With the festive season comes many stresses, following these 7 tips to make your income go further for Christmas means the cost of Christmas won’t be one of them!
1. Spring clean your bank account
All of us have cleaned out our cupboards, houses or cars at some point and discarded the stuff we don’t use any more but have you tried doing the same with your bank account? Next time you’re tempted to just stick your bank statement in a draw try going through each outgoing. You might be surprised to find that you are still paying old contracts or subscription fees that you no longer need or have forgotten about. Cancelling these payments takes minutes and could save you hundreds a year.
2.Know what you’re spending
Be honest do you really know what you’re spending your hard earn money on? Starting a household budget planner can be the first step in increasing your income. Go through your bank statement and identify essential items (rent, bills, etc) i.e. those payments that you have to make that are the same amount every month (we’ll call these red items). Then identify the necessary items, (food, travel costs etc) i.e. those payments that you must make but can be scaled down if necessary (we’ll call these orange items) . Anything that’s left is your disposable income (green items), money you can spend freely on the things you want. Allocate a weekly budget from this area of your income, say £50 a week (depending on where you live and what your life entails), this is the money you carry with you to spend on the little things you need to get through the week – your grown up pocket money. Try sticking to this for a week and see if it makes the difference in your pocket
3. Cultivate better financial ‘habits’
Do you know why rich people are rich? Because they cultivate financially savvy ‘habits’ How much have you spent on skinny lattés this year? What about manicures or magazines? Most people know they should be better at managing their money but never seem able to actually stick to any plan for improvement. This is because they haven’t as yet cultivated the ‘habit’. Psychologists believe that a habit takes 21 days to become routine. So here’s some maths for you. The average cost of a medium skinny latté is £2.55, let’s say you buy a medium skinny latté every morning on your way into work. If you stop for just 21 days you’ll save £53.55, which is the cost of an average weekly shop. If you can manage to give up the coffee for a year you’ll save £663, all by cultivating the right habits.
4. Renegotiate telecoms and energy contracts regularly
It’s a well-known fact that big companies make more profit from existing customers then they do from new business. Existing customers tend to pay their bills on time, will upgrade regularly to more expensive packages and will hardly ever move suppliers. And businesses know it, and will go to some lengths to hold on to their existing customers. So as an existing customer you carry a lot of clout. You don’t even have to leave a supplier you like, just by raising the idea of leaving you can get offers and deals not advertised to the public. I once got my telecoms supplier to provide me with 3 months half price service just by mentioning I was thinking of leaving, that was over £100 of savings
5. Are you on the right tax code?
How often do you think about your tax code? Unless you’re self-employed probably never right? But millions of people in the UK on PAYE are actually using the wrong code and if you’re one of them then the government owes you money. It’s fairly easy to find out, and HMRC website provides plenty of tools for you to find out.
6.It pays to de-clutter
Did you know that you can sell your old stuff for cash? Websites such as Music Magpie, Zapper.com and even Amazon will pay your for old unwanted items from DVDs, CDs clothes and mobile phones, the stuff we all have taking up space in our cupboards that we never use any more. Once a year my kids and I have a proper clear out, anything we haven’t used in the last 12 months goes in the ‘sell it’ pile. I’ve made £300 plus every year for the past three years just flogging things I don’t use anymore and what’s even better is a lot of these sites have free pick up so it doesn’t cost you a penny to post. Give it a try next week end you’ll be amazed at what you can make.
7. Be happy
Ok this sounds like the last tip that people put on their lists to make up the numbers right? There is in fact hard evidence to show that the happier you are the less inclined you are to spend money on things you don’t need. There’s lots of works for it, retail therapy, self-sabotage. The label doesn’t matter, the fact is we are all vulnerable when we are not feeling our best, and we tend to compensate by spending. So by making a conscious choice to be happy you’ll reduce your impulse to spend money on things you don’t need – try it and see.