As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, all thoughts turn to resolutions. You may have vowed to get fit, quit smoking or to cut back on luxuries like takeaways on the weekend or a daily coffee run. And while these are all worthy resolutions to make, let’s face it – you’re probably not going to stick to them all.
Instead, why not use the New Year as an excuse to take a closer look at your finances and set some goals for the rest of the year and further beyond. To give you some inspiration, here are a few money-saving resolutions that you could think about making for 2016:
1. Create a budget
First things first, when it comes to having a clear out of your finances you need to make a budget. Doing this will give you a better idea of where your money is going to each month, and whether you’re spending it wisely.
It’s easy to start: simply write down what your overall income is every month including any benefits that you receive. Once you’ve done this, make a list of all of the things that you pay out each month, this is likely to include: rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, council tax, TV, phone and broadband, as well as food and other expenses like a gym membership or TV subscription.
Add up all of these expenses and subtract the total cost from what you make every month. Whatever you’re left with is what you have extra to spend. Try using this budget to monitor your spending every month, and think about reworking it if you’re constantly spending more in a certain area.
If you’d like help managing your budget, then you could consider the thinkmoney Personal Account. The account is an alternative to a basic bank account and comes with a monthly management fee of £17.50. You can read more about the account and its features here.
2. Cut down
Once you’ve got a budget, have a look and see if you could make cutbacks in any areas. If you’re still paying for a gym membership that you never use or have been saying that you’re going to cut back on smoking for the last couple of years, then this could be the year to take action.
When it comes to the little luxuries that you give yourself (e.g. a weekly takeaway), set yourself a spending limit for these so you don’t have to give up all fun spending. You don’t have to specify what you’re going to use this amount for, but having a figure in mind will help you to prioritise the treats that you give yourself. For example, you probably won’t have as many takeout coffees in the week if you know you’ll treat yourself to a takeaway on the Friday.
3. Shop around
If the amount you spend on your food shopping or on your phone bill every month is much higher than you’d like, it may be worth resolving to shop around for a better deal.
When it comes to food, use the price comparison site mySupermarket to find which store (or stores) provide you with the best value for money. Commit to making a shopping list before you head out to the shops or order online, and check the cupboards beforehand to ensure that you don’t buy duplicates.
You could take things a little further, by substituting some of the items that you buy for own-brand goods. Try this for a couple weeks and only keep buying the items that you like. You probably won’t be able to tell too much of a difference in terms of taste for a lot of items and you could cut down your shopping bill quite substantially.
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4. Avoid temptation
If you know that you have certain spending habits that can work against you, do everything that you can to cut out any temptation. For example, if you get bombarded with shopping emails telling you about various discounts then it may be worth considering unsubscribing from these mailing lists.
If you find that you’ll spend a little more if you have your credit card with you, then leave all plastic at home for one or two days a week and only use cash. You could even have ‘no spending days’ where you take your own packed lunch and challenge yourself not to spend anything other than the necessities that day – you’d be surprised at how much you could save by doing this.