It’s that time of the year when we are reevaluating all of our life choices from career to the colour of the paint we picked for our living room walls. Finances are top of the list and the start of the year really is the perfect time to get your finances in order. It is a great time for new starts and also for a health check on your spending.
Sit down with a pen and paper and write it all down. Your income and what you spend your money on. Once you have it in front of you it will be much easier to sort things out.
You can use your online banking app if you have one to search back over your spending for the year. Write down all your direct debits and standing orders. This exercise may take just 30 minutes but once you have it done you will have a great idea about where your money is going.
You could find a direct debit for a subscription you never use for €20 a month. Getting rid of it will save you €240 in the year. After you have gathered your information, go through each item to make sure you are getting value for your money.
Once you have your audit done, you will have a clear picture of your monthly bills. January is a great time to ring around and check if you can get better deals from your utility providers, TV providers or others.
Even just ringing around and checking when your contracts are up will help you prepare for the year ahead. If your home insurance contact is up in April for example, set a reminder for yourself to start shopping around in March so you are prepared.
The companies you are with will want to keep you as a customer so no harm asking for deals and seeing if you can cut some money off your bills. Cutting €50 a month off your TV, electricity, gas and broadband bills would save you a total of €2,400 in a year. That’s your family holiday paid for in July.
If you can at all, put some money away. If you are a Revolut user then the Revolut Vaults are a great option for saving money easily.
You can each put away any amount of money for a set amount of time and it can be withdrawn very easily also. Of course, the banks also have deposit accounts where you can save money too.
Not forgetting either the age-old trusted ‘manage’ where a group of friends or family come together and one person acts as the gatherer of money. You all agree on an amount and hand it over each week and in December you get handed a bundle of cash to help with your Christmas spending.
Saving €50 a week would result in a nice bundle of €2,600 in a year.
Is it time to chat to your boss about a raise? It is always an awkward topic to address but if you have gone years without addressing it, now could be the time.
Do some research before you do have the chat and make sure you have a good case to present for a reason to ask for a raise. Also according to the experts, the best time to ask is on a Friday.
According to Ireland’s Money Advice and Budgeting Service or MABS it is a good idea to separate your ‘needs’ from your ‘wants’ and identify the costs that you can start cutting down.
They said that one of the most challenging things to do is to decide what we need and what we want. It can be a helpful exercise to review what we are spending and ask if it is something we really need or something that we want. It is the same when making a purchase.
You might see a really nice coat advertised but do you need it or just want it? Of course there are plenty of things we want and it’s often the case that we would treat ourselves but when you stop for a while and think about it, ask yourself is it really worth the purchase.
There are loyalty cards and discounts everywhere. You just need to sign yourself up and get going. Supermarkets are great for discounts if you have their loyalty cards and apps. Most companies too will ask you to sign up for their newsletters or alerts with your email.
Many people get frustrated with marketing emails clogging up their inboxes so a good idea is to set up a new email and direct them all there. That way you can pop in when you need to if you are looking for a discount code for a specific company or retailer.