Wednesday, 22 January 2014

New Year, new budget: move away from old habits and start saving money!

They come around every January, those brief moments of virtue and determination known as New Year’s Resolutions. They don't always pan out, but we use them to give ourselves ideas of what we need to achieve in the New Year. If your resolutions were to spend less money in 2014, here are a few ways you can make that happen.
Set Goals and Be Specific
At the beginning of the year, many people decide on a money-saving goal. That goal needs to be specific, however. Look at your monthly bills and decide how much you want to set aside each month, whether it's to add to your savings, pay off your debts, or spend on something special. Once you've set your goal, it's time to start thinking about the strategies you can employ to achieve them.

Establish Money Management Time
One of the reasons that many people fail to achieve their money-saving goals is that they don't allow themselves the time they need to think about their finances. For many people, saving is something that only happens in times of crisis. One way to get around this problem is to establish a certain amount of time each week as time to look at financial information. Save receipts, bills and other financial documents to look over during this time. You'll keep on top of your financial situation more easily this way and be able to make the right decisions to reach your goals.

Eliminate One-use Purchases
One type of expense that's easy to eliminate is the one-use purchase. These items, which don't contribute any lasting value to your household, can be cut out with a little planning. Carry an insulated flask of coffee to work instead of buying from coffee shops, or fill a bottle with tap water instead of buying expensive bottled water. Try substituting washable microfiber towels for paper kitchen roll. In general, anything you buy in a single-use package is going to be much more expensive over the long term than a more durable solution.

Cut Your Energy Costs
With gas and electricity prices rising all the time, getting your energy use under control is a good way to save money
. It's also good for the environment, so you'll feel even better about yourself when you achieve it. One easy way to cut down on the amount of money you waste on energy is to replace outdated incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. It might seem like you're saving money by buying old-fashioned bulbs, but it's a false economy: not only are they much more expensive to run, they don't last nearly as long as their more modern counterparts.

Plan Your Food Shopping
Supermarkets and other retailers rely on impulse purchases and great-seeming offers to get customers into the shop and spending money. We see the “buy one, get one free” label on a shelf and reach for the package, forgetting that we don't even want one of whatever it is we're buying, let alone two. Making a weekly meal plan and sticking to it will help you come out of the shop with only what you need. This isn't a small savings, either: some sources estimate that the average household wastes £500 a year on uneaten food.

Making the decision to save money is easy, but building the habits that support it can take a little work. The first few months of your new financial plan will require constant watchfulness to make sure that you don't fall back into old, inefficient ways of spending. However, like any good habit, once you get into the groove of planning ahead, keeping a watchful eye on your finances and buying only what you need, you'll wonder what you ever found difficult about it.


*This post is a PR Collaboration*


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