We all like to start the New Year with good intentions, so what better time to knock your 2017 budget into shape with a financial detox?
Getting into simple habits which can help to save a little bit of cash here and there can soon add up.
Even if you aren’t expecting to get much of a salary increase this year, there might be other ways that you can make some more room in your budget.
Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief at money.co.uk, says: “The secret is to set aside a little bit of time each week to keep on top of this, even if it’s just 15 minutes.”
She suggests, firstly, making a budget that lists all the cash going in and coming out each month.
Remember to include outgoings that aren’t necessarily household bills such as gym memberships, money going into savings accounts or music subscriptions.
Maundrell then suggests checking the following to see if you could arrange a better deal:
◆ Debts: If you’ve got spare cash in savings, think about using it to pay down your mortgage or credit cards you’re paying interest on. It could make your money work harder for you. Remember to keep a buffer in case you get an unexpected bill.
◆ Credit cards: If you’re paying interest then a balance transfer could save you money and help you to pay the debt off faster. You can check your chance of getting accepted for many cards before you apply.
◆ Broadband, landline and TV: Check what you’re using and which channels you’re watching and see if you could get the same deal elsewhere. If you want to stick with the same company, call them up and haggle.
◆ Mobile phone: If you own your handset or aren’t tied into a fixed contract, perhaps consider switching to a Sim-only deal.
◆ Reclaim: Check whether you were mis-sold PPI or hit with unfair bank charges in the past, or if you’re entitled to compensation for delayed flights or trains. You don’t need to pay a company to do this for you.
Some simple lifestyle changes could also help to keep your budget on track for 2017.
According to calculations from Standard Life, ditching a morning coffee bought on the way to work could potentially save someone around £700 a year, depending on the size of their caffeine habit.
Shunning takeaways and snacks could also help. Standard Life estimates that cutting out “impulse buying” altogether could save someone as much as £600 across 2017.
Citizens Advice also has tips for organising your finances for 2017.
It suggests keeping a diary note of annual contracts that are up for renewal, such as mobile phone or car insurance, and using comparison websites to see if you can get a cheaper deal before the date approaches.
You could also sign up to any free text alerts offered by your bank so you know when you are close to going into your overdraft.
If you’re eligible for automatic enrolment into a workplace pension, consider paying in more than just the minimum. Contributions are topped up by your employer.
And if you are aged over 50 and have a defined contribution pension, you can get a free Pension Wise appointment to learn more about taking your pension.