Unleash the party poppers and raise a toast: the new year is almost upon us! But if you’re using the last few weeks of December decadence as an excuse for putting off some good financial habits then, well, you might be missing a trick. Picking up a few healthy financial habits now while the festive season is still upon us could give you the boost that you need. It will also mean that you don’t have to start from scratch come January, and it can be a good way to pressure-test your resolutions before deciding which ones deserve to be stuck with.
Realistically, your new year’s resolutions should be tailored to your own financial goals – so we suggest having a think about what those might be before deciding what to try. However, here are a few of our top suggestions to get you started:
Do a credit check
If you want an understanding of how other people-specifically lenders-see your financial situation then a credit check is essential. It’s so easy to put this off until it’s time to make a real difference to your score. Get your credit report now (MoneySavingExpert offers this service free, as do a number of others), take stock of your spending habits and use this as a springboard for deciding what needs to change.
Use cash over cards
For people that find it difficult to avoid impulse purchases, a cash budget can be an excellent way to curb spending. It requires a bit of forward planning, but by limiting yourself to a certain amount of fixed spending you essentially force yourself to stop going over budget. Try it when you hit the shops for Christmas presents or go to a festive party.
Begin to track your spending
Quick: how much money did you spend on eating out over the last twelve months? What about fancy coffees? No, it’s not a trick question – this is something that you would actually know if you decided to track your spending. You can use financial software to automate the process or do it yourself in a spreadsheet; some banks also offer tracking features through their apps.
Switch your bank account
Fancy a quick boost? Switching your bank account can often come with rewards such as tech gifts or extra cash – and you might be able to get an account that offers ongoing rewards such as cashback on your monthly bill payments, too. So long as you follow the golden rules of only switching to an account if it offers what you need and has a reasonable reputation for service, you can’t really go wrong. Make sure you’re aware of any conditions for getting your free gift, such as paying a certain amount into the account within the first month.
Build your financial education
A lot of people feel out of their depth when it comes to making financial decisions. While you might not have learned much about money in school, there’s no reason not to start building your knowledge. Reading a blog like this is a great place to start, but you could also delve into podcasts or books. Why not take a look on Amazon, find a book that catches your fancy and stick it on your Christmas list. Well, it beats socks!