As we start each New Year, setting goals to achieve for the year has become part of our culture. That can be to eat healthy, improve fitness, save money, or take that dreamed for trip. New habits are not easily formed overnight and can be hard to stick to, but remember whatever your goal, you can do it!
Set a goal and make a plan
Budgets are a great way to show where you can start reducing your monthly spend and provide a good guide on where you could make improvements. Setting a budget can be restrictive and sometimes downright depressing but knowing where your money goes is the first step. When setting a budget, you need to include budgeting for a range of things, not just your monthly spend. Try to remember all your quarterly and annual costs like kids sport fees, back to school costs, MOT, and birthdays. Check out our other blog post for top tips to create a budget that you can stick to.
When looking to improve your finances, taking control of your spending and making savings is the next step to feeling more in control. A good place to start is your subscriptions, can you get a better deal for your broadband/TV? How much value you get from your gym subscription and if there is a cheaper way to exercise that suits your lifestyle? Magazines, and newspapers are small monthly costs but have significant yearly costs, as is getting better deals on your insurances and utilities. There are loads of comparison sites to help you find the best deal for all your essential bills and additional costs. If you can save just £20 per month on all your subscriptions and essential bills, that adds up to £240 over a year.
Food and household products can be a massive factor in your household budget. Why not prepare a weekly meal plan. Sitting down before you do the weekly shop with the household calendar, so you know who’s in for dinner. Will you just want something quick before gym class? Or is a friend coming over for dinner? Factor this information into your weekly meal plan.
Check your cupboards and only put down what you need on the weekly shopping list. There are loads of cheap and easy recipes online and meal plan ideas that help you use up all the ingredients you buy. With ideas of how to finish of the broccoli from Monday nights sausage & mash with a quick stir fry on Thursday. Check out our other blog with loads of ideas and links on how to reduce your household spend.
Including extra money in your budget for birthdays and events is a key part to ensure you take control of your spending. Using cash on a night out, buying a present, card, and wrapping paper with cash also makes sure you can stick to your budget. Taking advantage of Christmas sales to buy presents for birthdays for the coming year or next Christmas is very tempting, and you can make a saving this way. But its important to still stick to your budget and not hide the presents so well you forget you have them!
We have all heard about the “latte” factor, cutting out your daily takeaway coffee, or making sure you make lunch for work to save money. These are all tried and tested ways to cut down your spending and can make a difference. To help stick to it, buying a coffee syrup online to add to your homemade coffee, and a travel mug, so you can still sip it in the car on the way to work make the change more palatable. You can mix up lunch for work with soups, salads, and keeping a noodle pot in your desk draw to help resist the temptation of buying lunch. Keeping track of what you would have spent over a month or putting half of that money you would have spent to a savings or luxury purchase can help keep the momentum going and show you how your small changes are making a difference.
Changing your daily finances is not going to happen overnight, and you can’t expect to stop living just to save money. There will a cheeky take-way even though you have something to throw in the oven, a birthday that you forgot to budget for. Accepting that you didn’t stick to the plan, but you will try better the next day is all part of making a long-lasting change. It can be really tempting to look at your finances and try to cut our all non-essentials and save some serious money but depriving yourself of all luxuries is no way to live. Cutting down on a few luxuries, for example only a takeaway coffee on a Friday, or eating out every other week can make a difference to your spending. Remember to review your spending in 3- or 6-months’ time and looking to make more smaller changes. You will be surprised at how far you have come by 2020!