If 2020 wasn’t your year for finances – you are not alone. Many people across the globe have been impacted by the COVID 19 crisis and some have experienced a severe blow to their finances. This could mean that Christmas isn’t quite as extravagant as it usually is, and it also means you may need to take some time over the festive season to consider how you will be spending your money in 2021. It is important to do this each year, but especially so this year, because budgets have well and truly been stretched. With this in mind, here are some items you could consider when creating your financial plan for next year. Some of these offer small savings, and some bigger ones, but ultimately, it is about getting your outgoings right down in every way possible.
1. Take a pledge to plan your meals.
If you tend to grab a takeaway on the way home if you haven’t got anything in the fridge to cook that night, you may make a pledge to make a meal plan at the start of the week. Maybe buy a whiteboard and put this up in the kitchen for everyone to see. By planning your meals, you can buy only the food you need and won’t be tempted to grab that expensive pizza on the way back from the office!
2. Consider growing your own vegetables.
This one comes courtesy of this Wonga’s ‘bumper savings’ blog post. “If you can, try growing your own produce – even your own herbs will save money on buying them fresh each week.” Herbs can be expensive and this small saving might make a big difference over the year. There are all sorts of efficient ways to use the space you have available and most vegetables for personal use require much less space (and maintenance) than you might think!
3. Turn off that TV when not in use.
There are plenty of savings to be had in your electricity consumption. Turn lights off and the television when it is not in use. These savings soon stack up and could greatly reduce your monthly energy bill. Not only will you make savings but you will help do your bit to reduce your carbon footprint, too.
4. Pick through all your direct debits.
With a seriously fine-toothed comb no less. You might find some old ones lingering on your monthly statement that you forgot to cancel. Think about old gym subscriptions or TV packages that you no longer use. Make sure you cancel them because these savings could really make a big difference!
5. Stop Smoking.
Finally curbing this dirty habit is often cited as one of the biggest ways to save money (AND improve your health) in 2021. Buying cigarettes can take up a huge amount of money each money and this money can easily be tucked away into a holiday vacation fund or other priority which would be much more beneficial. Stopping smoking is hard, of course – but there are many helplines and support packages available that can help you to gradually cut down and reduce the amount you smoke – with a view to finally giving up altogether. You can do it!
6. Use Cashback sites.
There are many cashback sites on the internet that you can use when you make any online purchase. They work by clicking through this site to get to your online retailer, and then when you make a purchase, a small percentage of this purchase is then repaid back to you via the cashback site. This can really add up if you do a lot of your buying online. It may only be a little per purchase – but over time this builds up and when you check the account, you will be surprised at how much you have accumulated. You can then withdraw this amount straight into your own bank account. It is free to use and easy, so why not give it a go?
7. Plan free days out.
If you are going out as a family, the costs can soon mount up. In fact, for a family of four you might find it to be extortionate. However, there are other ways of spending time with your family WITHOUT spending as much money. For instance, take them to a large park, bring your own bats, balls and a picnic. Why not take a trip to the beach? This is another cheap idea which the kids will love. If you plan days out in advance, including where you are going to eat or whether you bring your own food, you can reduce the costs spent on the day. This of course requires some organization and forward-thinking but once you get into the habit of this, and you start seeing the benefits on your finances (and maybe even the quality time spent with the family) it may be something you are more inclined to do more often.
8. Share your streaming accounts.
Most of us have at least one monthly subscription to a streaming service, with Netflix, Disney Plus and Spotify being some of the most popular. These quickly amount to a sizeable ‘entertainment’ spend each month, so get tactical with your subscription sharing. These streaming services are designed to share between family members and this isn’t limited to a single roof. Decide amongst your friends and family for you each to take one subscription service then share the login details with the rest of your savvy syndicate, you’ll save a bundle without compromising your entertainment library.
9. Compare and phone your service providers
An alarming amount of money goes begging each year because people are content to pay for convenience. Our phone bills, internet, electricity, water, car and home insurance etc. you name it and odds are you’re paying an automated direct debit or automatically renewing contracts because it’s easy and you’re busy. However you would be surprised how far a little extra leg work will take you. Make use of comparison sites to find better deals on utilities and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to tell companies you’re going to leave because you’ve found a better deal elsewhere. Many of these ‘customer retention’ teams are authorised to give subscription discounts on the spot in order to keep a customer, so why not chance your arm. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!