I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay, Ain’t it sad, And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me…
Money, Money, Money – Lyrics – ABBA
We are picking up from where we left off last week. I hope the time you spent reflecting on the past, present and future was insightful. Last week, I shared on my instastories that one thing that my husband and I are focusing on is our retirement. This is a big deal for us, because our parents didn’t prepare well for it and we see the effects of that today. Now of course, there are no guarantees in life, however, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do our best to put things in place so that we are able to look after ourselves sufficiently in the future.
This week, we would like to focus on facts and figures. I’m afraid this is not fun but it is absolutely necessary. We are going to go through our finances and categorize them as follows:
- Income – Start by listing your income sources and corresponding figures – both gross (before taxes) and net (after taxes).
- Bills and expenses – List all your expenses – start with whatever is taken out of your gross income (taxes, NI…), followed by all your fixed expenses ( I like to start with the ones that don’t fluctuate and must be paid e.g. rent/mortgage, council tax, then others such as food, transport…), and finally other bills and expenses (e.g. entertainment, hobbies…).
- Savings and Investments – Make a note of all of the money you put aside for your savings, investments and pensions.
- Loans and other debts – Who do you owe money (loans, credit and store cards, friends and family…)? How much is that costing you on a monthly basis?
Take some time to reflect on the figures above.
Now, look at your bank statements over the last 3 months. How does that match up to the figures above? Many people hardly ever look through their bank statements. However, it is a crucial part of understanding your finances. Statements would usually cover bills that are paid on a quarterly basis – and for me, it gives a true indication on how I spend my money because I hardly ever use cash for purchases. Also, I have sometimes found errors in my statement e.g. double charges etc or recurring direct debits for services I no longer use. I once found that I had been paying for council tax in a borough and house that I was no longer living in.
Take some time to reflect on these figures. What do they mean to you? Is there a pattern emerging? Are you spending more than you should? What do your savings look like? How about your income? Are you paying for things that you really don’t use (gym and health club memberships are a big one!)? Are you always going into your overdraft? How much are you spending on your credit cards? Are you paying them off? How many store cards do you have? What is the APR% on these and other loans/credit cards?
Now, look back at the three things you said you thought you needed to work on vis a vis your financial goals. Do you need to rearrange your priority list? What do you need to do, to make your financial goals a reality?
Also keep an eye out on my instastories where I’ll share what has come out of this exercise for us.
Thank you for taking your time to do this with us.
See you next week
Ps – If you are struggling with debt, please seek help. There is a way out. Start by clicking on this link. The information here is useful and will point you in the right direction.