GUEST BLOG: MoneyMagpie's Jasmine Birtles explains how to sort out your budget in January

Running your own business is pressure enough without having to cope with personal financial problems of your own.

But with just a little effort (really, no more than an hour or two once a quarter) you can get on top of your finances so that you can concentrate on your business and make the most of the money you do make.

Here are a few steps to help you put your money in it's place - under your thumb!

1.    Do a quick budget

It doesn't have to take long. You can either do it on the back of an envelope (put your incomings in one column, your essential outgoings in another) or, even easier, put your details into our budget calculator and let it tell you how much money you have left over each month.

2.    Switch to save

You can free up more money for yourself by switching your essential bills to cheaper and better versions. Use our comparison service and, if you feel like it, try some of the other comparison tables on the net - there are lots of them! Just aim to save yourself a few hundred quid at least over the next 12 months.

3.    Get out of debt

If you're in debt that's tough enough, but if you're trying to get a business off the ground at the same time, that's mega-pressure. Do your damnedest to get out of debt in any way you can. Certainly switch your debts to cheaper ones if possible (there are still some good 0% deals on the market, for example) and make paying them off a priority.

If the debts become too big to deal with as you run the business, though, be open to getting a part-time job for a while to get yourself on an even keel financially.

Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break when things are too tough. You can always go back to the business later on.

4.    Pay yourself first

Once you're our of debt, make sure that you look after yourself before handing your money over to restaurant owners, pub landlords and clothes shops. Set up a standing order each month for some money to go into a savings account - enough to cover you for at least three months - and then into long-term investments to give you a rich retirement.

Pay into these accounts first before you go out and splash your cash elsewhere. Look after yourself. When you're self-employed, no one else will.

5.    Keep an eye on your own bottom line

Think of yourself as a business. Just as you would keep an eye on costs in your business, you should keep a general (though not obsessive) eye on your personal outgoings. Get what you can for free (like doing house-swaps for free holidays or mystery shopping for free meals); look for discount codes and special offers on things you want to buy (Toptable.com does great 50% off deals and Keynoir.com has some lovely offers on luxuries you'd like but can't quite justify) and see what you can share or swap with friends and colleagues rather than buy your own all the time.

Finally, consider paying off your mortgage as quickly as possible. I set up Moneymagpie.com after I had paid off my mortgage because once I had eliminated that nasty big bill every month I felt I could then invest in a business. That way I was able to set it up on my own and not be beholden to outside investors. By the way, I did it in nine years and you can find out how you could do it too.

Even if you have too many other money pressures to consider paying off your mortgage in double-quick time right now, see if you could overpay a little each month. It's a great investment - tax-efficient and much safer than most investment products. Look into it when you can.

And of course, the most important thing you must do to get your finances sorted for this year and every year, is to sign up to our free weekly newsletter. It will give you all the money information you need, when you need it...great bargains too!

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