1. Make a budget and stick to it
Most of us have a budget, at least in theory, but few of us know exactly where our money goes and how much. The start of the year is the perfect chance create a budget sheet to calculate your monthly outgoings and track your spending. This will help you monitor where you can make cutbacks and how much more you can save. If you’re unsure of how to get started, Citizens Advice offers an online budgeting tool and the Money Advice Service also offers a money health check.
2. Get your credit into shape
Did you know that having a bad credit score could result in you paying more for other financial products such as a mobile phone contact? Research from aqua credit cards found that having a bad credit rating costs the average household an extra £1,170 a year. Don’t know your credit score? You’re not alone, aqua also found that 79 per cent of Brits have no idea what their credit rating is. Noodle, Experian and Equifax offers credit checks where you can monitor your score and get advice on how to improve it. Both offer a free 30-long trial, but remember to cancel before the end of that period to avoid a monthly fee.
3. Make the most of your savings account
When was the last time you checked your savings account? It’s easy to put money away and forget about it, and if you are one of the millions of people who have savings with a high street bank, then you could be losing hundreds of pounds a year in lost interest. Henderson Global Investors found there’s more than £370bn sat in cash accounts earning less than 0.4 per cent. Charter Savings Bank also found the average saver earned a measly £33 per year on their savings. So make sure you also check the challenger banks, as these are dominating the best buy tables and paying interest rates that top 2 per cent, which is over five times as much interest that some savers currently earn.
4. Make the most of your financial products
Insurance is one of those products that isn’t the most exciting purchase, but something that’s hugely beneficial. It’s worth checking with your provider whether you entitled to any discounts or perks. For example Tesco gives customers Clubcard points on home and content insurance. Age UK and Policy Expert automatically increases your cover by 10 per cent during events and holidays like Christmas or a wedding. Vitality also rewards health and life insurance members for being healthy by offering half-price Virgin Active gym membership, free cinema tickets, free weekly Starbucks drinks and discounts on BA flights.
5. Bring a packed lunch to work
You’d be amazed at how much money you could save by bringing your own lunch into work each day. Vouchercloud recently found 62 per cent of Brits spend £1,840 year buying lunches, that’s the equivalent to £8 per day. Whereas, the average person who makes their own lunch at home spends £552 a year on it, which means you could save more than £1,000 a year!
6. Get on your bike
Travelling to work can be expensive and for those who live within walking or cycling distance, it’s really worth taking advantage of this. Not only will it be cheaper but it could save you hours in time too. The TUC found the average commute is now more than two hours long! If you have no option other than to get the train, then check whether your workplace offers a season ticket loan. Buying a season ticket could save you hundreds of pounds each year and comes straight out of your pay cheque.
7. Expand your financial knowledge
If you want to save those pennies and make the most of each pound, then understanding your finances is a good starting point. Whether it’s your pension, general savings or mortgages, there’s lots of websites to help you. You can also sign up to the Open University’s Managing My Money course in partnership with Share Radio. Not only will you learn about your finances, you’ll also get a certificate at the end of the course. The best part is… it’s free!
8. Pay in cash and save the change
Like most, watching your cash grow will encourage you to save even more. Try paying for items in cash and save your loose change. You’d be surprised at how much you can save over the year. Paying in cash can also save you money. You could challenge yourself by withdrawing £10-£20 on a Monday morning and ensure it lasts the full working week.
9. Don’t have any regrets
Ever heard your grandparents say they wish they had saved more? Well, don’t let that be you! The Share Centre recently found that more than a quarter of those in their 60s admit their biggest financial regret, is not saving when they were younger. If you want to live a comfortable retirement then start saving now, however little. Aegon found that someone saving a little as £20 a month at 25 could end up with a pension pot £10,000 larger than someone who started saving the same amount at 35, despite only contributing £2,400 more.
10. Reward yourself
A budget shouldn’t be treated as a yo-yo diet. You still need to have a treat or two and you’ll be more likely to succeed in the long run if you do so (within reason, of course). Try going out for dinner once every few weeks, or buying that outfit at the end of the month. You’ll feel better for doing so and you won’t feel as though you’re really missing out.
Thanks to Share Radio’s Consumer Champion, Georgie Frost - Presenter of Consuming Issues daily show.
- There are more money-saving tips in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.