10 Easy Resolutions to Conquer Your Finances

Most of us enter the New Year with great intentions of getting on top of our finances, but as the tinsel is packed away and the Christmas credit card bills start landing, that enthusiasm can wither like leftover sprouts.

Tick off these ten easy steps to sail into the New Year free of financial fuss:

Get organised

  1. Track every penny you spend for at least a week, ideally a full month. Are you still paying Direct Debits that should have expired months ago? Are you buying newspapers and magazines singly when a subscription would be better value? Whether you download an app, keep a receipts file or fall back on good old handwritten lists, accounting for all of your outgoings can be a real eye-opener when it comes to where your money goes. And once you know what you’re currently spending…

  2. Set – and stick to – a monthly budget. Keep tracking your spending to make sure you’re in line with your budget. Including a regular savings contribution early in the month will also help build a savings habit – and a tidy sum.

  3. Use the discounts and allowances you already have. If you have an employee benefits package, look out for discounts on everything from gym memberships and cinema tickets to health insurance and your weekly shop. Contribute to an ISA to use your tax-free allowance before the new financial year begins in April. If you’re married, use your Marriage Allowance to ensure you’re both using your full personal tax allowances.

Make simple switches

  1. Transfer any credit card balances to a 0% interest rate card and, if you can, set up regular payments to clear the balance before the 0% rate ends.

  2. Check the interest rate on your savings account. There may be a better deal available elsewhere.

  3. Take a fresh look at your recurring payments. Whether it’s your mobile phone, TV and broadband package, insurances, utilities or your mortgage, it’s easy to stick with a provider long after favourable introductory offers end. You might be able to switch to a cheaper deal, and if not, you can set yourself a reminder of when your rate is due to rise, allowing you to shop about when the time comes.

  4. Stop and think before you spend. Instead of flicking on the heating, could you put on a warmer jumper? Could you install dimmers and timers instead of leaving the lights on, or hop on to public transport rather than taking a car or a taxi? Making small, conscious choices can see savings mount up, and also help regain a sense of control after the financial excesses of the festive season, making you more likely to keep working on your larger goals.   

Prepare today, prosper tomorrow

  1. Review your retirement plans. Are they on track? Do you have a plan in place? If not, now’s the time to start.

  2. Pep up your pension. If you have multiple employer pensions, take expert advice on whether to consolidate them and how to maximise your income in retirement with initiatives such as salary sacrifice.

  3. Protect what’s important. We don’t like to think of the worst happening, but we can give ourselves peace of mind in case it does. If you don’t yet have life insurance in place, premiums are cheaper the earlier you put cover in place. Preparing a will can help make sure your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone.

By setting and committing to your intentions at the start of the year, you can transform how you feel about your finances and make sure you’re living in line with your personal priorities. Maybe this is the year you shop about for an affordable green energy supplier or switch your investment portfolio to better performing funds.

McCreas offer all prospective clients a free no obligation consultation, and can help you gain a better understanding of your finances, as well as advising on investment returns, tax allowances, pensions, retirement plans and much more.

Get in touch to set up your free appointment today and find financial clarity in 2020.