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Succeed Financially in 2011

Getting financially ahead of the game can be an incredibly difficult task; however, planning early and getting in the right frame of mind will point you in the right direction. Succeeding at life and succeeding financially really go hand in hand, and the same principles apply. It’s about being motivated, focused and having a clear plan of action.

First things first – Set your financial objectives

To succeed financially in 2011, you need to have a clear direction in your mind of where you want to be. To do this I would start by setting myself some financial aims and objectives. They way I like to think about it is your aims should be more minor points and your objective should be your main end point. For example, your first aim for month 1 could be to be to find a cheaper car insurance policy, and your overall objective for 2012 could be to wipe out £5000 worth of debt. These are just examples; your objectives should be based on your own circumstances.

Remember to keep your financial objectives SMART.

Specific, so you know exactly what you want to achieve
Measurable, so that you can see how you are performing against your targets
Achievable, so you are sure your objectives can be achieved with the resources available to you
Realistic, so that you are sure the objective can definitely be achieved based on your circumstances, and
Timed, so that you try and achieve your objective in a specific time scale, otherwise it could go on forever!

Second – Set up your financial budget

Setting up a financial budget can be extremely difficult; however, when done correctly a budget can be the most effective financial tool. To start your budget, first look back at your financial objective for the year and then base your budget on this. For example, if your financial objective is to wipe £5000 worth of debt in 2011, then your budget should be tailored for you to meet your objective.

I would set your budget up using a spreadsheet on your computer, as it’s so easy to perform calculations, but there’s no reason why you can’t just use the good old pen, paper and calculator! Try and set up your budget on a yearly basis, so write down all of your expenses, this might take you a while, but make sure you are honest and thorough.

Once you have worked out your expenditure, its then time to analyse your income, once you have both figures you can then work out how much you can afford to spend each month of the year in order to achieve your objective. Try to stick to your budget to the best of your ability, of course there may be things that pop up across the year, but set a small amount of money aside each month into an emergency budget to cater for these surprises.

Third – Be as frugal as you can in 2011

Many people think that to save money you have to abandon your social life and live as a recluse, but this simply isn’t true. To save some money in 2011, just focus on cutting costs wherever you can on regular payments, this keeps your focus away from the whole “I wont spend a penny” mindset.

You should look to save money on things like your phone bill, car insurance, gas and electric, and use price comparison sites like Money Supermarket. Price comparison sites will do the searching for you when you are looking to save, whether the search is for a phone contract or your electric bill, it doesn’t matter as the result will be the same, a list of results from the main providers in order of cheapest first.

Fourth – Be as motivated and as positive as possible

Like many things in life, if you become disheartened and disinterested in something that you are trying to do, you’ll simply just give up, that’s why I don’t believe in the whole, don’t spend a penny mindset. You can still have fun whilst saving money. Keep a running chart of how much money you’ve saved, and note down the positive things that you’ve done, it will help to keep you on the right track.

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