For many, taking the reins on your frivolous financial spending is high on the agenda for 2016. December is an expensive month – what with the mountain of presents one has to buy for friends and family, the temptation of Black Friday sales and the numerous social occasions one has to attend – and therefore January’s spending feels more reserved than ever.
Here are 12 ways you can be more astute with your money this year.
1. Save the pennies…
Yes, it’s a gaping cliché, but it really is a very easy way to make money you never knew you had, or lost. Alternatively, try putting £10 aside every week of the year from now… £520 is not to be balked at!
2. Assess your current bank account
‘Because you’ve been with your bank for umpteen years’ isn’t a reason to remain loyal to them indefinitely. Others may offer better rates, saving plans, ISA rates, etc, and these can lead to the redirection of your accounts for the better. Switching is easier than ever, so ensure you and your finances are being looked after as best as possible.
3. Manage your pension – plan ahead
It screams of adulthood, but at some point we all have to take a sensible approach to our long-term future. The here and now is all well and good, and far more fun, but with life expectancy ever growing, it isn’t unrealistic to assume that many of us will be retired for 20, if not 30 years. So start saving now.
4. Take more responsibility for your spending
Trawling through bank statements and receipts is as much fun as ice skating on sandpaper, but with a mature approach to facing your outgoings the better position you are in to analyse where you can make cuts. So, rather than bury unopened bank letters and refusing to look at the wad of receipts in your wallet after a night out, face them head on and understand why you’re always looking longingly towards the next payday.
5. Avoid the overly easy, but expensive, options
Most obviously, Uber. No doubting it’s a great way to get yourself home, in whatever state that may be, but remember the days before this craze when we considered night buses or the last Tube? A £2 bus may be slightly less inviting, and somewhat slower, but it’ll save you a noticeable amount of money from the get-go.
6. Make your own lunch
Yes, there’s something very sad about Tupperware at the desk, but the financial pressure making your lunch relieves opposed to buying your food every day is not to be ignored. When you think about it, to pay £4 for two slices of questionable bread and a measly slice of ham is daylight robbery. You don’t need a degree in maths to work out that the effect of a daily £5 lunch soon painfully adds up to £1000s over the course of a year.
7. Cut where you can
Two areas where this is hugely important year-on-year is insurance and utility bills. Never settle for a deal due to convenience, as there may be offers out there that save you £20/£50 per month. Meagre amounts when shared between housemates, but over the course of the year this adds up to a considerable saving. Also consider the direct debits you have going out every month and whether or not that it is money well spent. Do you really benefit from your newspaper subscription? Have you been to the gym in the past month?
8. Invest wisely
Investment may require the initial input of resources, but when done with a wise disposition, there are rewards to be reaped. Seek advice if in an area of interest – art, wine, watches, etc. – or speak to an expert about entry into stocks and shares that seem like safe bets. Sometimes spending a little can lead to the making of a lot.
On a more native level, invest in clothes that will last rather than what seems like the cheap option. Generally speaking, clothes carrying a large price tag endure wear and tear and therefore reduce spending in the long run. (Here are 10 investment pieces you need in your wardrobe.)
9. Take advantage of freebies
Not everything has to require the punching in of your pin. Look for the exhibitions, galleries and events which fall into this bracket. Culture doesn’t always have to come at a price.
10. Make a little extra on the side
With the sharing economy taking over the world as we know it, jump on the bandwagon and make yourself some easy extra money. Whether it’s Airbnb, JustPark, or Borrow My Doggy, there are a plethora of options.
11. Consider a UK holiday
The UK is often foolishly overlooked as a feasible holiday destination. But there are some incredible places to visit within our home shores that don’t require an expensive travel bill, visas, vaccinations etc., so make 2016 the year you explore the places that don’t require a passport.
12. Ask for that pay rise
If you honestly feel you are worthy of a pay rise, and the boss agrees, the matter is easily resolved. Worse case scenario (providing you follow this guide) is a “not yet”; best case scenario is an increase to your bank balance.