Hello everyone! First of all a very happy Christmas to you from us at the Wilderness – no matter if you celebrate the season or not I hope you’re getting to spend some good quality time with family and friends, and get a little bit of a break…..and maybe even make some resolutions!
It’s been a hard year, and so we’re going to take a couple of weeks break to spend proper time with family (and be in my happy place, reading a book by the fire).
Update: Well that was the plan and then we found ourselves in Tier 4! Determined to have a lovely time and make the best of it regardless – your happy place is where you make it.
Before we take that break though this time of year is a really excellent space for doing some reflecting on where we can change or improve what we do. I thought I’d leave you with a number of ideas for financial resolutions, and things that you can do to improve your financial health this year.
To all, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and thank you again for reading! We’ll be back with new posts on the 5th (or subscribe and be alerted when that happens!)
1. Challenge your spending more – does it bring you joy?
Contrary to popular belief, money bloggers generally are not in favour of living at the bare minimum, taking no pleasures in life as we eat our gruel and drink rainwater to spend the absolute least. Instead we encourage making sure your money is worth it. That requires consciously thinking about what you spend.
Put it another way – cleaning sensation Marie Kondo became known for assessing things on the basis of “does it bring you joy?”
Now that approach is not always possible with money – paying my electricity bill does not exactly bring me joy but is unfortunately essential. However there’s plenty of other non-essentials where if we actively ask ourselves if we think spending that money was worth it we can be aware of our behaviours and where we might spend when we don’t need to – or switch our spending to something else that does bring us joy!
After all, this is the season of goodwill and joy, no? I also recently asked my fellow money bloggers what they tend to spend on and the answers may surprise you.
2. If you have debt weighing you down, tackle it. Now.
It’s so easy today to end up with debts weighing you down, and it can be a real nightmare where they’re consistently growing and feeling like they’re becoming increasingly uncontrollable.
Just paying the minimum each month and hoping it goes away isn’t going to work – you need to make a very active plan to get to grips with it. We wrote up a guide to managing debt problems – it’s framed against credit card debt as this is the most common issue we see, but the principles within apply to tackling any kind of debt.
3. Take the time to look at what you can do to reduce your essential bills
Unfortunately, loyalty to companies doesn’t often pay, and you can make some huge savings by looking around at other suppliers! It can be a bit of a time investment that sometimes people don’t have, so making this a priority at the start of the year can get you off on the right foot.
When asked why people don’t change their suppliers, it’s often because they think that it’ll either be difficult or they’re worried about things going wrong. Those used to be frequent problems, but with the rise of internet comparison things have improved so much here to make it very simple.
Over the year we’ve written a number of guides to different areas:
For Premium TV, here’s our guide to negotiating your price down with Sky and Virgin Media.
For Energy Bills, we took a look at if moving to an automated energy switching service is worth it.
We looked here at what a switch to a SIM only deal for mobile phone use could save you.
And finally a general post on a few tips that could save you up to £2,500 a year.
4. Get into a saving habit – and save tax!
Are you already a purposeful saver? Do you put money aside for specific things each month? If not, this is a great new habit to get into – and comes in a variety of forms:
Often the best thing you can do is put more into your pension for later life – this is because you also save the tax that you would otherwise be paying on that income and it’s literally being given free money by the Government. We’ve written a more complete article on saving into a pension here.
You can also make use of your yearly ISA allowance to make tax-free regular savings into investments (which can pay a return but you can also make losses) or a bank account (slim pickings on good interest rates but nice and safe).
5. Maximise the benefits of your spending
There’s a couple of different ways that you can get a little bit more when you’re spending on something.
The classic example of this is a loyalty card – we advocate signing up to as many as possible where it’s easy, but especially when it’s somewhere you shop frequently. With the best schemes, you can really save quite a lot of money.
The second example is cashback for online shopping, which I’ve long advocated as the best easy money tip (I’ve had over £1,000 back with minimal effort in the last year).
I’ve written a post here on why I recommend TopCashback and how cashback works.
The final thing is that credit cards -can- be a force for good if you trust yourself with them. Otherwise, they’re best avoided.
They can be an excellent tool either as part of a debt management plan or if you’re debt free and can pay off in full each months, the rewards programs can be generous. We’ve written a guide to what type of credit card is right for you and (for those who are in a position to pay their card off in full ONLY) a guide to best reward credit cards and best cashback credit cards.
What resolutions are you making?
What financial new year resolutions are you making for the year ahead? Please comment below – we’d absolutely love to hear about them!
And that’s it!
In fact that’s it for the year this time! Please do stay with us throughout the year for plenty of great advice on moneysaving and investing. We usually publish posts on a once a week basis which you can be notified of by providing your e-mail address below – or check out our Facebook and Twitter pages!