Christmas and New Year is an awful lot of fun, but there is always the nagging worry of how much money you are spending at this time of the year.
And though you might find yourself on the back foot, the January sales can offer a wily shopper a chance to pick up some bargains, while a couple of lifestyle changes could get you back on firmer financial footing, helping you get set for the year ahead.
You do not have to scrimp and save at every turn to make your money go a bit further; there are a few very simple changes that you can make to help.
Below are some tips to help get your finances back on track in the New Year.
1. Install a money-tracking app
There’s no magic button to stop you frittering money away but installing a money-tracking app is as close as you can get to putting the brakes on some of your more unnecessary spending habits.
These days you’re only ever one click away from making a purchase, whether it’s with a card, your phone or your watch. That’s why taking five minutes a day to look at where you’ve spent your cash can make such a significant impact on your finances.
By adding this layer of responsibility you might find you make fewer impulse purchases, especially knowing you’ll need to put it into the app. Seeing the damage a frivolous purchase can do to your monthly budget will have you thinking twice.
You could of course refuse to input your spending at times like this but that’s where something that tracks your spending automatically can come into play.
With round ups spending reports at the tip of your finger or pushed to your devices you’ll find you think twice the next time you’re walking down the high street.
2. Get the most out of your phone contract
A far cry from years gone by, phone contracts have become much more malleable to the needs of the customer. Customisable plans with O2 Refresh give you a level of flexibility you might not realise is possible.
It means you can really focus on what matters to you, putting you in control of your phone plan.
The great thing about O2’s custom plans is that you can flex the length of your device plan from 3 to 36 months, helping you spread your monthly costs. With custom plans, you can decide how much you pay for your device upfront, and even change how much data you need each month. Visit o2.co.uk/custom-plans to see how you can design a plan to suit you.
Do you manage the phone plans for your whole family? With O2’s Family Plan, save up to 40% on airtime for additional numbers you add to your plan. To find out more, visit o2.co.uk/family-plan.
3. Get your hands on as many vouchers and deals as you can
There are so many easy ways to save money these days without having to go out of your way. Gone are the days of having to save up vouchers from daily newspapers to save a bit of cash at the weekend.
There are numerous websites that provide all the latest deals, offers and voucher codes for everything that you can think of. Whether this is 50% off at a high street restaurant, a buy one get one free at your local supermarket, or big reductions at clothes stores online.
It is amazing what sorts of everyday items you can get reduced or even for next to no cost online.
It can take a bit of a trawl through things you are not interested in, but get online and look for the best vouchers, deals and offers and you could save plenty over the coming year.
4. Ditch the gym membership for cheaper or free exercise
Many people swear by the gym, but many more sign up for a membership and see money frittered away without getting much use out of it at all.
If you are paying £50 a month for your membership, that adds up to £600 a year.
Exercise is clearly a hugely important thing and there is no need to give it up, even if you ditch your gym membership. One way is by signing up for park runs. These are free to enter and allow you to compete in timed 5km races all over the UK (and the world) each week.
With your results provided, this lets you track your progress and encourage you to keep coming back each week and try to improve on your time. And what is the best way to train for the park run? Go and run round the park or on the streets throughout the week – which is also free!
5. Meal prep and buying food in bulk
If you’re one of the many people in the UK that doesn’t take lunch with them to work, you’ll be acutely aware of how costly meals can be during the week. It’s a hard truth that unless you have military discipline to prep your meals, you can end up forking out £10 a day just on lunch.
That’s why one of the greatest money-saving techniques out there revolves around meal prep and your weekly shop.
You don’t have to go overboard and it needn’t become a chore but with careful planning and a keen eye for a good deal you’ll soon notice the extra money accruing in your bank account.
Buy plenty of non-perishable items such as canned beans, tinned fish, cereals and wholegrains before topping up your basket with perishables like fresh meats. Search for recipes that make enough for four and you’ll quickly find you have more than enough food to keep you going for a week of work, and for a fraction of what you’d usually spend. It takes planning, but when January arrives, you’ll be thankful.
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