If 2019 hasn’t been great for your finances, don’t fret. The new year is a chance to refresh and make a plan to turn things around.
From switching bank account to paying more attention to your pension, there are plenty of simple financial promises you can make that are easy to stick to and could make you richer.
So, when you’re making your new year’s resolutions, consider adding these money goals to your list to keep financially fit in 2020.
1. Take control of your credit score
You should aim to check your credit score at least once a year and always do so before applying for new credit.
This allows you to take action to improve your score and pick up on any mistakes on your file as well as spotting 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.
- Find out more: how to check your credit score for free
2. Get a better rate on your savings
Whether you’re just starting to save or have already built up a little nest egg, make 2020 the year to earn better returns.
Interest rates on savings accounts are depressingly low right now. But it’s important to find an account that will help your money grow and beat the current inflation rate to 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.
- Find out more: the best savings account
3. Switch your bank account
It’s essential that your bank account 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.
If you’d prefer to earn rewards for your spending, however, it might be worth considering one of the best bank accounts for cashback.
Some 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.
- Find out more: how to switch bank account
4. Get on top of your credit card debt
People in the UK owed more than £1 trillion in personal debt including credit cards and personal loans. On average, each UK household has around £2,603 of credit card debt alone, according to The Money Charity.
If your debts seem overwhelming, all hope is not lost. Making a plan on how to clear them will help you move from the red into the black.
Generally, you should start with the most expensive debts, which are often likely to be on credit cards.
Getting a 0% balance transfer credit card can help 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 credit card interest rate – 18.5% APR – would take just over three years and cost £798 in interest if you paid in £92 a month.
By switching to a 29-month 0% balance transfer deal with no fee, for example, you could pay the same £92 a month and clear the debt in just over two years – saving £798.
- Find out more: compare 0% balance transfer deals on Which? Money Compare
5. Stop unused direct debits
It’s vital 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 aren’t required.
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.
- Find out more: direct debits and standing orders explained
6. Make a plan for retirement
Our research earlier this year found that couples need £27,00 a year to live a comfortable retirement or £42,000 a year to live a luxury retirement that includes a holiday every year and new car every five years.
To generate this income, you would need a pot worth £298,000 to have enough to get by or £695,000 to achieve the luxury lifestyle in your golden years.
So the earlier you make a plan for retirement, 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 worth checking all three to see how they’re looking and if you need to take any action.
If you haven’t started yet, see our interactive guide on retirement planning at different ages to get an idea of how you can kick-start your pension savings from your twenties to your sixties.
- Find out more: how much will you need to retire?
7. Increase your pension contributions
One surefire way to improve your pension savings is to increase your pension contributions.
If you haven’t opted in to a workplace pension you should consider joining as your employer is legally bound to pay in, too.
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|
|6 April 2019 onwards||3%||8% (including 5% staff contribution)|
|6 April 2018-5 April 2019||2%||5% (including 3% staff contribution)|
|Until 6 April 2018||1%||2% (including 1% staff contribution)|
If you’re already part of a workplace pension, you may want to consider increasing your contribution. Our research shows minimum contributions need to be closer to the 12% mark to give people a suitable income in retirement.
8. Make a will
It’s estimated over half of adults in the UK don’t have a will in place.
Not having a will could spell 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.
- Find out more: how to make a will
9. Earn extra money
There are lots of different ways to put more money in your pocket in 2020.
You could try 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 sites claim users earn around £300 a year.
- Find out more: 50 ways to make money
10. Shop around and haggle
Whenever a household bill comes up for renewal in 2020, don’t automatically accept the price you are given.
First, shop around to see if you can get a better deal.
Price comparison websites are a great way to pull up hundreds of offers in one place.
You can also try finding the best offers using a search engine yourself which will help identify companies that don’t appear on price comparison sites.
Once you know what you can get elsewhere, it’s worth haggling with your current provider.
In our most recent survey of more than 2,000 people, six in 10 said they had managed to negotiate a better deal by haggling.
- Find out more: for tips on how to haggle online and in the shops check out our guide to haggling