It's that time when you promise yourself to do things better. Here are some great New Year's resolutions to ensure you make the most of your money and keep your finances under control.
1. Get the most out of your savings
With interest rates hovering around historic lows, it pays to find every little bit of additional interest you can find.
Keep a regular check on who are offering the best rates on savings. However, you should also compare any restrictions that banks or building societies place on accounts, such as withdrawal periods or any fees you may incur for taking your money out.
If you have a lump sum and you are not too concerned about getting your money out quickly, consider a fixed interest account. These accounts are usually for one or more years and pay a fixed amount of interest during that period. The rates on offer are often higher than regular variable rate savings accounts. However, if you need to withdraw funds quickly then you may incur penalty fees or lose the interest rate offer. Always ensure you read the terms and conditions before applying.
Compare the latest savings account rates on a free to use comparison table.
2. Start a simple monthly budget for yourself
Budgeting is often easier said than done but try and make it a habit. It doesn’t have to be a complicated Excel spreadsheet. To start, do a simple 5 minute exercise where you write down all your monthly income and then all your monthly outgoings.
For most people, their only source of income will be their salary but others may have rent coming in from a second property or a room they let in their own home. Perhaps you have a small business that you run on the side. The outgoings will be anything that you regularly have to pay out such as mortgage or rent payments, utility bills, food, entertainment, clothing and so on.
Doing this simple exercise will already give you a very good picture as to where you can start to make savings and perhaps cut down on expenses that are not absolutely necessary.
Try and keep a running total throughout the month on where your money goes. Check your online bank account regularly, even daily, to help you do this.
A great idea is to make monthly goals. For example, set yourself a target of savings an extra £100 per month by cutting down on what you spend - see how far you can take this challenge. Again, although difficult at first, this becomes habit forming after a while and provides a great life skill.
3. Make paying off your debts a priority
Debt interest payments can be the biggest thing that stops people moving on with their lives. Where possible, always pay off your debts before buying new things. If you can, pay off more than the minimum monthly payment and set yourself a target date by which time you will have paid off everything.
Sometimes, having a large amount of debt is like carrying a millstone around your neck. However down you may feel about it, you must face up to the challenge of paying off everything you owe. Make realistic targets and stick to them rigidly. Cut down every expense you can in order to pay off your debts. Avoid buying unnecessary items like a new TV or mobile phone. Instead, use that money to pay off debts.
By sticking to a realistic plan and having complete focus, you can set yourself free of debt and gain valuable life lessons in doing so.
4. Save tons of money by shopping around for the best price
No matter what you’re looking to purchase, from a games console to broadband to insurance or even food items, always compare prices.
Comparing prices can save you hundreds and sometimes thousand of pounds a year. Do not feel loyalty to any single company or provider. The name of the game is to get the best deal possible for the same product or service.
For example, here at Pocketrate.com one the products we compare is broadband. Our free to use comparison tables enable you to find the best broadband package from a host of top UK providers. You can filter out your requirements and see at a glance the latest and best deals available. Some prices may even be exclusive and available through the website.
Another example would be Breakdown Cover for your car. Again, here at PocketRate we have very simple comparison matrix that shows you prices across the marketplace for various levels of cover. This not only saves you having to visit each site separately but also gives you a quick side-by-side comparison.
Get in the habit of using online comparison sites like PocketRate.com to find the best possible deal.
5. Plan for the future
It’s easy to neglect what your finances may look like in the future, especially if you’re young and care free. However, start thinking about how you can make your money work better.
We’ve already mentioned finding accounts that offer better interest rates but also tale a look at putting your money into a cash ISA to get the benefit of tax free savings. You can compare ISA rates on PocketRate.com to find some of the best offers available.
If you’re looking to buy a house then check out Help to Buy ISAs where the government will top up your savings and help you get a foot on the housing ladder.
All employers must now offer a workplace pension by law and automatically enroll you if you’re eligible. However, if you have not been automatically enrolled then you can still join. Check out the government website for the latest advice.