Many of us are starting 2019 with a financial Christmas hangover. Whether you have savings, investments or debt, it can be tempting to put money management off or bury your head in the sand. But against a backdrop of economic turmoil, it makes good sense to put your finances in order.
Here are our ten top tips to help you achieve fantastic financial health in 2019.
1. Look ahead
Without understanding what’s on the horizon, both economically for the country and as an individual, it’s difficult to plan. While no-one knows exactly what’s going to happen with Brexit, you can be clear about your own goals.
Maybe you’re planning to start a family or move house. Or you know you need to sort out your credit rating or do something about your money pit of a car. Whatever your objectives, being clear on where you’re heading helps you plan financially.
2. Understand your financial risk
If you’ve spent 2018 whacking everything on credit cards, you might feel exposed. Consider doing an audit of all your debt and find ways to gain greater financial control.
If you want to take less risk or you crave more fiscal certainty, alternative solutions to your credit card could work better. If saving hard for the things you want doesn’t appeal, or you need finance now, find smarter ways to borrow. Look for lower interest options and fixed repayment plans that mean debt can’t spiral.
Living pay cheque to pay cheque with no idea of your outgoings is a recipe for disaster. Establish exactly where your money’s going by using one of the many online budgeting tools to work out your expenses, take control of your cash and improve your financial health.
4. Keep an eye on your credit rating
It might not make for particularly interesting reading but your credit score is a good indicator of your financial health. It’s also the financial foundation that many of your life choices will be built on, like being able to secure credit or get a mortgage.
Technology means there are lots of free, easy ways to understand your credit rating. And some providers provide monthly reports that highlight ways to improve it too.
5. Not all debt is bad
Debt is bad, savings are good right? It’s not quite that simple. The Money Advice Service outlines certain types of debt that are good. This includes items that are a sensible investment in your future, like:
• Student loans
• Investing in your own business
• Buying a car you can afford
Deciding what’s right for you requires some research, so do your homework first.
6. Plan any investments
If you’ve got cash to spare you might decide to invest. After the boom of 2017 when UK stocks markets did well, 2018 was a little more tumultuous. If investing is for you, remember that you’ll need to take a long-term view; investments aren’t about making a quick buck. Seek advice from a reputable independent financial advisor if you’re unsure about how to get started or what to do next.
7. Build a nest egg
It’s good sense to have a rainy day fund in place. This is a pot of money, usually around two to three months of your salary, that will cover unexpected expenses. Costs like an extended period of illness, your boiler blowing up or the loss of your job. You never know what life will throw at you so it’s always best to be prepared.
8. Use technology
If planning all this manually sounds a bit too taxing, you can get help from a range of new apps that are designed to help you control your finances. From rounding up your spend and putting the extra pence into a savings pot to helping you stick to your budget, technology is a great way to achieve financial health.
9. Do your research
There’s nothing more satisfying than getting a good deal and making your money go further. Martin Lewis is the king of all things money saving and his website, Money Saving Expert, is a good place to find budgeting tips and cheaper ways of doing things.
Alternatively, take a look at your company’s reward package. Most employers provide ways to help you stretch your money further with benefits like:
• schemes that give you access to cheap cinema tickets, shopping voucher discounts and reduced gym memberships
• salary sacrifice pension contributions
• discounted car schemes that give you access to preferential rates and tax breaks
By making the most of your salary, you’ll be able to access the lifestyle you want at a fraction of the price.
10. Control costs with monthly payments
Many people in the UK choose fixed rate mortgages to help them plan their finances. If this appeals to you, there are other all-inclusive products, like car packages, that require a single monthly payment. You enjoy driving a brand new car knowing any repairs are covered - all you need to do is add fuel. These kinds of products mean you know exactly what you’ll be paying and help you live within your means.
With the new year comes new resolutions, many of them financial. Follow these top budgeting tips to get your finances into tip-top shape and enjoy great financial health for the rest of the year.
Click here to find out how you can take control of your motoring costs with a single, fixed monthly payment.