There are some relatively straight forward steps you can take in order to start taking control of your personal finances.
Firstly it is important to keep track of your income and expenditure so that you can work out a monthly budget. You will then be aware if you struggle to meet all your bills and need to take further action. You will also know whether you can afford additional expenses. For example perhaps you are hoping to take out a new car loan, or to extend your mortgage for home improvements. Alternatively perhaps you are in a position to invest some money in a savings plan.
Organising your finances will seem an impossible task if you have piles of unopened statements and bills. Make time to clear the backlog then keep up to date with paperwork and pay bills on time. Do not ignore your bills as they will still be there next month and may incur additional charges due to late payment.
Credit cards should be viewed as a convenient method of payment rather than a loan. It is a good idea to restrict yourself to one or two credit cards. This will make it easier to see how much you are spending and reduce the amount of paperwork you have to deal with. If at all possible then clear your credit card bill each month.
Think ahead and be realistic when taking out a mortgage or personal loan finance. Consider whether you will be able to keep up the payments now and in the future, and do not overstretch yourself. Make sure you know how you will repay the debt at the end of the loan period. This is particularly important on any interest only arrangements.
It is a good idea to have a contingency fund in case you need money in a hurry. Advisers usually suggest you have three months salary set aside for unforeseen circumstances. You may also want to save funds for expected future spending, such as university fees or holidays.
It is never too early to contribute to some form of pension scheme. If you will be relying on the state pension in retirement, then you are likely to face a drop in your standard of living. Also think about how any dependents would manage in the event of your death, or if you could not work through ill health. Do you have adequate life insurance?
Free financial health checks are available on some websites. These can help sort out your priorities and offer practical advice.