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11 new year’s resolutions to improve your finances in 2019

Treat yourself to a 2019 money makeover

11 new year’s resolutions to improve your finances in 2019

The new year is a chance to rejuvenate your finances, especially if your budget is looking a little shabby after the festive season. 

There are a number of quick and easy ways to give your bottom line a boost in 2019, from switching your bank account to planning for retirement.

So, when you’re making your new year’s resolutions, consider adding these goals to your list for a more financially savvy 2019.

1) Work out your financial goals

It’s easier to be motivated if you’re saving towards something – so write down what you’d like to achieve in 2019.

Once you know your goal, you can identify the best way of achieving it.

If, for example, you’re trying to save a house deposit, you might want to consider opening a Help to Buy Isa or a Lifetime Isa. Alternatively, if you’re building up an emergency fund for rainy days, it may be worth putting money into a regular savings account – or if your goal is a long-term nest egg, your money might be better off in a fixed-term account.

At the beginning of the year, it can also help to plan for any large bills or expenses you know are coming up, such as winter energy bills or holidays. And if Christmas took a toll on your wallet, you could start saving now so that you’re well-prepared for next year.

2) Get a better rate on your savings

If you’ve already built up a stash of savings, make this the year your money earns better returns.

Interest rates on savings accounts are notoriously low right now, so it’s important to find an account that will generate decent returns. If possible, finding one that will pay you more than the current inflation rate will protect your cash from losing value.

Our savings booster tool identifies how much extra interest you could earn by simply moving your savings to a different account.

For more help and tips, check out our comprehensive guide on how to find the best savings account.

3) Switch your bank account

It’s really important to make sure you’re using a bank account that best suits your financial needs.

For example, if you’d like to earn interest on your balance, some high-interest bank accounts pay more than most savings accounts on the market right now.

On the other hand, if you’d like to earn rewards for your spending, it might be worth considering one of the best bank accounts for cashback.

Most banks offer incentives for you to switch your bank. While these bonuses shouldn’t be the only reason for changing, they can sweeten the deal if you’re already considering a particular account.

The table below shows the best switching deals for balances of £1,000:

Provider Account name(s) Switching bonus
First Direct 1st Account Choose from a range of switcher gifts including high-end tech gadgets and travel vouchers.
Halifax Reward/ Ultimate Reward  £50 plus £85 after six months
M&S Bank Current Premium £125 M&S voucher plus £60 in year one
Nationwide Building Society FlexAccount/FlexDirect/FlexPlus  £100 for referrals

4) Take control of your direct debits

It’s really important to check over your direct debits and standing orders to make sure you’re not paying for services or products you no longer need.

This could be anything from unused gym memberships and forgotten subscriptions to insurance products that no longer apply.

If you find recurring payments you’d like to cancel, first get in touch with the company to check if you’ll have to give written notice before cancelling.

You could also try services such as Bean and Smartbill which scan your bank account to help you identify and cancel unwanted reoccurring payments.

5) Get on top of your credit score

Your credit score plays a key role in determining which financial products you can apply for, including credit cards, loans and mortgages. You should aim to check your credit score at least once a year, and always do so before applying for new credit.

Not only will this allow you to pick up on any mistakes, but you’ll also be able to spot any fraudulent credit applications that might have been made in your name.

Our recent investigation credit scoring: are you in the dark, reveals everything you need to know about how your credit score affects financial opportunities in your life.

If it turns out your credit score is less than perfect, one of your aims for 2019 could be to bring up your rating. We share plenty of tips in our guide on how to improve your credit score and in the short video below.

6) Tackle your debt head-on

On average, each UK household has around £2,668 of credit card debt, according to The Money Charity. And that’s not including the thousands of pounds you may owe on a personal loan, overdraft or other debts.

If you’re in the red in 2019, make a plan for how to clear your debts. Generally, you should start with the most expensive debts, which are often likely to be on credit cards.

A 0% balance transfer credit card can freeze the interest rate you pay and speed up the time it takes to clear what you owe.

Trying to clear a balance of £2,668 at the current average rate of credit card interest rate – 18.5% APR – would take just over four years and cost £1,079.43 in interest if you paid in £75 a month.

By switching to a 36-month 0% balance transfer deal with no fee, for example, you could pay the same £75 a month and clear the debt in just over a year – saving £1,079.43.

For more tips, read our story on how to pay off your debts in 2019.

7) Make a plan for retirement

While it’s never too late to make a retirement plan, the earlier you get one in place, the less pressure you’ll have to meet your saving targets.

Your retirement income is likely to come from a variety of sources including the state pension, workplace pensions and private pensions.

It’s important to work out exactly how you need to save into a pension first to give you an idea of the amount of money you’ll need to put away.

Check out our interactive guide on retirement planning at different ages to get an idea of how you can kickstart your pension savings from your 20s to your 60s.

8) Increase your pension contributions

Depending on your employer, increasing contributions to a workplace pension or private pension could mean that they contribute more to your pension pot.

The table below shows the current minimum employer contributions. Some employers may offer more generous terms though so be sure to check to see how much of a boost you can get.

Date Employer minimum contribution Total minimum contribution
6th April 2019 onwards 3% 8% (including 5% staff contribution)
6th April 2018-5th April 2019 2% 5% (including 3% staff contribution)
Until April 6th 2018 1% 2% (including 1% staff contribution)

9) Make a will

Estimates show that one in three people die without having a will in place.

This could mean chaos and financial worry for any remaining family or dependents after you’re gone.

Making a will can give you and your loved ones peace of mind and make sure that your money and assets go to the intended people.

Check out our guide on how to make a will for more information.

If you need help, Which Wills? can help you do-it-yourself, or create one on your behalf – visit Which Wills to find out more.

10) Master the art of haggling

While it can be a daunting prospect, haggling for a better deal can help you save hundreds of pounds each year.

We surveyed more than 2,00 people and asked them about their experiences with haggling. A notable 58% of respondents said they had managed to negotiate a good discount.

Our results found that on average people saved £725 a year by haggling on things such as car insurance, home insurance, car breakdown cover, mobile, broadband & pay TV and energy bills.

For tips on how to haggle online and in the shops check out our ultimate guide to haggling.

11) Earn extra money

Give yourself a bonus this year by earning some extra income.

One option for making some extra cash is selling your unused or unwanted belongings on online marketplaces such as eBay. Alternatively, you could use websites such as MusicMagpie and Zapper to trade in your unused or unwanted goods for cash.

To earn money when you shop online this year, you can use cashback websites such as Quidco and TopCashback.  You’ll earn rewards each time you spend on qualifying sites.  Both cashback programs allow you to earn around £300 a year.

Some banks and building societies including Halifax, Santander and Lloyds Bank, also offer cashback rewards schemes, some of which pay up to 15% when you spend with your debit card in-store and online. For more tips, check out our cashback websites explained guide and watch the short video below.

From current accounts and mortgages to mobile phone networks and gym memberships, you can earn cash and rewards for referring your friends and family members to different products and services. We’ve rounded up some of the best refer-a-friend schemes on the market right now.

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