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When it comes to money it can be hard to balance your short-term wants and long-term needs, and those unexpected events that can creep up out of nowhere.

You need to cover your short-term costs like food and bills, as well as saving up for a comfortable retirement, and paying for those last-minute car repairs so you can drive to work!

A great first step for preparing for your financial future is to sign up for a pension. Depending on the type of pension plan you join, you may be able to contribute whenever you can and as much as you want or, if you are employed, then you will be auto-enrolled to your workplace pension in which a percentage of your wages will automatically be paid in monthly with your employer matching this contribution. Learn more about pensions to ensure you get the right plan for you. But in the meantime, here are some smaller steps you can take to keep yourself on track.

Set financial goals

It is always good to have a clear idea of why you are saving money, if it sits in a savings account with no purpose, it can be more tempting to dip into it. You can allocate your savings for your retirement, for a house deposit, for a car, or just an emergency fund that should only be used for unexpected expenses like car or home repairs.

Create a budget

The best way to keep on track and reduce the risk of overspending is to create a budget. Add up all your monthly bills and allocate your remaining income for other things you will need to spend money on such as food and entertainment. Having a predetermined amount set aside for certain things will help you know what you can and cannot afford – always include payments into your savings account in your budget!

Build an emergency fund

If you are saving for something in particular then you might also want to keep a separate emergency fund aside otherwise, you might find yourself taking money from your house deposit in an emergency. If you keep having to take funds from your savings when your washing machine breaks or you have an unexpectedly high heating bill then you will never build up enough for that new car. Keep your separate savings goals separate.

Do not skip on insurance

We can all feel a little bitter about paying for insurance because you only benefit from it if you need it but it is always worth it. It is important to plan for the unexpected when considering your financial future and you do not ever want to find yourself in a situation where you need insurance but do not have it.

Pay down debt

Most of us have some kind of debt whether it is from a credit card or a car loan, and a great way to plan for the future is to pay down debts. Set automatic bill payments each month, higher than the minimum payment if you can afford it.