Most people find it incredibly boring and the thought of having to sort or do anything with it makes people want to scream, right?

The thing is that the most expensive time of year is coming up and having a budget can really help to make sure you don’t overspend and pay the price well into the New Year for going all out now.

If you’d like to start January with a clean slate and get to grips with your finances now and get your budget in shape than follow this 5-step process. It will not be a quick fix but you will feel so much better!

1. The first step to becoming more money savvy is to get your paperwork and filing system in place.

Open your post daily! Recycle the envelopes and any junk mail coming through your letter box. Everything with personal details needs to be shredded. Top tip: Don’t ignore reminders, but action them straight away as a matter of urgency. You only create more paperwork by not dealing with it!

Create a “to do/to action” pile of paperwork that needs, well, an action; a phone call, a form to fill in, a date to put on the diary, etc. Once the action is done decide if you need to keep the piece of paper or if you can recycle/shred it. • Create a “to file” pile. This is all the paperwork you want to keep. Remember that 90% of paperwork never gets looked at again so be ruthless.

2. The second step is to start dividing all your filing paperwork into different main categories

These could include: home, work, pension, health, pets, car, insurance, kids, bank, important documents, manuals, memberships, house purchase & renovations. Within these main categories create sub categories. For example, within home subdivide into: gas, water, electricity, cable, broadband, council tax/home insurance.

3. Thirdly, put all the paperwork in the sub category in date order, newest on top.

Decide for each category how long you want to keep things. You want to keep important paperwork like birth certificates your whole life, but a water bill you might want to keep only a few years. I’ve seen filing systems with hardly any paperwork since a lot is online these days and I’ve also seen filing cabinets go back 2 decades. It’s a personal choice and do what feels good to you. If your run your own business do check with your accountant and the HMRC how long you need to keep certain paperwork.

4. Now you’re ready to start working on your budget.

Decide in advance how far you want to go with this. If you only want an overview you can just make a list and write in the left column what your income is and in the right column what your expenses are. Your super decluttered filing system will make it easy to find out how much you pay each month in council tax for example. If you want a very detailed view of your money start with looking at your bank statements and account for all the money outgoing. You can use an excel sheet to write down when and how much you spend.
or use a budget planner from MoneySaving Expert Martin Lewis to help you. There are also lots of apps available to help you save more money. Top tip: pay as much as you can by card instead of cash. It is easier to see where your money is going.

5. The last step is to make sure you start saving!

Once you know how and when you spend your money you will see where you can save. Maybe that daily lunch from the shop can become a weekly treat hence saving you tons of cash. Start saving money automatically into a saving account as soon as it comes into your current account. Do a weekly shop instead of going to the shops every other day.

I’ve helped lots of clients over the years sort out their paperwork and giving them a better grip on their financial situation. It really helps to be organised with paperwork and you save money at the same time.  Win-win!

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