Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at investment platform AJ Bell, comments:
“Every year we all pledge to quit drinking, join a gym and eat more healthily, but most New Year’s Resolutions fail by February. Instead of setting the same resolutions as last year, trying tackling your finances in 2019, starting from January, and make yourself a bit wealthier next year.
“While you won’t become a millionaire overnight, these tips and tricks will help you to set yourself up for a more prosperous 2019 – and, what’s more, most of them can be done with one hand while you eat Christmas leftovers with the other.”
Cancel those pricey subscriptions – On average people spend almost £650 a year on subscriptions that they don’t use or have forgotten they signed up to, according to Citizen’s Advice. Check your bank account to see what you’re paying for, cancel anything you’re not using or getting value from, and check to see if you can get other services for cheaper. Some companies deliberately make it hard to cancel, in the hope that you’ll give up – but persevere and focus on what you could spend that cash on instead.
Keep a money diary – Most people think they could save more or cut out some expenses, but don’t really know where to start. Money diaries have exploded in popularity, with people publishing on the internet tell-all accounts of how they spend their cash. You don’t have to open yourself up to this much public scrutiny, but keeping a diary of everything you spend for a week or two can reveal some honest truths about whether you’re wasting cash.
Set up your own Christmas Club – Many people get to January with a pile of debt or a depleted bank account after the pricey festive season – whether it’s present buying, going out socialising or doing the big shop for Christmas dinner. So start saving a pot now in preparation for next year. Put aside a small amount each week or month to give you less stress next Christmas. Not fussed about Christmas? This works for any other big expense in the year, a holiday, a new car or just a special night out.
Tackle boring life admin one month at a time – Boring, often time-consuming, tasks like switching bank account, checking on your pension or getting a cheaper energy contract are easy to push to the bottom of the to-do list. But if you aim to do just one thing a month it will seem less of a chore. Write a list for the year of all the things you’ve been putting off sorting out and tick one off a month.
Teach your kids, nieces, nephews, anyone young, about money – Many people end up putting off dealing with their finances because they find them too complicated and confusing, which largely stems from a lack of financial education and knowledge when they were younger. So stop that for the next generation! If you have children, set up a Junior ISA or savings account for them, but get them involved, take them along to open the account, and teach them about how interest works and growing money over time. Or buy your nieces or nephews a money box and show them how to save up some of their pocket money. It’s never too early to start.
And finally… Do the 1p savings challenge – A more fun one to build up a rainy day fund. Start on January 1st by saving 1p and then add 1p to the amount you save each day. On the first day you save 1p, the next you save 2p, the next 3p, and so on. If you keep it up, by the end of the year you’ll have almost £700 – a great pot of cash for some small luxuries or days out.