These four actions can help you achieve better finances and bring you closer to your goals
If you’re starting 2022 with a wish to create a brighter financial future, then take heart. There’s no denying that the last couple of years have been a challenge – many of us have experienced changes in circumstances that have impacted our finances, and all of us are now feeling the effects of rising living costs. But in spite of these challenges, there’s hope. Whatever your situation, there are almost always actions you can take to improve your finances so you can feel more positive and in control of your future.
Chances are you’re already managing your money in positive ways – perhaps by having a budget in place and being part of a payroll savings scheme. New research from the Money and Pensions Service shows that payroll savers are 18% more likely to save every month than those who aren’t part of such schemes, so if you’ve got this set up you’re on to a great thing. However, when it comes to getting the most from your money, there may be other options open to you which you haven’t yet considered.
With this in mind, here are four actions you can take to level up your finances. Use them to build on the good money habits you’ve already got in place and you might just get closer to achieving your goals for the future.
Action one: Train your brain for success
Preparing your finances for the future takes motivation and focus. The more clarity, drive and self confidence you have, the more likely you are to pay into your savings, reach your financial goals and create the future you’d love. Did you know that there’s actually a way of training your brain to develop these qualities? It’s a technique psychologists and coaches have used for years: visualisation.
Visualising the future you’re aiming for is like stepping inside a mental simulator, making your desired outcomes a real possibility in your mind. It also stimulates your brain’s natural problem-solving process, helping you generate solutions to any challenges that stand in your way.
To get started with visualisation, first write down your vision of your ideal future in as much detail as you can. This could include something you’d love to save for by the end of the year, a vision for the longer term, or both. Describe both the final outcome and the steps you need to take to get there.
To make your vision real to your brain, it’s important to imagine it with all your senses, as if you were experiencing its sights, sounds and even tastes and smells. Be sure to write down the emotions you’ll be feeling too.
Once you’ve written out your vision, practice seeing it in your mind’s eye. You might even like to make an audio recording of it, so you can listen to it as you picture it. Try doing this at a set time each day for a month – those few minutes a day could make a big difference to the progress you make with your savings goals.
For more pointers on using visualisation, check out this Forbes article.
Action two: Upgrade your budget
If you’re already working with a budget, take a moment to congratulate yourself. A budget is one of the most important tools you can use to take control of your finances. But is yours working as well for you as it possibly could?
Life circumstances change, so it’s essential to check in with your budget regularly and make tweaks as needed. January is an ideal time for a budget review, and given the big, Covid-related shifts that many of us experienced in 2021, it’s now more of a priority than ever.
Money Helper offers a free online Budget Planner you can use to take your existing budget to the next level. Not only does it walk you through the whole budgeting process, it’s extremely thorough. Using it will help you consider your income and outgoings in depth to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered.
Action three: Consider debt consolidation
Are you paying back loans or other debts in the best way? Sometimes it’s possible to clear your debts quicker and save money on your borrowing with a consolidation loan.
This is simply a single loan you take out to pay off your other debts, so you end up with only one repayment to think about. Consolidation simplifies your finances and gives you a clearer timeline for repaying your debt, which can help you feel more in control of your money.
When you’re looking to consolidate, the first thing to check is whether your new loan will cut the costs of your current debt. For this you need to work out the overall amount you’d repay if you stuck to your current borrowing, and what you’d pay in total for the new loan. This debt consolidation article from Money Saving Expert will help you understand whether consolidating is the right option for you, and if so, exactly how to do it.
Did you know that Credit Union loans can sometimes beat the interest rates you’ll find on the high street? Great Western Credit Union’s personal loans are specifically designed to improve your financial wellbeing too, with fair interest rates, flexible repayment dates and no early repayment fees. If your employer is signed up to our Money@Work scheme, you could even qualify for a discounted loan. So don’t forget to check out our personal loans as a consolidation option.
Action four: Boost your savings
Once you’ve got a regular savings habit in place, your task is to find ways of giving your savings a boost. It’s worth increasing your regular savings payments – even by small amounts. These add up over time, and there are many places the extra cash could come from.
A great place to start freeing up extra money for your savings is in your supermarket shop. We love Money Saving Expert’s ‘downshift challenge’, where you shift to products that are seen as less premium or luxurious, and cost less, but in reality are no different to what you normally buy. This technique could save you £100s each year – money which you could redirect into your savings.
If you’re ready to get really serious about saving, take a day out of your life to do Money Saving Expert’s Money Makeover. You’ll need to do some detailed research and bill-checking, but making the effort could save you £1000s each year.
We’re here to help
By taking these four actions, you should be well on the road to enjoying better finances in 2022 – and beyond.
Keep in mind that your credit union is 100% committed to improving your financial wellbeing, and our loans and saving products are designed with this in mind. When you bank with us, you can also feel good knowing that you’re helping other local people achieve better finances too.
Work for one of our Money@Work partners? You could qualify for a discounted loan. Find out more.