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21/01/2021

Getting financially fit in 2021 – Step 4: Financial planning

Conquering debt in 2021 will not happen overnight, it will be a gradual process with plenty of hurdles and learning curves. Once you have mastered the art of financial planning, it will not just be this year that you conquer your debt problems, you should never fall into debt again. Now that you’ve assessed your debts, began budgeting and switched providers it’s time to figure out how to master financial planning.

So, what is financial planning? Simply put, it’s budgeting but over a longer period of time, for example, a year. It’s identifying when you have to pay for a specific additional expense at a certain time of the year and ensuring that you have budgeted sufficiently during that month – or the months leading up to it.

To help you do this, we’d recommend buying a calendar and marking each month where you expect specific expenses to arise allowing you to digest these additional costs more easily. When is your car’s MOT? What about birthdays and special occasions? The festive period? They’re the same time every year; mark it on your calendar to visually prepare you for them, then think of cutbacks you can make during that month – or seasonally – so that you can afford these additional costs without applying for another credit card.

We all have several New Year’s Resolutions in mind, but by the end of January, we’re back to our old ways because we’ve tried to change too much over a short period of time. It’s much easier to adjust your spending habits one-by-one so it’s not a shock to the system!

Check out our seasonal tips for saving money throughout the year:

WINTER

Quick to turn your heating on? Try putting on an extra layer or wrapping up in a blanket on the cold, winter nights
Are you eligible for any for any government schemes at this time of year? Check whether you can benefit from free insulation or a warmer heating voucher
Buying gifts online? Use cashback sites such as Quidco & Top Cashback
Winter is usually the time for pricey, ticketed events, but you could save money by arranging a close-knit gathering. BYOB & all bring a dish to save you from cooking
Do you have Netflix or Amazon Prime? Cancel your trip to the cinema and have a home movie night instead!

SPRING

Have a Spring clear-out – can you do a car-boot sale to get rid of any unwanted gifts from Christmas? Use this extra money to pay a lump sum towards your debts or put it into an emergency savings pot
Did you upgrade your media package for the festive period? Can you reduce it now? Get rid of those movie and sport channels that you don’t need
Shed some of the winter weight. Kickstart a healthy diet by meal-prepping which could reduce your overall grocery shopping costs
Make the most of the new quarter! Can you negotiate a pay rise at work?
Side-hustle? Can you start offering dog-walking/lawn-cutting services to friends and family who might not have the time?

SUMMER

Staycations and holidays abroad are now just as expensive as each other! Take advantage of the UK summer and take daytrips to free local parks and beaches
When drying your laundry, stop using tumble dryers or radiators: not only will this result in lower energy bills, but it will reduce your CO2 emissions, too
BBQs on a budget – rather than going for an expensive meal, have people over for a BBQ; they could also chip in with money for food and drinks
Entertain your kids whilst schools are out. Look for free outdoor festivals and activities, indulge in baking, get them into gardening and grow your own veg
Cancel your gym membership and harness the great outdoors

AUTUMN

Start planning for Christmas and pick-up non-perishable shopping before the prices become inflated
Switch to LED lights – with the nights getting darker, you’ll be spending more time in-doors, save money by switching to LED lights
Have another clear-out! Christmas is approaching so go through your attic, basement, or under-the-stairs cupboard, and sell any unused items on eBay or Gumtree. You can then donate the items that you can’t sell to charitable organisations
Bleed your radiators – Make sure to bleed your radiators to make them more efficient throughout the colder months

Feel like you’re ready to take the next step? Look out for our next article: Debt clearing methods vs Debt solutions!

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