The new year is a time for a fresh start. This is when we can all start thinking about the parts of our lives that we would like to change and the things that we would like to do better. While many of our resolutions tend to be focused on lifestyle changes, such as eating better, getting more exercise, and learning a new language, there is one area that we should all be paying particular attention to in the coming year: our finances.
Over the last couple of years, we have all felt the squeeze when it comes to our bank accounts, and there are plenty of signs that things are going to be tough for a little while longer yet. With rising energy costs, rising taxes and the continued impact of Brexit still being felt, this is the perfect time to start getting into some better financial habits. If you are feeling like you are not sure where to start, we have put together a few essential tips to help you watch what you are spending, save a little more, and take a firmer grip of your bank account.
Make A Financial Plan
To start with, think about where you want to be in the next few months or by the end of the year. Do you have a specific target that you are working towards? Is there something big that you are working towards, such as buying a new home (which should hopefully be more achievable this year)? Setting a goal may seem like a big decision but it means that you will have something to work towards. Even if you do not have a big number in mind, it is a good idea to think about how much money you can be setting aside for your savings every month.
Do Your Numbers More Regularly
When you are rushed off your feet, it is always easy to find an excuse not to sit down with your finances. There is always a more pressing issue, another urgent problem that you need to solve. If you are someone who gets a little anxious about checking your bank balance, this can quickly become a habit. Needless to say, if you are worried about your spending and how much you are bringing in, this is a bad pattern of behaviour to get into. Try to make sure that you are looking at your bank statement at least once a week. Look at where your money is going and look for any transactions that you do not recognise. Identify those recurring costs that you can cut from your budget and see how you can make those tougher weeks a bit easier.
Look For Ways That You Can Earn Extra Cash
Right now, we are all looking for ways that we can earn cash online, and it is not always easy to find ways to get that extra bump to your paycheque. However, there are always things that you can do and offers that you can take advantage of to bring a little more money in every month. Think about whether you could use any of your skills for a side hustle or freelancing. Look at those impulse purchases that you made over the last two years and see if you could bring some extra cash in by reselling them online. Think about taking advantage of offers online that will give you a reward bonus for signing up or for referring a friend. Take you for mobile phone plan, for instance. Lebara offers a refer and earn scheme that could earn you up to £50 per referral and get your friend 50% off their plan for three months. Lebara offers a range of great SIM-only plans with no strings attached and no nasty shocks waiting for you at the end of the month.
Start Investing For Your Future
We all know that we should be saving more for our retirement. We have all seen those articles that tell us that the best time to start putting money away for the future would have been a few years ago, and that we need to start saving properly as soon as possible. However, with things going the way they have been recently, it has not always been easy to make sure that we are making regular deposits into that savings account. There are plenty of causes for concern when it comes to your pension and inflation right now. If you want to start saving more proactively and investing for your future, then the first thing that you should do is look at what kind of pension plan your employer offers.
Many companies offer a contribution matching scheme, and this is definitely something that you should take advantage of if it is available. You could download a personal finance app that will help you to make the same contribution into your savings account every month. When it comes to making investments as part of your retirement plan, the most important thing to remember is that you should never put all of your eggs in one basket.
Make Sure That Your Insurance Is Up To Date
It is one thing to make sure that we are saving for the future, but it is also important to make sure that we are covering ourselves in case of a rainy day. We do not need to tell you that the last couple of years have felt like nothing but rainy days, but you do not want to find yourself in a difficult situation and realise that you are going to have to pay for everything.
Insurance is one of those essential costs that you really cannot get around, but you also need to ensure that it not only covers everything, but that it is up to date. If your information does not account for any recent changes then you may find that your provider is unwilling to pay out. With that in mind, the start of the year is a great time to go through all of your different policies and go through the information with a fine-toothed comb. It may time to upgrade your policy or take out a new one entirely.