January 1st is behind us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still make a new year’s resolution, especially if that resolution is to improve your financial health.
There is never a bad time to take steps to boost your bank balance, but recent research from Fidelity Investments shows that people who make the decision at the start of the year have more success than those who do it in the summer. Be specific when you’re making your resolution, whether it’s to be able to book an overseas holiday by a particular date, to pay off a debt, or to boost your savings account by a certain amount before next New Year’s Eve.
The first, and often most difficult place to start, is not with what you want, but with what you have. Go through your bank statement to account for each debit you have made. Keep a money diary for a week or two, writing down everything you spend, to the last penny. It is not easy to save money if you don’t know where your money is going. You might find that simply being more conscious of how you are spending will help you curb your expenses, but at the very least it will give you a clear picture of your financial state.
Look for Savings
Once you know where your money is being spent, you can search for places to cut back. Are you incurring overdraft fees because your direct debits come out at the wrong time of month? Check to see if you are paying for insurance premiums for items you no longer have or need to insure.
Make a note of all your regular payments, such as phone, utilities, and internet, and go onto a price comparison website to see if you can get a cheaper deal. If you owe money to several creditors, look into combining these into one loan with a lower interest rate.
Loyalty points can be used to save money on anything from holidays to meals out. Make life simple by uploading membership information onto a handy app that will save you from carrying a wallet full of cards around. Sign up for regular emails with your favourite retailers and restaurants so you are notified of any deals, and check out voucher websites before you spend.
You don’t have to get a second job to earn more money. Start with your bank and see if they offer cashback incentives for paying your bills via direct debit. Cashback websites are another handy source of additional income, especially if you are going to switch providers. Finally, shop around for the bank account that pays the most interest on your hard earned savings.
You will be surprised at how making just a few simple changes can quickly add up to a much healthier bank balance.