It’s a new year, and there’s no better time to make a new set of resolutions to see you through 2019. Each of us have our own individual resolutions, from being healthier to travelling more, but there is one resolution we can all share – getting our finances into shape.
Now is the perfect month to look at organising or improving your finances for the year ahead – I know it’s something I’ll be focusing on in my quest to shape up my money!
Here are 10 New Year’s financial resolutions we can all think about for 2019:
Set your financial goal for the year. This could be whatever is important to you and your life, whether that’s reducing debt, saving more money, or building up your pension. Set your goal and work out the steps you need to take to achieve it. My goal this year will be to finish saving for my house deposit and applying for mortgage, so I am putting together a savings plan to make sure it happens.
Become more organised. Sort through all of your paperwork, and file anything important into a folder. If you’ve gone paperless then save any important PDFs into a folder on your computer so you can access them easily. That way, if you need to check anything or contact a provider, everything is to hand.
Budget and track your spending to make the most of your pay packet each month, as it’s always pretty grim if you get to the end of the month and wonder where all your cash has gone. Set a spending budget and try to stick to it. I’ve been using me&mymoney, a nifty little app which safely links to your bank and savings accounts and tracks your spending against your budget.
Manage your debt by taking stock of what debts you have. Which is your priority debt? Is there anything you can pay off in one go with savings? Tackle your priority debts first and take it from there. If you have any credit cards, look at switching them to a 0% on balance transfers or spending deal. Or, if you are already on a promotional deal, check when it ends and stick a note in your calendar to do a balance transfer before.
Consider insurance. The older I get, especially after having a baby, the more I want to prepare for any potential financial disasters, like redundancy or long-term illness. Income protection insurance could help me in this scenario, so it’s something I’ll be looking into this year. Well worth a read is The Money Advice Service’s article on income protection insurance, which helps clarify whether insurance is a worthwhile addition to your life
Consolidate your pension. Most of us have pension pots sitting with previous employers and doing nothing, so it’s a good idea to get them all into one place. I’ve been using PensionBee to consolidate all my old pensions into one pot, which has been a straightforward way to organise my various pension pots.
Money saving opportunities. Look at your spending in the previous year and work out where you could cut back. This could be switching your food shop to a budget supermarket, haggling or switching your gym membership, or switching your utilities to a provider offering a better deal.
Save a fixed amount of money each month and stick to it. Even if you’re not saving for anything in particular, money put away will give you a greater feeling of financial security, plus the money is there for any unexpected expenses or financial lows. Apparently, you’re meant to have six month’s salary saved for a rainy day, but that isn’t feasible for everyone. Just save what you can, even if it’s £20 a month. Squirrel it away in the highest interest savings account that you can find. Saving rates are ridiculously low – as we all know – but it’s worth a look around to see what’s what. Money Supermarket have a nifty comparison tool for the latest savings rates.
Check you’ve got the best deal on your utilities by finding and comparing the best prices around. It’s super-easy to switch and you could shave hundred’s off your annual bill.
Stop comparing your finances to everyone else’s. I’ve found that people in a good financial situation like to tell me all about how they’ll be mortgage free in a few years and their amazing retirement package, and in the past it’s made me feel a little inadequate. Just remember, you are doing what you can manage, so ignore everyone else and do what’s right for you.
Most of us will have made a few financial mistakes last year, myself included! But 2019 is a fresh start, and a few small changes could make a real difference to your finances now and in the years ahead.