What keeps you awake at night? Family, work, health, relationships? According to a recent survey for National Conversation Week [link], more people worry about their finances than anything else. Money worries topped the list at 38 per cent, compared to family (15 per cent) and work (10 per cent).
When you add into the equation that 26 per cent of people want to change their spending habits this year – whether that’s spending more or less – then the topic of how to improve your financial situation in 2019 is clearly an important one to discuss.
So, what are the key areas to consider when addressing your finance? Here are our top conversation starters:
- Reduce the amount you spend – this may seem like an obvious thing to say, but if you want to change your financial circumstances then you need to spend some time scrutinising your outgoings, compared to your income. Start with setting out a budget and make sure you stick to it – don’t let it gather dust. Use it; update it; refer to it when making a decision. It might seem like a laborious task working out your expenses and calculating numbers, but the value of knowing what you spend, and actually what you can spend to hit your monthly and yearly targets, is invaluable. It’s also important not to commit yourself to any unnecessary spending and recurring monthly costs, and also to be a bit savvier on what you pay – shop around; don’t just take the first price you see.
- Increase the amount you save – if you’ve set out a budget that balances outgoings with income, then you should be able to identify any surplus left over each month. While there’s a strong temptation to spend that on something fun and exciting, the more sensible person in you will consider saving all, or part of that surplus. You could use the surplus to put towards a big-ticket purchase, rather than relying on credit, but you could also consider putting the extra money in a simple savings account, ISA, a pension, or investment scheme.
- Seek professional advice – while creating a simple budget doesn’t necessarily require an adviser’s input when it comes to investments, pensions, loans and bigger financial considerations, then your first port of call should always be a professional. Using comparison sites, forums and trusting the first advert that comes up on Google, may not be the most sensible option. Use an adviser’s knowledge of the market, their understanding of different products, and their experience in guiding people through complex financial issues, to support your decisions.
Whatever your circumstances, if you want to improve your financial situation in 2019, then make sure you take the first steps to planning and talking about money as soon as possible.