At the beginning of every year, we make resolutions to improve our lives. Whether it’s to get healthier, drink less coffee or spend less money on shoes. It’s a great time to look at your life and make changes, and what better area to work on than the state of your finances?
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is they’re easy to make, but also easy to break. Usually this is because we make them too ambitious and set ourselves up to fail.
Instead, aim for something more manageable. For example, you’re probably not going to stop buying clothes altogether, but you can make a budget and stick to it. By using our Budget Planner, it will help better prepare you for your day-to-day expenditure every month and show what could be left for luxuries. And the nice thing about financial resolutions is that small changes can add up to huge savings over the course of the year.
1. Curb your spending
Everyone talks about the benefits of making your own lunch or coffee to take to work. But it’s unrealistic to assume that you’ll never go to your favourite coffee shop again. Giving up entirely means you’re bound to fail, but you can promise to cut down.
For instance, say a daily regular latté that costs £2.50 would cost you £75 over 30 days. If you cut out just two a week you’d save £20 a month and £240 by the end of the year.
It’s also worth checking carefully to see where your money is going. According to the 2018 Forgotten Subscription Index by TopCashback, it shows that we waste an average of £21.09 a month on subscriptions we barely use.
An annual gym membership could set you back nearly £600, but 50% of people admit they rarely use the gym at all after sign-up.
Go through your spending and check that you’re regularly using the services you pay for. If you don’t use the service, check whether there are any early cancellation fees. Sometimes it is cheaper to pay the fee that keep paying for that service for the full term. That way you can always pay for a one-time pass when you actually want to do something.
If you have subscriptions you do use regularly, ask yourself if you can get the service cheaper elsewhere. For instance, depending on what you watch, swapping services could save you serious money.
2. Deal with your debts
If you’ve got debts, such as credit cards, loans or store cards, it’s really important that you’re paying them off properly. Missing just one payment can negatively impact your credit rating and affect your ability to borrow money in the future.
If debt spirals, you can even end up with a County Court Judgment or going bankrupt.
Paying off the bare minimum each month is a sure-fire way to make sure you end up paying more in interest. Write all your debts down and work out which ones have the highest interest payments. If you can, try to pay more than the minimum and you’ll save in the long term.
Read our article for ways to get out of debt.
3. Start habits to save money
It’s important to have savings, so you have some cash set aside in case of emergencies. Planning ahead can help you to put a little away each month, which over time can become a sizeable amount.
One thing that stops people saving is that they wait until the end of each week or month, promising to save whatever is left over. But most of us prioritise immediate happiness (spending) over future happiness (saving) so by the time we get around to it, there’s nothing left.
Instead, why not try putting aside money straight away on payday, before you have the chance to spend it. Saving just £10 a week, means you'll have £520 by the end of the year. This is one of our top tips to help you get into the habit of saving money.
Remember, you can always use the Budget Planner to help you manage your finances.