Hands up if at the beginning of the year you sit down and reassess what I like to call the New Year finances? Me too, although I do a monthly budget based on real-life happenings i.e. upcoming events and a quarterly bill review too. Keeping on top of your bills, checking your standing orders and direct debits and making sure that you know exactly what is coming in and out is the way to achieve your financial goals.
This year we’re all about our frugal living challenge. This challenge is about cutting back on waste, saving money, living a simpler life and as a result pouring more into our pensions and savings. As part of this challenge I started with a New New Finances check and here are some of things I had to consider and some that might be of interest to others.
List Your Outgoings, Now Slash Them
When was the last time that you checked your direct debit list on your online banking or looked properly at your spending? When assessing your New Year Finances this is the perfect time to cancel anything you pay for that you no longer need or want (magazine subscriptions are a prime example) and really look at where your pennies have been going to. Looking at mine, I spent far too much in the last quarter of the year buying coffees in town and food for lunch (from Co-op not takeaway) on the way to coworking. A friend gave me a reusable mug and I have a packed lunch so having seen what these habits were costing me, I’m starting new, more frugal habits,
Happy With Your Bank?
If you are happy with your banking set-up, keep on scrolling. If not, this section could be of interest to you. Switching banks has never been easier, with them doing all of the work for you. Here in Thirsk, several banks have closed down, making it difficult for those who do use branch-based banking. Luckily I already had my business accounts and saving with Nationwide so when the local branch of my bank closed, I simply switched all of my remaining banking over to them using the Earn £100 for Switching to Nationwide incentive. It was so easy and both me and my referrer earned ourselves a £100 bonus. I’m obviously happy to refer anyone interested to Nationwide in the same way but if NW isn’t for you, do consider your options. With so many banks and building societies around your bank should be working hard for you in order to retain your custom. If they aren’t, and if they cost you fees and charges you could avoid, consider switching elsewhere.
Here’s a tip for you, save first. We used to wait and see what was left at the end of the month and put that into savings but found that with that system, there was little left! Now we have a set savings amount built into our monthly budget and put that aside before anything else. If there’s more left at the end of the month, great. If not, at least you have put something away.
New Year Finances Debt Refinancing
If you have credit cards, debts and loans, this time of year is perfect for a New Year finance checkover. Check your credit rating on Experian or other secure systems, consider an online finance broker, speak to your bank or just shop around to make sure that you have the best deals possible. Debt needs to be paid off pronto and making minimum payments only maximises the amount you pay in interest. Make it easier to banish dead by looking at 0% balance transfers and better rates. Would this make a difference to you?
This is my super-tip for you. Instead of using your debit card for everything, use cash. You’ll be much more reluctant to part with it, for sure! I now withdraw a weekly amount for groceries and use only that. When it has gone, it’s gone. It’s only been a few weeks but already I’m saving money left, right and centre. I’m planning to extend this way of spending into other areas too. I’ll report back on how that goes!
New Year Finances: In Summary
Have you done a reassessment of your finances yet? It can be quite eye-opening and well worth the effort. It will enable you to set goals and save money. Take the time to have a look over your income and expenditure, you might be surprised by how much you’re paying out and it’s a good opportunity to call up certain companies and ask for a reduction. More about this in another post. Happy budgeting!