For many people, the best time to review your finances and make changes is the beginning of the year. New Year’s resolutions are full of financial plans. But, really, when it comes to your financial stability, there is no time like the present to get yourself sorted out. Here we’ll go through some personal finance tips to help you get ahead financially.

1. Spend Less Than You Earn

This is a fundamental principle when it comes to being financially stable. It sounds simple, but many people struggle with this point. However, without it, you can’t move forward. Find work that utilizes your skills and pays you what you’re worth. Being underpaid can have a significant impact on your long-term finances. You must then make sure to spend less than what you’re bringing in. It’s often easier to reduce your spending than it is to increase your earnings, which brings us to the next point.

2. Create a Budget

To really keep on top of how much you’re spending each month, and to see where you can cut down if necessary, you must have a budget. This takes some time to set up, but once it’s organized, it shouldn’t take very long each month to go over. You will need to list all of your income. In a separate column, list all of your expenses. Every single one. This includes everything from your rent or mortgage to your quick snack from the checkout line. Include child care, electricity and transport costs, as well as coffee from the machine, your newspaper subscription you never look at and the extra loaf of bread from the corner store. List your expenses in order of importance so that if you need to cut back, you can cut off the things you don’t need first.

3. Pay Off Debt

This is easier said than done for most people. Have a careful look at all of your debt and prioritize. Credit card debt is a great place to start as it has high interest rates. As you pay off one debt, work your way to the next.

4. Save!

If you’re trying to get on top of your finances, you may think this is crazy, but getting into the saving habit is important early on. Set up a direct debit to a savings account so that your savings are automatic and are done before you can even consider spending that money on something else. It can be a small amount. Anything is a great start and you can increase the amount at any stage. On top of that, contribute to a retirement plan. Especially if you’re young! Now is the time to start.

5. Plan Ahead

This is sound advice for any situation and can help your finances. Planning your weekly meals will help with buying only what you need. Planning for retirement will help you make financially smart decisions now. Even planning your vacations thoroughly will help you find good deals and spend less. Keep your finances at the front of your mind and you’ll find you make financially smarter decisions more often.