Where will you be next year?

It’s hard to predict the future, but the past is already set in stone – there for us to review whenever we want to. When you look back, it’s easy to see how your decisions worked out: you can see which ones you regret, which ones really paid off and which ones didn’t really make much of a difference.

With that in mind, says a press release from financial solutions company Think Money, a thorough review of the last 12 months can be an excellent planning tool when it comes to figuring out your financial approach for 2012.

There are many ways to do that. Some people use budget planners; others make a point of keeping receipts and invoices; still others take a ‘combination’ approach to reviewing their finances.

However you choose to look back at 2011’s financial decisions, the important thing is that you learn from them. If you see any indications that you could have handled your finances better last year, how can you apply that understanding to this year? How can you make sure you learn from any mistakes you’ve made, rather than running the risk of repeating them?

Turning to debt problems specifically, the press release stresses the importance of taking the right approach to budgeting and debt management. One thing that can help here is getting some professional debt advice. A debt adviser can help you go over your finances and suggest ways of tackling any issues you’re facing – and the sooner you face up to those issues and find out what guidance a professional can offer you, the less time your problems should have to turn into something worse.

Finally, some generic advice. Whatever situation someone’s in, setting up direct debits can be a good way to make sure payments are made on time, avoiding the late payment charges and possible damage to their credit rating which could otherwise ensue.

As for people who feel they’re comfortably in control of their finances, it helps to bear in mind that no-one knows what the future will bring. You may have spare money on a monthly basis today, but that could change, however unappealing that thought may be. One tried-and-tested way of preparing for the future is to put money aside whenever possible, creating a ‘safety net’ that could make all the difference if your finances take a turn for the worse further down the line.