Financial expert Lorraine Donegan offers her simple tips to getting your finances in order this year
Q I’m really hoping to get my finances in order in 2019, but have no idea where to start. Any simple tips? Should I seek the advice of a financial advisor? What should I look for, and avoid?
Firstly, let me just say, well done you!
After a finance-draining December, it’s fantastic that you are not only willing to sort out your finances, you are actually motivated enough to do something about them in 2019.
So where should you start?
Well, let’s start by being practical. The first thing you need to do is understand where your money goes, so set aside an evening during the gloomy January nights to review your bank statements and spend from 2018.
If you’re comfortable with Excel, start a spreadsheet that lists your monthly income and outgoings, then populate the spreadsheet with details from your statements.
If you want to keep things simple, grab a set of highlighters and colour code your statements, eg orange for household expenses (bills, food, mortgage or rent), green for personal expenses (clothes, hair, social activity, mobile), blue for car expenses, etc. Either one of these options will quickly give you an idea of where all your money goes.
Once you have an idea of where all your money went in 2018, it’s time to ask yourself a few key questions and then commit to taking action in 2019. For example, in 2018:
- Did you earn more money than you spent?
- Did you regularly add money to at least two of the FUNDamental four (emergency, savings, retirement and education/experience funds)?
- Did you stick to a budget of any sort (ie for clothing, socialising, food)?
If your answer to the questions above is yes, then you’re on the right track. If you answered no, then let’s get cracking! Return to this blog every month for tips, tricks and advice on all things money; from getting your savings on track to council on pensions, dealing with debt and ideas on how to be financially protected through life’s curve balls such as sickness, redundancy, job loss or divorce.
And don’t forget, if you really want to take control of your finances, then think seriously about making an appointment with a financial advisor. It’s an advisor’s job to help you make the most of your money, so stop procrastinating! Make an appointment (the first one should always be free) and suss them out.
Ask yourself these five questions and take it from there.
- Do they have the credentials and experience to handle my hard-earned cash and savings?
- Do I understand how they’ll get paid if I decide to work with them?
- Am I prepared to fully disclose my financial details to them?
- What are the goals I want them to help me accomplish?
- And most importantly, do I like and trust them?
Until next month,
Lorraine Donegan, aka the Money Muse, is the managing director of Donegan Financial Services, which is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Lorraine will be writing regularly for IMAGE.ie in 2019, so if you’d like to ask any specific questions about any finance-related topic, send an email to [email protected] or [email protected].