James Walker: Ten finance tips to help you turn over a new leaf

It's time to look over your accounts, however painful.
It's time to look over your accounts, however painful.
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As the year comes to an end, I’ve been thinking about what resolutions we can all make, so we can have a stress-free New Year. Over 1.4 million complaints were made through the Resolver website in 2017 – and many of you have been in touch to share your stories, tips and guidance. So, thank you all. I’ve got a lot of material to inspire me in 2018.

Here’s a few resolutions to get you started.

Don’t let things fester

If something has upset you – from poor service to errors that have cost you money – speak up. Even if you don’t get everything you want, making your voice heard makes it easier to move on.

Do the ‘January audit’

We all hate this one, but grit your teeth, make a cup of tea (or have a glass of wine) and sit down with your bank accounts and bills. There are loads of free apps or spreadsheets you can use to balance your money. Writing it down empowers you – and is the beginning of regaining control over your finances.

Pass on comments

You don’t have to get in touch with a business just to make a complaint. Lots of people use Resolver to pass on comments and suggestions. If a business could be doing something better, let them know.

Enjoy yourself

Book a holiday, share an experience, go out for a nice meal. But be savvy. Book in advance, use vouchers and discounts and look for tips (MoneySavingExpert has loads of cash tips).

Ask for help

If things go wrong, the sooner you seek help, the better. There are loads of free services out there for help with everything from debts to housing problems.

Be a good neighbour

There will be old or vulnerable people living near you. Check in with them from time to time to make sure they’re OK. Warn them about scammers, help them sort their bills, get the shopping in when you can.

Be less loyal

Millions of us stick with the same banks, energy companies, mobile phone contracts and insurers. You get nothing for loyalty – in fact you usually get charged more. Save the date your contract ends, change suppliers and save. It’s really easy these days.

Get informed

Pensions and mortgages are the two biggest investments most of us will make in our lives. Yet huge numbers of people don’t know how they work. These businesses are making a fortune from you, so make them spell out anything you don’t understand in plain English.

Declutter and help others

As a nation, we may recycle more, but we chuck loads of stuff in the bin that could help other people, from clothes to electronic items and toys. Unless it’s really knackered, someone, somewhere can use it. Check online to find out how to donate.

Set reasonable targets

There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, but don’t get carried away with the resolutions. If you’re giving up smoking and drinking, don’t hit the gym four times a week at the same time – improve your life in stages. If you try to do too much, you’re more likely to give in.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk