have. 

Nearly all financial institutions enable you to access this information online, so it should be relatively easy to list out your current values, and check that you’re still happy with your investment profile.

You may also want to check whether you’re setting enough money aside each month. One idea is to use your budget spreadsheet to identify any mandates that could be cancelled – do you really still need that gym membership or all those TV channel subscriptions? You could then divert the money saved into investments and savings. 

3. Check your emergency fund

One of the most important allocations of savings is into your emergency fund. 

This is a fund designed to deal with unexpected events, such as a broken boiler or car repairs, without having to resort to potentially expensive unsecured debt. 

It can also help you keep your head above water in the event of any disruption to your or a loved one’s employment situation. 

So, a useful part of your seasonal financial housekeeping could be to check that you have adequate funds set aside for a rainy day.

A general rule of thumb for an emergency fund is saving three to six months’ worth of living expenses in an instant access account.

4. Make sure you have a plan to reduce your debts

If you feel you have too much debt, the start of a new year is an ideal time to review how much you owe, and how much it’s costing you each month, and to put a plan together to reduce it in the coming months.

Just doing this will give you some peace of mind, with the knowledge that you’re taking control of a potentially costly problem.

Even if you are already well-practised when it comes to managing your debt, it’s always worth looking for ways to reduce it further. For example, you may receive an end-of-year bonus that you could use to clear the debt on a credit card.

Reducing the number of loans you have can also help you keep debt under control and reduce any worries you may have. So, think about consolidating any remaining debt onto a potentially lower rate with a single loan. 

Finally, if you are on a fixed-rate mortgage that comes to an end in 2024, it’s never too soon to start planning ahead when it comes to finding a new deal. We would strongly recommend you speak to a mortgage professional about this. Not only can they provide you with good advice, but they may have access to deals that aren’t usually available directly to borrowers. 

5. Think of your 2024 intentions and plans

Take some to time to review your plans for 2024 and consider how they could affect your finances.

For example, if you’re planning a big holiday abroad, are you saving enough to pay for it, as well as other extras like spending money and car hire?

Then there are other big family events you might need to consider, such as the arrival of children or grandchildren, or a family wedding. 

If you have bigger financial plans than that, such as moving home or starting a new job, it’s always worth planning ahead, especially in terms of how this could affect your finances. 

In each case, having plans in place, and knowing what your key action points are can help keep you in control and better positioned to deal with any unforeseen problems.

Get in touch

If you’d like to talk about any aspect of your financial planning in the coming year, please get in touch with us. 

Please note

The value of your investment can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

This article is for information only. Please do not solely rely on anything you have read in this article and ensure that you conduct your own research to ensure any actions you may take are suitable for your circumstances. 

All contents are based on our understanding of ATO and HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.