The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time. And that might well be the best way to tackle 2008. This year is almost over and while it’s a time of festivities, a look back may be a good idea if you’re thinking of some forward financial planning for 2008’s bills.
But you don’t need to resort to blaming yourself for what you could have saved if you had handled your expenditure more wisely. Crying over spilled milk isn’t only a negative way to start a new year, but also it gives you no recourse to whatever has been spent, lent or accumulated on your credit card bills.
A better way is to assess the damage or where you stand on your finances, and think of how to move forward. Even if you’re dragging a heavy load from 2007, just be clear about how much and to whom.
But keeping a positive attitude doesn’t mean that you should sit back and relax. Remember like everyone else, your bills are meant to increase in 2008 because of inflation, rent increases, your own growing needs, etc. So try to have a rough assessment of such increases and possible extra income as well. Then grab a notepad and a pencil to draft a budget for at least six months.
When you set your liabilities, income and estimated expenses side by side you should be able to see on paper where and how you’ll settle the 2007 debts, pay your new bills and be able to put aside some savings. If you cannot detect such a point in the coming six months, now you need to be alarmed. So what may have gone wrong?
There are many factors: you may be setting unrealistic goals for savings or some big bills are knocking you out of balance. Another cause can be that your 2007 debts will continue to hinder your recovery. In such a case, you’ll need to find a way to get out of the vicious circle of debt and interest before things get out of control. See if a do-it-yourself approach can help by going back to your budget and trying to tighten it further. If this fails, consider some debt consolidation options.
Either way you need to take your debts seriously and make sure that your getting them down on schedule. Watch out for your points of weakness, be it spending on dining out, impulsive shopping or holidays, try to set the brakes on your whims to avoid adding on more debts.
Budgeting for occasional splurges may help limit your spending without leaving you feeling deprived.
Finally, have your budget displayed in a visible location: on the wall or the start-up screen of your computer. After all, we’re all familiar with the enthusiasm of new starts, which usually fades unless kept alive with persistence.
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