Have you made your new year’s resolutions for 2018 yet? Have you included your finances – do you have financial goals for the new year? Are your finances a struggle, or are you doing OK and just want your finances to be healthier in 2018? If you want to change your money habits, or to find yourself in a better financial situation, what better time is there to start than at the start of a brand-new year?
2018 could be a potentially tricky year financially in the UK. The cost of living is now at a six-year high and wages have stagnated, so prices are set to rise at a faster rate than wages. Household energy, petrol, and car insurance costs are going up. Also set to rise are train fares, employees’ pension contributions, and council tax rates. These price hikes will leave less money in consumers bank accounts, meaning more care and attention should be paid to your money in order to successfully navigate the financial path in the new year. So, we’ve put together some simple resolutions to follow in 2018:
- Educate yourself. Go to the library or online and get a book on personal finance. There are also dozens of articles online about how handling credit, saving for retirement and creating a household budget. Education is the key to understanding.
- Once you’ve educated yourself, sit down with your kids and teach them about personal finance. Help them learn that starting to save today is the smartest move they could make.
- Keep tabs on your Credit Score. Learn how to read your credit report and ensure you have a good understanding of your credit score — you can only work to improve your credit if you understand how. Then, target your trouble spots, as several factors can affect your credit. Sign up for a free credit monitoring system and keep an eye on alerts and updates. The sooner you spot an error on your credit report, the easier it will be to keep it from affecting your credit profile long-term. This will also help you combat identity theft, as data breaches exposing sensitive information are becoming more and more prevalent.
- Resist using your home like a cash machine, taking out home-equity loans to get cash. If your debt is more than your home’s value, start making extra payments even if it’s just a few pounds a month to get above water again.
- Start a rainy-day savings account at your bank, even if you only put £10 a week into it. And never touch it — until the rainy day. Experts say you should have at least three months expenses saved.
- Treat credit cards like time bombs. Know that if you don’t pay the balance every month, interest on your debt will explode. It could take years to pay off those Christmas gifts you couldn’t afford.
- Create a list of financial goals. Name three financial goals that you want to achieve in the New Year and that are feasible, and write them down. Writing down and clarifying your goals will motivate you to take the steps to achieve them.
- Make specific financial goals. Avoid vague resolutions like ‘pay off debt’ or ‘spend less money.’ Instead, shoot for goals like ‘pay off £200 of credit card debt each month’ or ‘limit clothing spend to £50 per month’.
- Change one money spending habit that won’t break you. Think of one habit you need to break that won’t break you. Do you order a medium coffee every day and only drink half of it? Order a small. Can you bring lunch to work one day a week? Eradicating these small spending habits can have a big affect on your overall finances.
- Save More, Spend Less. A great way to achieve this goal is to set a weekly budget and stick to it. To avoid overspending on your everyday expenses, take advantage of digital budgeting apps that will keep tabs on your credit and debit spending.
- Have A No-Spend Day. Choose one day each week and designate it a no-spend day. Or, better yet — one week per month.
Implementing some, if not all of these tips will give you a much better chance of avoiding financial pitfalls, and making 2018 a financially successful year. Good luck!!