While some financial pressures are out of your control, using a finance planner can help you gain more clarity around the things you do have power over. Noting things down can give you a better understanding of exactly where you’re spending and where you could potentially save.
Our finance planner has pages for you to plan and record your financial choices, with helpful tools to track and evaluate as you go. There are articles from financial expert Kalpana Fitzpatrick that can help you shift your mindset and teach you more about money. Thinking about your finances can be stressful, but using pen and paper is one way to help you prioritise your financial wellbeing.
We’ve gathered some tips to help you make the most of your finance planner and take time to invest in yourself.
1. Think about your current money mindset
Before making any changes, it’s important to understand where you’re at. So many things can shape our attitude to money – past experiences, family attitudes, our jobs or living situations. Take time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings about finances. Either journal about it, or chat it through with someone you trust. If you’re worried about debt, you can talk to a charity such as Step Change (stepchange.org) that can help come up with a repayment plan or help you get some breathing space. If you can’t keep up with minimum repayments on other bills, then a debt adviser can also help. It will put your mind at ease to seek help as soon as possible.
2. Try to shift unhelpful thought patterns
It’s very common to feel stressed when it comes to finances. Where possible, try and think of any unhelpful beliefs about money you may be able to shift or ease. Perhaps you didn’t take maths in school, so you think you’re bad with numbers. Remind yourself that anyone can learn. Perhaps you’re used to treating yourself to a takeaway after a stressful day. Remember that you can also cook comfort food that is more financially friendly, but just as soothing. It’s okay if things feel difficult, but even minor mind shifts can help.
3. Gather your financial information
One thing that can contribute to more stress is not knowing exactly where you stand. Once you’ve looked at your mindset, you need more information about the realities of your finances. Gather together your bank statements, payslips, rental agreements, bills or any other bits of financial administration. Note everything down to help you feel more organised and understand how much money you’re spending or saving.
4. Reflect on last year’s spending
Your budget planner has a section to help you evaluate your last year’s spend. From automatic subscriptions to your biggest purchase, looking at your whole year will help you assess your spending habits. When journaling, try to understand not just the what, but the why. Perhaps one month was expensive because it has a lot of family birthdays, or in winter you subscribed to one too many streaming services. Understanding the meaning behind your habits can help you make necessary adjustments.
5. Start setting financial goals
Once you understand your mindset and current financial situation, start setting some financial goals. From saving for a special purchase like a holiday or gift, to more simple goals such as avoiding impulse purchases, everyone’s goals will be different. Break down the goals into smaller, more achievable steps that you can tick off, and remember that these to-dos should work for you, your lifestyle and your budget.
6. Create a monthly budget
With your goals in mind, it’s time to create a budget. No two budgets are the same – you just need to think about your expenses, what you can reasonably afford and what your priorities are. Remember that it’s great to stick to it as best you can, but sometimes life happens and your budget can get thrown off course. By writing everything down, you should become more aware of your spending habits and more prepared to deal with anything that does come up unexpectedly.
7. Keep track and reflect
Your finance planner is designed to become a regular part of your routine, encouraging you to keep track of money as the months go by. Use the check-in points to review how much you’re spending in different categories, and how on-track you are with your goals. Try and avoid making any harsh judgements about yourself – the planner is designed to make you more aware of your habits and make changes where possible. Appreciate small wins, and don’t feel bad if progress takes a little longer than you thought it would.
8. Be kind to yourself
Remember that managing money can be stressful, especially if it’s not something you’re used to. Life can shift quickly, and some financial impacts will be out of your control. Try to use your planner as a helpful paper tool that will give you a sense of clarity and a little bit of calm.
Want to start working on your financial wellbeing? Our finance and budget planners have detailed tools and resources to help you feel more comfortable with your money. If you’re worried about your finances, you can talk to a charity such as Step Change (stepchange.org).