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How to make 2018 your best financial year yet

In this article, we’ll look at some of the bad money habits you can shed and the new approaches you can take to make 2018 your best financial year to date.
By Editorial on Feb 6th, 2018   @freelotteriesuk

When it comes to money, there are certain things that are beyond our control. The state of the UK economy for instance, or the rate of pay rises in the public sector. But there are also a huge number of factors you have complete control over which can help to shape your financial future for the year ahead.

In this article, we’ll look at some of the bad money habits you can shed and the new approaches you can take to make 2018 your best financial year to date.

Introduce the ‘no-spend’ weekend

The idea of a no-spend weekend probably doesn’t fill you with much joy, but this type of no-frills weekend can be the exception rather than the rule. All too often, we spend the entire weekend spending. When we’re out socialising with friends some expense is unavoidable, but we also have those lazy weekends when friends are busy, the weather is lousy and we fancy some quality time spent on the sofa. These are the weekends that can become your no-spend weekends.

Rather than starting the weekend with a Friday night takeaway, why not cook enough food for Friday and Saturday night to resist the temptation? Instead of heading to the shops, you can spend the day walking, exploring your local area or doing that DIY job you’ve been putting off for the last three months. Come Monday morning, you’ll be well rested and your bank account will have enjoyed a much-needed break.

Save a little every month

The best way to save money is little and often. Setting aside a small amount every month is painless because it’s money you won’t miss. Whether you’re saving for a holiday or building a safety net for the future, simply setting up a direct debit every month for an amount you can comfortably afford will soon build a tidy sum.

There are a number of banks and building societies that allow you to save small amounts in regular savings accounts, with minimum payments of as little as £25, £50 or £100. Alternatively, if you’re happy to accept a little risk then a stocks and shares ISA could increase your return.

Avoid debt if you can

Living in debt is all too common these days, but the stress that comes with it and the money that’s being wasted in interest payments means if you can avoid it, you really should. If at any time during the year you’re thinking of going into debt to make a purchase, ask yourself two questions:

  • Do I really need it?
  • Can I pay for it outright?

Nothing will put a bigger dent in your finances than going into debt. In certain cases, a debt may be unavoidable. For example, if the car or boiler breaks down and there are no savings you can use to get it repaired. However, you should still be extremely careful about the type of debt financing you choose as the costs can vary dramatically.

Re-evaluate your expenditure

All too often, we simply accept our essential monthly expenditure as something we cannot change. But while some payments may be unavoidable, you could still be paying way over the odds. The start of the year is a great time to look at your monthly expenditure afresh. For example…

  • How much is your monthly mobile phone payment? If you’ve been on the same contract for more than a year then you could almost certainly find it cheaper elsewhere.
  • How long have you been with your current utility providers? Again, if you’ve been on the same deal for more than a year then you’re almost certainly paying too much.
  • What about your car? Rather than a car finance or leasing deal, would it represent better value to buy a car outright?
  • Are you buying lunch and coffee during the week? Think about how much you could save if you cut out this expenditure over the course of a month.

Any changes you think you could make you should explore right away. Strike now while the iron’s hot and you could make big savings.

Set new goals

The start of the year is the perfect time to reflect on how far you’ve come over the past year, to celebrate your accomplishments and set new financial goals for the year ahead. If you’re saving for a mortgage then perhaps 2018 is the year you finally have enough for that elusive deposit, or when you can afford all those improvements to your home.

Studies have shown that savers who are working to long-term goals are much more likely to:

  • Be satisfied with their personal finances
  • Spend less of their income
  • Have no difficulty making ends meet
  • Have set aside an emergency fund

But long-term goals in isolation are not particularly effective. You also need to break them down into achievable short-term goals so it doesn’t become overwhelming.

Keep your eye on the prize

And there you have it – five steps you can take to help you make 2018 your best financial year yet. All you need is some willpower and a few hours you can set aside to set up a savings account and review your existing expenses then you’ll be well on the way to achieving your goals.

Mike Smith is an insolvency expert for Companydebt.com.