The right time to start sorting your finances is always the present, though many of us are guilty of delaying and procrastinating because we just don’t want to deal with, well, any of it.
There’s no question that our financial attitudes are linked to our emotions, which is why feelings about our money can range from stress and anxiety to total denial.
Not this year: in 2021, we’re going to take a proactive approach, using the many (free) digital tools available to help us get organised for the year ahead. One of the best ways to freshen up your finances is to start approaching them with intentions and goals, rather than in a panic or as an afterthought.
Whether the goal is to save for something big, to stop spending unnecessarily, to make our hard-earned cash work harder for us or just to enjoy some occasional splurges, we’ve got a seven-step plan so those finances can get a boost. Read on for tips and ideas on how to save and get organised for the year ahead.
Take stock of where you are
Before you can make any real changes to your financials, or start to trim your spending, you need to figure out what your balance sheet looks like. Check that you know exactly where your money is going by combing through your earnings, account statements and credit card bills.
You may notice some things are amiss - like why you’re still paying for a magazine subscription to an old address you haven’t lived at for a couple of years - or have a direct debit you forgot to cancel even though you only meant to sign up for a free trial.
Use online tools to find better deals
While comparing the cost of services like energy and utilities, home and car insurance used to be a bit of a hassle, in 2021, there’s no reason to get caught out by overpaying for something when finding deals online is a process that takes mere minutes.
Not sure where to start? Embrace the meerkat mentality with Compare the Market’s online Bills Calculator: Simply answer a few questions and it will tell you what people in your area are paying for the broadband, energy and home contents insurance. You can continue on with a full comparison to see a range of alternative deals from different providers. You may be able to start saving with one easy switch.
Be honest about your financial behaviour
Emotional spending is real and with a pandemic raging, many of us may be coping by purchasing (note: watch out for excess spending, often done in the evening or early morning hours).
Find the triggers that always get you - social media ads, seasonal sales, payday splurges - and actively change your behaviour when it comes to making non-essential purchases. Clearing credit card details from your devices or unsubscribing from marketing emails could help to create a better template for your finances in the year ahead, as well as preventing any extraneous spending that you’ll later feel guilty about from happening.
Have a savings goal in mind
Freshening up your finances really works when you have a clear goal in mind: study after study has found that goal-setting not only helps you save at a faster rate, it ultimately saves you more.
So, whether it’s a getaway, a house you’ve been saving for or a car that you’ve got your eyes on for 2021, keep your goal front of mind (and front of face - visuals like pictures and Post-Its have been shown to work, too).
Making the goal as specific as possible is also encouraged. And try linking it to other benefits, e.g. if I invest in an e-bike, I’ll be doing my bit for the environment, and helping improve my fitness...
Compare, compare, compare
Compare the Market helps you tackle your household admin, by giving you quotes from a variety of utilities and insurance providers. By comparing quotes across home and motor insurance products as well as broadband, energy tariffs and financial products such as credit cards, mortgages, loans, current accounts and saving accounts, you may be able to save hundreds of pounds if you make a switch. Compare the Market also lets you compare across pet insurance, life insurance and mobile phone packages.
Top tip: Don’t auto-renew, which could result in you paying extra unnecessarily; check out other offers instead.
AutoSergei can also be put to use to reduce the burden of life admin. He’ll do all the legwork when it comes to automatically checking for deals on your car and home insurance before you need to renew, searching new energy deals that can help you save, and even helps you find credit cards that are right for you, without harming your credit score.
You can also check your current broadband speed against different providers in your area and helps you look for a better deal (click here). This can be essential for improving your home internet connection, saving a lot of hassle, especially if you’re working from home.
Use money management apps
The digitisation of our finances has meant that it’s never been easier to keep tabs on our money or to start saving. We can also benefit from more sophisticated financial advice without having to pay a fortune for it.
Compare the Market’s Meerkat app can link to your accounts so you can look after your bills and money in one place. You can also see whether your payments are reducing or increasing, to help you start saving.
Automate your savings
One of the easiest - and most impactful - steps you can take to ensure your finances are in a healthier place is to always be saving. While this can be an arduous task if you’re trying to save different amounts each week or month, especially if you’d rather buy something, it’s effortless when you set up an automatic transfer from your current account to your savings, so money will be accruing all the time.
Some banking apps like Starling and Monzo have “round up” features, which let you put extra money into a special virtual savings pot, which also ensure you’re saving as you spend.
Meerkat Your Bills, Meerkat Your Life with Compare the Market’s online comparison tools