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5 ways to take control of your finances in 2014

If getting in top of your finances is top of your New Year’s resolution list, check out our handy tips and tools.

If getting in top of your finances is top of your New Year's resolution list, check out our handy tips and tools below.

        1. Set a budget
          Check out our Financial Planning Savings tool to tally up the potential savings you could make by cutting back on a few simple expenses.
          Take a list when you go to the supermarket, don't buy on impulse and use the internet to compare prices when buying big ticket items. Separate needs from wants. Take-away, a daily coffee and your gym membership can quickly add up.
        2. Find out where your money's going
          Knowing what you're spending your money on can be half the battle in determining where you can cut back. A handy new mobile app is Pocketbook, which analyses your spending and creates a budget tailored to your financial situation. The app will sort all of your expenditures into categories such as ATM fees, food, entertainment, and more. You can clearly see which areas are impacting your budget the most, so you can cut out unnecessary expenses in response.
          If you prefer to keep things old school, you can achieve the same result (but with more legwork!) by writing down everything you spend over a couple of months. Be honest about your expenditure and what things cost. Check your bank records and regularly review your strategy to make sure you're meeting your financial goals.
        3. Cut back on debt
          Avoid costly credit card debt by paying your balance in full each month. If you're unable to do this, at least pay the minimum plus any more than you can afford.
        4. Shop around for financial products
          Before selecting any type of financial product – whether it's a credit card, car loan or home loan – compare the costs and the terms and conditions before you commit. If you'd like to get serious about managing your money, it could be worth a trip to a financial adviser to get a solid plan in place that will last you for years to come.
        5. Put your money to work
          Don't just save money, make it work hard in a high interest savings account. Set up an automatic payment to your savings account to ensure your money is saved before you're tempted to spend it. Add any windfalls - your tax refund, work-related bonuses or financial gifts - to your savings pool.

Like any New Year's Resolution, committing to sorting out your finances will take willpower and the determination to keep up your regime beyond January. But stay motivated and you might just make 2014 a rewarding one!

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