Personal finance advice: How to be more resolute with your money in 2018

Personal finance advice: How to be more resolute with your money in 2018

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Make 2018 the year you get your money on trackGETTY / STOCK

Make 2018 the year you get your finances on track

Britons spend an average of £187 on New Year’s resolutions that they quickly give up, according to research from TSB.

Instead of throwing your money away, put it to work instead.

The following tips should really boost your financial health in 2018.

Have a clean up 


Create a pot of savings to help you cope with life’s nasty little surprises, like your washing machine breaking down.

Harvey Jones


Christmas may have wrecked your waistline and your household budget, so now is the ideal time for a financial detox.

Money Advice Service expert Nick Hill recommends poring over your bank accounts to see where you can cut back: “Make 2018 the year you start living within your budget.”

Set your goals

Work out what you most want to do with your money this year, says Liz Alley, head of financial planning operations at Brewin Dolphin: “Whether saving for a holiday, new car or to help out your children, it is easier if you have a clear goal in mind. Consider taking independent financial advice.”

Pay off your credit cards if you canGETTY / STOCK

Pay off outstanding credit cards if you can

Build a cash cushion

Create a pot of savings to help you cope with life’s nasty little surprises, like your washing machine breaking down.

Martin Upton, a director at the Open University Business School, says you should aim to have £1,000 in such savings for each adult in the household.

He explains: “This gives you financial resilience so that a mechanical nightmare does not cause financial ruin.”

Take stock of your savings regularlyGETTY / STOCK

Re-evaluate your savings regularly

Make comparisons

Dig out your utility bills, motor, household and travel insurance policies, and services such as your landline, mobile, broadband and digital TV subscription.

They eat a large chunk of your income, so you need to control them.

Upton suggests visiting comparison sites to see if you can get a better deal: “Try haggling with your existing supplier and if it does not give you a better offer then switch.”

Clear your credit cards

If you ran up credit card debt over Christmas consider shifting it to a balance transfer card.

Barclaycard, for example, charges zero per cent interest for the first 38 months.

Those with credit problems may not qualify, but Upton says: “In this case, target your debts with the highest interest rate first, and be prepared to replace credit card debt with cheaper borrowing, such as a bank loan.”

If you already have a zero per cent credit card deal make a note of when this ends and be prepared to move on. 

Plan your financial yearGETTY / STOCK

Plan out your financial year and work out when your major expenses will fall

Keep a calendar

Jenny Cheung, director at American Express, suggests keeping a calendar of your major commitments for the year ahead, such as summer holidays and wedding invitations: “Mapping out the big, costly events can help you plan for upcoming purchases.”

Redeem your rewards

If you have earned rewards, loyalty points and cashback on your Christmas shopping, now is the time to cash them in, Cheung says: “Britons save £60 each on average by redeeming rewards or points.” 

Sort out your savings

Almost three in five UK savers do not know what interest rate their account pays, while nearly half only review their accounts once a year or less, according to research from Ford Money.

Chief deposits officer Julian Hynd recommends shopping around for a better deal today: “Finding a savings account that pays a fair and consistent rate over time should help you get more out of your money.”

Talk to your children

Talk to your family about important financesGETTY / STOCK

Talk to your family about important financial decisions

One in three parents never talks to their children about key financial issues such as savings and retirement, while two thirds have never spoken about their inheritance, according to Skipton Building Society.

The society’s retirement specialist Jacqui Bateson says Britons have always found money an awkward topic: “The sooner you start having these conversations, the better placed your children will be to handle issues such as student debt, saving for a property deposit or retirement.”

Grab tax breaks

Neil Adams, head of pension planning at adviser Drewberry, says while the calendar year is over, the tax year is not: “Everyone should make the most of their annual tax allowances before April 5. You can get tax relief on pension contributions of up to 100 per cent of your salary, or a maximum £40,000, and can invest up to £20,000 in Isas, held in cash or equities.

Diverse your savings if at all possibleGETTY / STOCK

Diverse your savings if at all possible

You can whittle down your inheritance tax exposure with careful gifting each tax year.

Adams says claim the marriage allowance, if eligible: “If one spouse earns less than the personal allowance, currently £11,500, they can transfer £1,150 of their allowance to their partner, saving up to £230.”

Save regularly

Simon Dick, independent financial adviser with True Potential, suggests setting up a direct debit to invest a little every month: “Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket, but diversify and beware high charges.”

Be realistic

Do not set yourself overly ambitious goals, as you could get demoralised if you fall short.

Hargreaves Lansdown personal finance analyst Sarah Coles says lifestyle change is hard: “An overnight transformation will be very difficult to stick with.

“Far better to set achievable goals, one at a time.”

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