1. Don't assume that your earnings will keep the same or grow
I was a freelancer for 16 years and this was a painful but important lesson...and once I'd learned it, it turned me in to a better planner.
2. If you are freelance, put money that's not yours (tax) AWAY FROM TEMPTATION
Getting paid before tax is deducted is like thinking you've got a giant birthday present only to find a much smaller one inside when you get round to opening it. And when you're freelance you pay on earnings from a year (or more) ago, but you also pay up front for the coming year based on those figures. It was really tricky to unpick all this at the start of freelancing and so tempting to think I was a lot richer than I was. Putting away a third of whatever I got paid into an account marked TAX was the best way to give myself a reality check. I might have dipped into this every now and then but planning this way meant (after a few rollercoaster years) I was always ahead of the game.
3. Go from ostrich to owl
I'm not sure any of those click-bait personality tests feature 'Optimistic Ostrich' as a profile, but I think that's what I am naturally when it comes to money: a tendency not to look up and see the big picture and to be a bit too optimistic about what's around the corner. Which means I used to let money manage me a bit. I didn't look at statements or bills and never dreamt of analysing what I was spending over a month or a year in a category. None of this made for a very healthy relationship with my income or spending. I never felt in control of it. Only when my 'Mr Spreadsheet' brother sat me down and explained how he planned his money did it occur to me that my life would be a lot more relaxed if I switched from passively 'experiencing' my budget, like it was just happening to me, to actively managing it. And it really wasn't hard.
1. You are never too young to prepare and put money away.
2. Do calculations for the bigger picture. £100 a month put away might not seem alot but in 12 months that is £1200 and you can go on that holiday or treat yourself without having to max out a credit card or get borrowing with interest added.
3. You work hard for your money-isn't even more rewarding when you know what you have spent it on? Stay in control of what you earn.
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