Money magic

Financial success

Happy New Financial Year! And, as there is still snow on the ground for many of us and nothing but period dramas and sewing on the TV, it seems more like an actual New Year with every passing hour. So what does a new financial year mean? Well for Susan Hayes, author of The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Financial Freedom (Penguin, £12.99), it means time to get to grips with your finances once and for all.

Susan – who runs financial training company Hayes Culleton Ltd – is from Cork in Ireland, has a BSc in financial maths and economics from the National University of Ireland and has a sussed but positive attitude to economics. And when she rang me on my mobile from her hotel room in America yesterday to wish me a happy new financial year she was full of can-do New York savvy. My first thought was for her phone bill. “Don’t you worry about that – I’m using Skype,” she said. “It’s not costing me a penny.”

This girl practises what she preaches, and she is on a mission to help women (and men) to gain financial independence, whatever that might mean to them. “It means different things to different people,” she said, adding that for one person it might mean the freedom to take Wednesdays off, or to earn another £5,000 a year, while for another it might mean making half a million pounds.

So, as she looked out over the early morning New York skyline, and I wondered whether the daffs outside would survive the snow, she drew up four financial resolutions that she said should enable all of us to see in the next financial year in better shape than we entered this, triple dip or no triple dip.

  1. Work out what financial freedom means to you – ie what do you want to achieve. That means finding and defining a SMART goal – one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. So, for example, instead of saying, “This time next year I will be a millionaire,” (three out of five – it misses the realistic and attainable buttons, for most of us) try, “This time next year I will be debt free and saving £100 a month.”
  2. The B word – “budget”. You can’t maximise your income and minimise your outgoings without keeping tabs on them. But before you even start recording what you spend, try to predict it first – the reality check may be enough to shock you into action. It’s a great way of mentally sewing up the holes in your pockets and finding out where your money really does go
  3. Once you know what the problem is you are ready to address it. Contact anyone and everyone who can help you. That means all your financial connections – your bank and all the people who receive your money on a regular basis, insurance companies, utility companies – anyone who can advise you on how to reduce your outgoings.
  4. Finally think about how you can increase your income – no one likes cutting their spending – so do what you can to increase the money coming in. That might mean looking for a new job, negotiating a pay rise (she promises it can be done – even now), selling a skill, or going online to see whether you can use your brain or buying power to bring in some money. She recommends testing your wings with, which is a website to help you market a fledgling business and sell your skills online.

So, shake the unseasonably cold weather off your shoulders and head out for some financial first footing and let me know how you get on @AmandaAtCandis.

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