After the hangovers subside and everyone heads back to work, the reality of Christmas excess can hit you like a tonne of bricks! Like most people, I have eaten too much, certainly drunk too much and spent a fair bit of money on gifts and entertainment. However, as 2014 begins, we can all take stock and make some big financial resolutions that require minimum effort but will provide BIG rewards!
1. Sort out your mortgage
A mortgage is probably your BIGGEST monthly expense but also the place you can SAVE the most cash. Before mortgage rates start creeping back up, remortgage and get yourself on a low interest rate. No matter how much equity you have in your home, there WILL be better deals, especially if you are languishing on your lender's Standard Variable Rate. Recent figures from London and Country mortgage brokers said that a home owner with £300,000 of debt can reduce monthly payments by nearly £700 by switching to a two-year fixed rate deal rather than staying on a SVR. It just takes one quick phone call to a fee free broker to start the ball rolling (0800 9530591) and my site even has a one minute mortgage checker to tell you immediately whether you can save money.
2. Cut down on credit card debt
The BIGGEST culprit for wasting money is having debt on a high interest credit card or store card. Almost half of credit card holders don't pay off their balance in full each month, which is fine but ONLY if you are not being charged interest. In fact the UK wastes more than £2billion in credit card interest payments! An interest free card could save you as much as £25 a month on a £1,500 bill. It takes less than 10 minutes to fill in the application form and you should know whether you have been approved within 60 seconds. It can then be completed within a few days.
3. Beat energy price hikes
This is another quick five-minute job with big rewards as you could save hundreds of pounds a year. From this week, energy tariffs are to be made simpler, which means it will be easier to know whether you are on a good deal. There are lots of fixed rate energy deals which give you peace of mind and will guarantee your bills don't increase during the next set of price rises.
4. Don't pay too much for your broadband
People tell me time and again that they think they are paying too much for their broadband but aren't really sure why! It is SO important to check that you are getting what you pay for by checking the broadband speed in your area and how much data you are allowed to download each month. Going over your allowance can cost you an extra £20 a month so check out offers which will allow you to get unlimited broadband for as little as £12 a month.
5. Never auto-renew your car insurance
I physically shudder when people tell me that they let their car insurance auto renew. Loyalty rarely saves you money when it comes to car insurance and by shopping around and challenging the insurance providers, the average saving on a car insurance premium is around £400. If that isn't reason enough to change, what if I told you that we have heard of people saving up to a MASSIVE £800! Don't be complacent this year and you could earn big!
6. Go online for your food shopping
Food shopping can be very stressful and hit you hard in your pocket EVERY WEEK! Save time and money by shopping online. I really like mySupermarket, who claim that they save shoppers an average of £20 a week. They point you in the direction of the best offers and compare the supermarkets for you so that you end up with the best deals. If you have never shopped online before then there are ALWAYS delivery offers and discounts for first time shoppers from most of the major supermarkets.
7. Use your Childcare Vouchers
If you (or your partner) work and have children, then claiming your childcare vouchers is a MUST! They can save you as much as £1,800 a year and are SO simple to use. You don't have to use them just for nursery or child-minding either, they can be used as payment for holiday schemes and after school clubs too, right up until your child turns 16! That's quite a saving!
8. Get the freebie jeebies!
I love a freebie! If you are clever, you can find ANYTHING for free online! I even compile the best ones each week in the freebie section of my website! It could be a sample of a moisturiser, a sachet of pet food, free tickets to your fave TV show or a glass of champagne even! If you don't mind going down the second hand route, then you should ALWAYS check a giveaway site as you can get so much stuff for FREE. Freecycle is the biggest site but Freegle and snaffleup are also doing the same thing.
9. Declutter and make cash
After Christmas your house is probably at its peak of clutter! It should be out with the old and in with the new! Get rid of unused toys, games, clothes, books and even furniture by selling it online! The average person has around £500 worth of 'trash' that could well be another person's 'treasure'. Cash in now!
10. Claim cashback
I am a HUGE fan of cashback and love nothing more than aiming for the DOUBLE of buying my shopping through a cashback site and then using a cashback credit card! Ha ha! If you are really savvy this year then you might even be able to use a money-off voucher too to score the elusive triple whammy!! Go on, give it a try!