A new year is traditionally a time to look to the future and set about making changes that will impact our lives for the better.
The top two areas of focus tend to be fitness and finances and, while we can’t help you with the first, on account of the fact that we too are still eating too much cheese and chocolate, we can help you with the second.
- Address any avoidable expenditure
It may be a new year but are you REALLY going to use that gym subscription that you’ve been paying for over the past years already? Do you honestly use the cinema subscription that you pay for monthly, enough to make it justifiable? If not, set about cancelling them. These things all add up and will see leaks in your monthly accounts if you’re not careful.
Also consider whether you are doing things in a cost-efficient way. Could you make your home more energy efficient to reduce your bills? Are you on the best tariff for what you use? Do you have credit cards or loans that you could reduce by switching to a different provider with a lower interest rate?
- Manage debt more efficiently
It’s easy to stick our heads in the sand about how much debt we really have, but that’s never going to make the situation any better. Take an honest look at your debt – not just credit cards and loans, but mortgages, car finance and any other high-price items you have on a credit agreement. Is there a way that you could consolidate these debts to pay them off quicker, or with less interest?
- Build an emergency fund
It may seem easier said than done but having savings will reduce your stress levels and ease off the pressure when unexpected expenses come your way. Even if you start small, it’s a good idea to have something adding up in the background for when you really need it. The easiest way to do this is to treat it as another expense and simply set up an automatic payment each month to leave your regular account and transfer over to your savings account. Get it out of your daily account before you notice and miss it.
- Build an even bigger savings pot
When you already have a buffer for emergencies, it’s easier to think about putting money aside for your bigger, longer-term goals.
One way to do this is to regularly save into an ISA, and as there are various ISAs available, there’s usually one that will suit most people’s needs. For simple savings, a cash ISA will give you tax-free interest that isn’t affected by fluctuations in the marketplace and is generally easy to access. For something longer term, a stocks and shares ISA will enable you to save for longer, with the possibility for greater growth.
Each adult in the UK has a £20,000 annual ISA savings limit that can be split between different types of ISA, so you can also invest in each and tailor your savings to your needs.
And finally – be realistic!
It’s easy to overpromise yourself and vow to give up too much, do too much, or change too much too quickly. Instead of vowing to give up chocolate, try just cutting back. Rather than signing up for a marathon, why not start with the Couch to 5K? It’s the same with your finances – focus on making small changes and you will be more likely to stick with it and see a bigger win in the long run. Before you know it, it will be 2021 and after a year of improved habits, you really will be ready to sign up to that marathon.
To speak to us about help with getting on top of your finances, please get in touch.
This article does not constitute financial advice and should not be construed as such.