New Year New Finance29th January 2020
We’ve come up with Five financial resolutions that’ll help you get the new year off to a flying start…
If your finances have got into a bit of a tangle, why not make 2020 the year to sort them out?
To give you a helping hand, here are five financial New Year’s resolutions that will change your life for the better.
1. Get into the savings habit
With money tight for many of us, saving on a regular basis can be difficult. However, if you work out a budget and make a few cutbacks, you’ll find it much easier.
A great tip is to go through all your regular monthly outgoings and direct debits. Most people will find that they are paying for things that they no longer need or want. For some of your other outgoings like insurances, utilities etc.…you may be able to find cheaper options.
It’s also a good idea to set yourself a realistic target. Telling yourself that you’ll start saving half of your salary each month is likely to be impossible.
So make sure you set a target you know you can stick too. Even if you can only manage a small amount each month, this can soon add up.
Don’t miss the tax deadline
Some things will remain the same every year and the deadline for tax returns is one of them. The last day for online returns for the 2018-19 tax year is still 31 January.
Failing to file your return or not paying what you owe on time will result in penalty fees and interest charges. But still people fail to pay on time, sometimes with excuses which may not be born in truth – “my mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me” and “I’m too short to reach the postbox” among them.
So get the job out of the way as soon as possible, ensure that you are taking advantage of all of the tax reliefs that are available, such as for expenses – and also ensure that you declare all of your income.
3. Reduce your food bill
For your New Year’s resolution number three, start slashing those food bills!
A good place to start is online, using a website like mySupermarket.co.uk. This allows you to compare how much your shopping would cost at the main supermarkets so you’ll be able to choose the cheapest one.
Ditching the big brands and plumping for supermarket own brands, as well as buying from deep discounters and planning ahead, rather than buying on impulse, can also help to shave money off your bill.
Build up loyalty points with the major supermarkets and look out for special offers where they will allow you to double up your points value at specific times of the year.
Buy your holiday money at the right time
The pound has plummeted against both the euro and the dollar since 2016. While there may have been some rises after the Conservative election victory, they were soon followed by declines when new Brexit plans were announced.
These ups and downs don’t hide the fact that winter holidays on the French slopes and the annual summer break in Spain have got a lot more expensive for households. So how to make the most out of weak sterling?
Transfer your money in advance, getting the best rates online using comparison engines such as MoneySavingExpert, and avoid at all cost changing money when you are in the airport.
Avoid ATM charges by using a card which does not charge for foreign exchange fees or other charges when withdrawing money abroad, such as Starling or Monzo (within a £200 limit outside the European Economic Area).
5. Consolidate your debt
The excesses of Christmas spending are too often followed by credit card debt to be dealt with in January. A quiet month for many, it is a good time to take stock of how you spend and how you can make your money work better for you.
The first rule of credit card debt is to try to pay more than the minimum amount and act sooner rather than later if you feel things are getting on top of you.
Look out for the latest balance transfer offers and if things have got on top of you, it might be appropriate to pay everything off with a consolidation loan which will reduce your total monthly outgoings to a more manageable amount.
Organisations such as National Debtline, Citizens Advice, the Debt Advice Foundation, StepChange and PayPlan are all available to help if things do get out of control.