The ushering in of a new year brings a new set of expectations and goals to stick to. In this article, we cut through the noise with 5 personal finance tips to help you set up for a financially successful year!
‘Ignore’ your pay rise with an ISA
If you got promoted or a pay rise last year, you could fall prey to ‘lifestyle creep’. Lifestyle creep is the expense of your lifestyle creeping up with an increase in your take home pay. Getting used to the increased amount you earn each month is all too easy. Opening an ISA and transferring the excess you’ve recently started earning is a great way to make sure you don’t spend it, and to see returns on your contributions. Make money off your saving habit.
However, with the cost-of-living crisis in full swing, an increase in pay might be in proportion to the increase of…everything else. Everyone’s situation will be different, and rewarding yourself for a well-earned promotion is important too. Take a couple of months to figure out how far your money goes and if you have any excess, consider opening an ISA to contribute to – it's one of the most tax-efficient ways to invest.
Make credit cards work for you
Putting as much spending as possible on a reward card is a smart way to take advantage of the rewards they offer. The hard part is finding the credit card that reimburses you in the kind of rewards you want, whether it’s nectar points, Amex Avios or cash back. If you’re organised with your money and can put the money aside to pay off your credit card balance in full each month, it can be ‘free money’.
Working out which card is best for you requires some research. MoneySavingExpert put together a very thorough guide to help you decide which credit card works best for you. Whichever credit card you decide on, remember to pay it off in full each month. Create a pot or an account called ‘pay credit card’, and always have enough to pay it off up front. Also remember that having a large balance due on a credit card can affect your credit score and future mortgage applications.
Delete shopping apps and apply the 48-hour rule
A lot of money gets invested into shopping apps to make you buy more, more than you usually would. Notifications, emails, early sale access, these apps are designed and engineered to push you into buying. Not only is deleting them a good idea for your financial wellbeing, but also for your mental health. Trust us, Klarna is not your friend. Another tip to make meaningful purchases online and ultimately buy less is by considering any online purchase for 48 hours before buying. Features like next day delivery deliberately hasten people into making impulsive purchases. Having a cool off period lets you take back control and make conscious decisions about your spending. You could even transfer the amount you were going to spend into a savings account during that time, to see which makes you feel better. Either way, being in control of your spending is a lot easier without invasive shopping apps.
Consider your employment options
Getting a better job with a higher salary is something that could make a huge impact on your overall financial life. It’s worth evaluating your options and enquiring at your current role if there’s opportunities for promotion or pay rise. If you do get a significant pay rise from an employment change, try and put the difference into an investment account. As they say, the best way to save is to increase your income.
Don’t put too much financial pressure on yourself
This might sound like a counterproductive tip, but there’s a lot of pressure on people to have their financial situation completely together. Right now, is a very difficult time for a lot of people with inflation and the cost-of-living crisis eating away at expendable income and pushing people into debt. It’s difficult to adjust to the newly increased cost of the essentials, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re not saving as much as you’d like to each month. It’s important to strive for financial stability, but not at the expense of your quality of life and happiness. There are plenty of resources online to help you cope with financial worries; be sure to check them out.
There’s a balance to be made between enjoying your life and preparing for the future. Breathe. And if you’re looking for a professional perspective for more ways to make the most of your money, feel free to reach out to our team on open-money.co.uk