Small Steps to a brighter future – how we can help you achieve your health and finance goals

As we get a little older, it’s only natural that our thoughts turn to the future.

Will we have enough money to support us in retirement? How can we best protect our health and stay active for longer? And where do we start?

Psychologist Anjula Mutanda says it’s common to defer decisions over our health and finances because the task can seem to great.

She explains: "If I want to eat chocolate cake I go and eat it because it’s rewarding, it’s instant gratification and easy.

"But anything like losing weight, future-proofing yourself by putting money aside or taking more exercise, feels like a chore. It involves effort and the results aren’t necessarily instant so we’re prone to talking ourselves out of it.

"One of the biggest barriers to achieving our goals is actually setting targets that are so unrealistic we immediately fail.

"The answer is to break things down into small manageable steps that seem doable – and then do them."

And that’s where we can help.

In this hub you'll find lots of useful advice, and plenty of inspiration too, for achieving those big goals by taking small steps.

Here, we round up some of the simple actions that will help make sure we have a brighter tomorrow.  

10 steps to better health and finances

  1. Look through bank statements to note down how much money you have coming in each month compared with how much goes out. Getting a clear picture of your personal budget is a vital step towards good financial planning.
  2. Taking a close look at our spending is an important step to working out whether there are small changes we can make to save money. How much, for example, is spent on coffees, take-aways and snacks? By cutting back on some of the extras we can not only save cash, but also trim our waistlines as well creating a win-win situation.
  3. By establishing your budget, you will also be in a better position to decide on your financial goals. Could you, for instance, be in a position to save or invest some money so that you have both a financial cushion and a pot of reserve cash that could prove very valuable in the future?
  4. Retirement may seem distant or it may just be around the corner, but either way it’s vital to be prepared so that we can continue to live life to the full. A little forward planning now will go a long way, so use our retirement checklist to help ensure you have all bases covered.
  5. The regulations around pensions have recently changed in the UK, meaning we now have more flexible retirement options including taking up to 25 per cent of pension savings as a cash sum, as well as using the money to secure income for life. By understanding the options now, we can better prepare to make the most of our golden years.
  6. If you’ve already reached retirement, there are ways that you can boost your income, and we’ve pulled together some tips to help you achieve that.
  7. An essential ingredient to a fuller life is good health. And while for those who don’t currently exercise the thought of getting started can be a daunting one, take inspiration from the Fixing Dad challenge which saw two sons turn their dad’s type 2 diabetes condition around by improving his diet and helping him become more physically active.
  8. While elaborate eating plans can seem overwhelming, we’ve listed the everyday super-foods we can include in our diet that will help us get the right nutrients and stay fuller for longer, fending off cravings for the junk foods that make us gain weight and deplete our energy.
  9. There’s plenty of evidence to show exercise can help us stay active for longer. Taking small steps to becoming more active will help get the ball rolling and, as our fitness grows, encourage us to do more. There are so many options, you’re bound to find something you love and, to give you some ideas, we’ve rounded up the best forms of exercise for those over 40.
  10. A much overlooked part of staying well longer is our sleep. Getting a good night’s rest allows our bodies to rejuvenate and repair, while sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. The average adult needs between seven and nine hours sleep a night, falling slightly over the age of 65 to between seven and eight hours.

About Anjula Mutanda

Anjula Mutanda is a psychologist, broadcaster, author and life coach, with wide-ranging knowledge and experience of issues such as self-esteem and confidence, body image, depression, and relationships. 

A former resident psychologist on This Morning, she regularly appears on TV and in the press, and works across diverse settings – from supporting students at the University of Kent, to providing stress management consultancy in the City.