Two experts give their top tips on how you can manage your money better - find out why you shouldn’t make a financial decision on a Friday, and why a flask should be on your Christmas list...
1) Check your credit rating and your credit file
Check your credit rating and your credit file. This can be done at no cost and you may find there is erroneous information on your file which is hitting your credit rating and affecting your access to loans and/or the interest rate you get charged when borrowing
2) Switch utility providers
Get into the switching habit for utilities, internet providers and financial services (this particularly applies to current accounts). Switching isn’t as much of a hassle as you might think and can really help household finances.
3) Save, save, save
Make saving an essential ‘expenditure’ each month – just set up a direct debit that pays an amount into your savings account each month once you get paid. Do this rather than save what’s left in your bank account just prior to your next pay day because the odds are that you would, by that point, have spent what you intended to save!
4) Structure your spending
Structure your household spending into three categories - essentials, non-essentials and ‘essential non-essentials’ The latter are the things you don’t need to stay housed, healthy and well-fed but are the things you need to be able to afford to make life enjoyable – such as holidays, nights out, sports club membership etc. Then if you need to economise target the true non-essentials first and try to ring-fence the ‘essential non-essentials’. Ask yourself what your ‘essential non-essentials’ are.
5) Avoid Fridays and Mondays
Avoid making major financial decisions on Fridays and Mondays. On Fridays you may be in too much of a good mood to make well-judged decisions. On Mondays perhaps the reverse!
6) Pay off the credit cards
Give top priority to paying off credit card debts in the run up to Christmas. Credit cards are flexible and can be fairly cheap over the short-term, but are an expensive way to borrow if you let the debts drag on.
7) Small changes add up to big savings
Free up money to pay off debts by switching to cheaper options – eat more healthy meals in rather than costly (and fattening) meals out, carry home-brewed coffee in your own flask rather than buying expensive lattes every day, take packed lunches to work.
8) Get fit for free
Is your New Year’s Resolution getting fit? Think twice about the expensive gym subscription that locks you in for a year and ends up being barely used. Instead take up (free) walking, jogging or cycling and check out your (much cheaper) public swimming pool.
9) Have a money meeting
Never know where your money goes? Put a monthly meeting with yourself in the calendar when you will go through your income and spending. Keeping track lets you budget for the important things in life!
10) Keep track of insurance renewals
Mark on the 2017 calendar the renewal dates for car and home insurance and when any fixed-rate fuel deals come to an end. A fortnight before each date, make sure to shop around and switch provider if you can get a better deal.
11) Save for a holiday, don't buy on credit
Tempted by all those summer holiday ads that pop up from January onwards? Instead of buying now on credit, start saving regularly and then look for last-minute bargains nearer the time.
Tips 1 to 5 were provided by Martin Upton, Director of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance, and tips 6 to 11 were provided by Jonquil Lowe, Senior Lecturer in Economics and Personal Finance.
- You and Your Money – free personal finance course on OpenLearn
- OpenLearn resources on Money Management