Get your year off to a kick start by making sure you set a New Years Resolution to save money, boost your income or manage your finances better.
Happy New Year! Another year another fresh outlook on life and all that this New Year can offer us.
From quitting smoking to starting to exercise or even giving blood, there are so many different thing you can choose to start doing or to stop doing this year.
If you haven’t set any New Years Resolutions yet, why not make this year one where you add a financial resolution to your list of improvements? If you’re having trouble thinking of a good one then why not pick one from below:
Switch energy provider
Why anyone is paying more than they need to for their gas and electricity truly surprises me.
Some people have told me that they can’t be bothered to switch as it’s too much hassle but (without being rude) they are just outright wrong.
It can take around 5 minutes to check cheaper energy prices and then switch. Everything is done between your old energy supplier and the new one so no hassle to you. There is no loss of supply and everything goes smoothly. The only thing that’ll be different is the name of the direct debit on your bank statement, a change of logo on your bill and that you save money every month.
Do this for the New Year to save up to £300 easily – then remember to do a check every year as you may be able to make savings all the time!
Start your switch now and let me know how much you can actually save.
Don’t auto re-new
When your insurance comes up for renewal, don’t just settle for the amount you get quoted. It’s easy and quick to use a comparison site to see if you can get a better deal financially. I know that customer service also plays a factor in sticking with some companies but ask yourself how often you really make contact with them and see if it’s worth any additional costs.
Create a budget
This takes a little time but then you have it, the resolution can be ticked off (other than sticking to it!)
So many people don’t actually realise how much they earn, let alone knowing how much money gets paid out each month on food, bills and random spending.
Get out your bank statements and make a list of everything you get paid each month from your salary to any benefits you receive. Then start to make a list of all the things you pay out for each month: rent or mortgage, energy bills, water, council tax, TV, broadband, phone, mobile, Netflix, food, Starbucks, bars of chocolate, pack of gum, a magazine for the kids – literally everything.
Add up each list and subtract the outgoings from the incomings to see how much you’re either left with or, worryingly, how much you are over spending. When you have everything written down, you can then see when you can cut back and adjust your spending so you can keep balanced each month.
Start saving for an emergency
Even putting a few quid here and there will help you to save for an emergency. But how much should you save? It’s different for everyone really and would depend on how much you’d need to pay out if the car broke down, or if your washing machine packed in or even if it was something smaller like (another) unexpected school trip or if you lost your job.
Once the fund is filled and in place, you can start saving towards something else but you can be confident knowing you have a bit of money put aside to fall back on.
Quit your habits
Not all habits are necessarily bad habits but if you quit them (or even just cut them back a bit) then you’ll be better off financially.
An obvious one is smoking. Not only will your health increase but so will the amount of money in your pocket.
If you’re just going to cut back, consider one less trip to the pub or cinema each month, not having a latte at lunchtime a few times a week or ditching the car when you go to the corner shop and walk instead.
Make a note of how much you save over the course of the months and you’ll be stunned on how the money soon adds up.
You may have some big purchases planned for this year? Perhaps you need something major done to the house or one of the kitchen appliances is on its last legs. Maybe you were looking to upgrade your TV, you were going to book a family holiday or you were going to get your kid a new games console?
Whatever you are shopping for – no matter how big or small – don’t just agree to part with your money with what you first see.
Spend a little time checking it’s what you really want and need, get a few different quotes or search online to find other prices. You may not find a better price but if you do, you could find you save yourself loads!
When shopping online there is no reason you shouldn’t be going via a cashback site. For each purchase you make, you earn a percentage back from what you pay.
Don’t just think this about shopping on the high street. Remember that you can also earn cashback in the supermarket with apps like CheckoutSmart so be sure to get every penny back on every purchase you make this year.
No spending days
This resolution can become a spending habit that will end up saving you a fair bit. The idea is that you stop buying anything willy-nilly. Instead, you set yourself days in each week that you won’t be able to buy anything. Nothing, nada, zilch, zero – you get the idea.
Making sure that you aren’t going to be spending money will mean less impulse purchases so say goodbye to those bars of chocolate when you feel like you need a sugar kick.
I’m not saying have seven no spend days a week. Choose maybe three, which will give you a few days when you can shop like normal and perhaps buy that bar of chocolate.
It’s the days you can’t make a purchase where you’ll learn to curb back on unnecessary spending.
It will work out to be an interesting year if you track what you buy. For each trip to the shop and for every item added to an online checkout, make sure you jot down what you’ve bought and how much you spent to a dairy.
As the weeks and months go on, you’ll start to build up a picture of your habits that may need addressing and can use this as a way to cut down on how much leaves your bank account.
Buy second hand
It’s lovely to own new things but it can also work out expensive. Instead of heading to the high street, change your buying habits this year by buying everything second hand.
As a financial benefit (and an eco-friendly one too), from eBay, car boot sales or charity shops you can pick up everything to clothe you and your family and kit your house out for a fraction of the price versus new.
So many things that sell second hand aren’t that old. Instead of seeing it go to waste, give it a new lease of life and help the environment too.
Make more money
Saving money can only go so far but the real way to be in the money is to increase your income. There are so many different ways to increase your income. For starters, you could try:
- If you’re employed, ask for a pay increase
- Apply for a higher paying secondment at your company
- Apply for a new job
- Get a second part time job
- Sell stuff you make
- Blog for profit
- Mystery shopping
- Make money with your smart phone
Any extra sources of incomes or side hustles that you can do will instantly transform your finances.
Change your food habits
If you find you buy the same branded products in the supermarket each week then stop! I’m not saying to switch your luxury baked beans for the white label equivalent but at least try going down one brand. It doesn’t seem like a massive saving but if you switch a few cans a week (and do this with everything that makes it to the conveyor belt) you’ll see a huge discount off your supermarket shop by the end of the year.
You could even decide to order less take-outs (switch to a fakeaway instead) and how about buying a lunchbox and taking your own sandwiches to work every day. You’ll instantly be saving money.
Cook from scratch
Simple and actually easier than I ever thought possible is making your meals from scratch. The idea of cooking seemed a difficult, time consuming and boring task to me a few years ago but when forced into a corner, I learnt how to cook delicious meals that the family love for a snip of the price of packet meals and takeaways.
Don’t buy a Bolognese sauce when you can make one with fresh ingredients, that costs less, tastes better and takes to no longer to cook. The same goes for loads for other family favourite meals.
Write a list of your favourite meals that you make with a packet or jar then take a look at recipes that you can use to make it fresh instead.
Throw out less food
Food waste in the UK is massive with billions of pounds worth of food being thrown in the bin each year.
Instead of sending food to the rubbish tip, think of ways you can use up food. Even if you don’t do it with all food, maybe just pick one food that your family is a little worse with.
If you find that you throw out half a loaf of bread each week, find ways to use up a loaf (bread and butter pudding anyone?!).
Clearing all of your debt may be a stretch too far if you’re in deep. Instead of clearing it all, be realistic on how much you can clear then add a stretched target. If you give yourself something that has to push you slightly further, you’ll be more likely to reach the target and succeed than having a target that is too big, miss completely and feel deflated.
So pick a figure and do everything in your power to hit it. Whether it’s making more money to pay off more, reducing your outgoings or negotiating with creditors to freeze or stop interest, you can do it!
Happy and prosperous New Year to everyone!
Ricky Willis is the original Skint Dad. A money-making enthusiast, father, and husband to Naomi. He is always looking for unique ways to earn a little extra.