Seven Tips to Help You Make 2013 the Year You Take Full Control of Your Money

By on January 2, 2013
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By Jeannette Lichner –

So where have you ended up financially at the end of 2012? Where you hoped? In a bit of debt?  In lots of debt? Feeling good or not so good about your finances?

The most frequent money concern and priority for 2013 people share with me is: “I want to make ends meet; survive economically; worry less about my money situation.”   Everyone is clearly feeling vulnerable and with the overall economic situation it is not surprising.  So what can you do? Whateer your financial situation today, you can be in control of your money starting NOW.

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Here are seven tips to put you IN CHARGE of your money.

  1. Do a money in and out self- assessment – Create a clear, honest, fact-based summary of what went on during 2012 and where you are now.  Start with writing down what money came in and went out during 2012. What were you total earnings, and what did you have left after taxes, social security, etc.  What did you spend your money on? If you don’t have good records try your best to figure it out, or most of it out, starting with the big items using your bank statement and credit cards as the basis. How much did you save – and where did you put it.

Document your current financial position and focus on the debts – List your assets and their values (e.g. property, bank accounts, pensions) and your debts (credit cards, storecards, mortgage, money owed to others), making sure you list everything. Now consider the interest rates on the debts. Prioritise the paying off the amounts with the highest rates first. Consider moving the debt to a new card that attracts a low interest rate at transfer and then figure out how to pay it off.

Doing these two will mean you know where you are at any time and can help you  figure out where want to go, or adjust where you are heading.  Top tips for moving forward:

  1. Keep Detailed Records and Review the Results – Use the money tools on or a similar website to help you capture and analyse your money movements. Knowing what is happening with your money, and thinking every time you decide to spend money is the best way to control your money in small and big ways! Set yourself targets for each money in and out category, and savings if you can.
  2. Spend Less Money – The spend side of money is the easiest to control. If you need to, be really draconian – spend the very minimum you need to. This means NO luxury items – so store brand food, shampoo, cooking in, only essential clothing etc.  People find it easier to be really tough than to do this by half measures. If credit cards are your downfall, stop using them. Give yourself the cash you need for the week and use only that to pay for things. Everytime you think of spending, think to yourself “Do I really NEED this?”
  3. Find Ways to Make More Money – This may sound impossible but it isn’t. Do you own things you can do without? Kids toys, clothes, etc? How can you put your skills to work for you? Work in a local store? Offer proofreading, gardening, clothes fixing services? Consider advertising locally, on Craigslist, or similar places. Be courageous about offering services even if you haven’t worked for awhile.  Just getting out and meeting people may open a whole new range of possibilities for you.
  4. Start Small and Think Big When Saving – If you can, start saving now. Putting money in a jar that you can watch grow, or putting a set amount from your pay are good places to start.  If you are able to, set a monthly saving target and find ways to meet it. If you can’t do it yet, pick a date when you intend to be able to.
  5. Set an Example for Your Children and Grandchildren – This is about your lasting legacy. Young people follow the example of the adults around them.  Be open with family about money, including money concerns you may have so they learn from you.   Talk about the choices you have made about earning, spending and saving money; talk about what you are happy and unhappy about regarding those choices.  Encourage them to track their money movements and do annual reviews of their financial situation, including target setting. Those are great habits to start early in life.

As I write this I am thinking about how challenging these may sound. You may be thinking for example “I am in such a muddle I can’t sort this out.”  Let me tell you, I have met people in all sorts of situations and there is NO reason you cannot control your money. Just jump in and start – you will love the feeling of figuring out being on top of this part of your life! Trust me – and more importantly, have confidence and trust in yourself!

Jeannette Lichner has over twenty five years experience in financial services, across a variety of roles in Finance, Operations, Investment Banking, HR and COO Roles with leading firms such as Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Promontory Financial Group.
Having built a rock-solid reputation in the City, Jeannette is now focused on helping young people understand their personal finances through her recently published book: #yourmoney – Everything You Need to Know About Earning, Spending and Saving Money


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Seven Tips to Help You Make 2013 the Year You Take Full Control of Your Money