New Year’s Resolutions You Should Be Making to Save Money
As we head into 2017, many people will be starting to implement their New Year’s resolutions. It’s a great time of renewal and an opportunity to reflect on all the things we’d like to change and do something about it.
If you want to save some pennies this year, here are a few ways to get you to your target:
Keep an Eye on Your Money
With the advent of debit cards, most of us have trouble tracking how much we spend. When we used cash more, once it was gone, that was it. Now we can pull out our trusty cards and quickly swipe them at the checkout, when we like. That means we tend to spend more than we think.
Having a way to track your money, particularly how much you spend on those extra treats, can give you great feedback and a real insight into your own monetary habits. It can help you be more resistant to those extra spends which, when added together, cost you a lot of money each month. You can get online and mobile apps to do this nowadays or you can simply put up a monthly spreadsheet to keep track. Either way, it’s important to have a good idea about what’s coming in and going out.
Put Money Aside to Invest
We earmark money for our bills, for the weekly shopping, so why not do it for your savings as well? Many of us want to save X amount a month but seem to conveniently forget about it when other things get in the way. Either open a savings account that you DD the money into or make a concerted effort to store an affordable minimum amount each month. You’ll be surprised how quickly this builds up and forms a nice little savings nest which you can use for everything from emergencies to that dream holiday. Committing to save is key here.
We often buy on a whim – supermarkets and other stores are geared to getting us to spend more than we intend. If you want to save money in 2017, then it’s about time you got smart. Here are some suggestions to do just that:
* Plan your meals for the week and what groceries you need.
* Make a list and do one big shop rather than several small ones. Keep to your list and refuse to be enticed by something different on the shelf that looks nice.
* Buy in bulk where you can. Big packs of tea or coffee and basics such as pasta are much cheaper in the long run if you purchase the large ones.
- For instance, a pack of 40 PG Tips Teabags cost £1.29 which works out at 3.2 pence a bag. A pack of 240 costs £4.00 which is 1.6 pence per bag. That’s a big saving in the long run.
As we always say, getting the best deal is always a good way of making a saving or two, that includes shopping for those big purchases. Never make a decision to buy in the heat of the moment and always give yourself a while to cool off and check your finances before you do.
Cut Down on Wasteful Practices
Finally, make a commitment to cut down on waste. That food you have in the fridge? Use it all up. Leftovers? Freeze them for another day. Lights? Turn them off when you aren’t using them. There are plenty of personal changes to your habits that you can make which will reduce your outlay, cut down on your grocery and utility bills and save you money over the year.
If you have managed to save up some money or want to put part of your monthly salary away for the future and get a good return, there are numerous investment plans and opportunities available nowadays.
With any investment, you need to do your research first and make sure that it fits with what you want to achieve before you go ahead and give your money over. You should also be looking at investing for the long-term rather than hoping to achieve short term gains. With that in mind, here are our top choices for investing in 2017:
1. Switch to a High Interest Current Account
If you want your money available as and when you need it but also want to get some interest back, then a number of banks like Santander and Nationwide offer high interest accounts. You should only be going for this if you have a substantial amount in your account at the end of each month. Many of these offer interest rates of around 3% for balances over £1,500 to £2,500. Certain conditions do apply, however, and you may feel you may be better off putting a set amount of money away in a separate savings plan.
2. Use Your ISA Allowance
One of the most readily available and simple investment options is to open up an ISA. You are allowed to invest £15,240 a year currently in one of these packages. There are a number of different types to choose from including cash or stocks and shares ISAs. The good news is that you can split your allowance between a number of different products.
Cash ISAs are like normal savings accounts and you don’t pay tax on the interest you earn. The interest rate is normally set at a particular rate. Stocks and shares ISAs allow you to invest in particular funds and decide how much risk you want to take on. There are other products such as the Help to Buy ISAs that allows you to build equity to purchase a home. While interest rates and earnings from ISAs remain fairly low at the moment, the tax advantages and the potential for long-term investment still make them a decent and reasonably secure proposition.
3. Put Money Into Your Pension
Another option is to boost your pension for retirement. Adding in extra can mean you get a greater pot of money when you finally finish work. This is a good idea if you want to take the long view and don’t need to access your money until you have reached retirement age. You’ll have to decide whether your pension is the best vehicle to make the most of your money but it’s worth contacting your provider and working out the pros and cons.
4. Investing in Start Ups
If you have excess income and are looking for something that could have big returns but is a bit of a gamble then investing in new companies could be the way forward. There are a number of sites now that are designed to help new ideas get the funding they need to hit the market. If you invest in them you get to share in the success of the company. Of course, it’s not for the faint-hearted and you have to prepared to lose your money if the company doesn’t get off the ground.
5. Online Investing
The growth of online platforms that allow you to invest has been one of the major developments to come out of the financial industry in the last few years. Sites that give you more control of what you invest your money in can bring decent returns. Many assess what kind of investor you are and have plans ranging from cautious to the less risk adverse which means you can often earn more interest than with other investment options. Like any investment activity, of course, you should do thorough research and make sure you know what the risks are.
If you’re heading into 2017 with a renewed resolve that you’re going to save money this year, we’ve got some great news. There are some easy to implement strategies that you can start right now which will help reduce your outgoings and leave more money in your pocket at the end of each month.
Keep on Top of Your Spending
Here’s an idea: For the first month of the year, track everything you spend down to the last penny. Drill deep into your spending habits and then look at all the ways you can save money. Do you have a gym membership that you don’t even use? Did you fill up at the petrol station more than you thought? Are you spending too much on food that just gets thrown away?
You’ll be surprised how many little things add up to a big amount impacting your monthly budget. Little changes here and there can make a difference to how much you have left at the end of the month. Regular monitoring of how and where you spend money gives vital feedback that can make you less likely to get your debit card and spend. Try it and see how much you save.
There are always better deals to be had if you want to cut down your monthly bills. First of all, those utility providers can take a significant amount out of our bank accounts. Get yourself on a utility swap site and see who’s offering a better deal – then change supplier or negotiate a better one. The same can be said for your TV, broadband and telephone, your bank account and insurance. They could all be costing more than they should.
Shop Smarter Online
Many of us like to shop online nowadays but we’re often too quick to press the buy button without realising the consequences. For example, companies like Amazon have what is called dynamic pricing. That means the price of any product can vary from day to day. While that means waiting a few days or so can lower the cost of a cheap product by just a few pence, with larger buys you could be getting much bigger savings. Our advice is to hold off buying immediately and track whether the price changes.
Build an Emergency Fund
One of the big things that stops us saving is having an immediate problem. The car might breakdown, the washing machine stops cycling, the heating dies or some other dramatic occurrence. Saving up an emergency fund that you can call on when you need it means that your monthly finances aren’t affected and you don’t need to go running to a pay day loan company or your credit card to get things fixed.
Being greener can save you money. Swap those existing CFL bulbs for LED ones and you could save as much as 30% on your lighting bill. Turn off your appliances and don’t leave them on standby and you could save a small but significant amount over the year. Putting in better insulation and lowering your thermostat can reduce your heating bills for a long time to come. Installing a water butt in your garden can save on water if you have a metered supply. Using up all your groceries rather than throwing them away can also save you money in the long run.
There’s plenty of things you can do to change your personal habits that combine big savings on what you have to shell out during the month and reducing your impact on the environment. The time you need to spend on this is minimal and anyone can do it. All those little changes are worth it and you will see an impact as the months roll on and hopefully there will be more in the pot for your summer holiday or Xmas.