A new year is the perfect time for a fresh start – make a few changes now to have an easier year ahead, and save money you didn’t know you had! Here’s how…
Know your budget
Go over your finances and implement monthly budgets. Look over your receipts and bank statements to see what you usually spend on food, bills, petrol etc and make notes. Total up the things you need, and also the amounts you usually spend on luxuries. Just understanding where your money goes will help you to keep better track of it in the future. If you find it hard to keep on top of it, install an app on your phone to help.
Think about which luxuries you can live without. For instance, could you give up your gym membership or Sky TV in order to save up for a holiday? A switch to Netflix and a run around the block could allow you to save a significant amount of money each year. If you’re not keen to lose your luxuries, simply switching to a budget supermarket can save you a bomb! Have a look at my post on how to reduce your monthly outgoings for more info.
Are you getting the best deals on your bills and other subscriptions? Set aside some time to go through and check what you are paying, against current offers, and don’t be afraid to switch companies if you find you’re paying over the odds. This can save you hundreds of pounds and it’s definitely worth a boring evening!
Comparison websites make it really simple to get a great deal on your gas and electric costs, and will help you to stay on top of price hikes too. If you find the whole thing too confusing, Look After My Bills will do the leg work for you, and switch you to the best deals automatically. For more ideas, read my post on how to reduce your utility bills.
Save for the big stuff
Open a savings account and start budgeting for next Christmas NOW! Avoid getting into debt by setting up a monthly standing order to cover the costs that December will surely bring. You won’t notice a little coming out each month, but times it by 12 and you’ll have a nice surprise when you come to buy your presents at the end of the year.
Think about the other big expenses that you’ll have this year too – holidays, birthdays, summer childcare, car servicing etc, and consider how much you’ll need to pay for these extras. Save a little each month and you’ll have a lot when you need it.
Check your diary
Often spending spirals because we’ve booked in lots of social events close together. Whilst this may not be an issue at the moment (the diary has never been so empty!) it’s certainly something to keep in mind when things start to get back on track. Be aware of what’s coming up so you can budget for it or make cutbacks in other areas to accommodate the extra funds you’ll need. When the time is right, why not have your friends and family over to the house too? You can have a laugh and few drinks without spending much at all.
Reduce your food bill
The weekly shop can take a huge chunk of our wages every month but there are lots of ways to slash the cost and reducing your food shop by just £20 a week will save you over £1000 every year! Simply planning ahead with a meal plan, using similar ingredients and making the most of your leftovers can save you a fortune – check out my supermarket tips for more info.
Adopt a more minimalistic lifestyle
Minimalism is about living with less – giving you the freedom to spend less time, money and energy on stuff, and more on actually living. And whilst minimalism often starts at home, it’s also a lifestyle choice. For me, living in a frugal way and being a minimalist go hand in hand. It’s part of who I am.
Lockdown took this idea to a whole new level; stripping us of our plans and obligations; forcing us into a simplistic lifestyle. I like to think it made us all reflect, and make permanent changes to the way we use our homes and live our lives. There’s no better time to embrace a more simplistic lifestyle – read my article ‘Be more with less’ to get started.
Plan for the future
It’s never too soon to think about retirement – if you haven’t started a pension already, now is the time! A little each month can make a huge amount if you start early, and speak to your employer about contributions from them too. It will soon grow and you’ll have financial security in your old age.
Make a will
If you don’t already have a will, but have a home, partner, children or all of the above, then you need to get your finances in order should anything happen to you. If you don’t want to shell out for a solicitor, search online for free will services or use a will writing guide to write your own. Just make sure your loved ones know where your will is lodged should anything happen to you.
Just as a will is really important, life insurance is vital too, and it amazes me how many people don’t have it! If you have children or a spouse, they need to be protected with a life insurance payout should the worst happen. It’s usually only a small amount each month and it’s worth every penny to give your family security. We insure our cars, our phones and our homes – don’t forget to insure yourself and your partner too.