With Christmas well and truly behind us, the first thing on sensible minds going into what promises to be a grimly uncertain 2019 will be their finances. We always end up spending more than we meant to towards the end of the year, so the beginning of the year is all about making up the difference by cutting corners. Making savings doesn’t need to feel like pulling teeth though and you don’t need to deny yourself many pleasures and conveniences in order to be more financially responsible. A good start is to make sure you’re keeping track of your spending patterns.
Many of us have a tendency to lose track of how much energy we’re using, particularly in January when it’s so tempting to throw caution to the wind and turn the heating up to counteract the Winter chill. Smart metres can not only be controlled remotely via an app but will give you a more thorough and detailed analysis of your energy expenditure. You can even get one fitting for gas and one for electric, so you’ll know not only when to dial the heating down a few notches, but when to start curtailing those late-night Netflix binge sessions too.
There are a number of apps (many of them free to use) that exist specifically to help you keep track of your expenses. Ranging from simple software that allows you to input your expenses, to apps that link with your bank account so you can’t cheat it! There is also a rise in mobile-only banks currently making waves in the UK, with Monzo currently leading the charge. Monzo became Britain’s best-rated lender last year, so it’s obviously far more than just a fad and these banks are far better placed to help you keep track of your finances.
The rise in popularity of contactless credit and debit cards might have made a few nervous spenders feel like they could let themselves get carried away without feeling like they’ve spent a penny, they are actually wonderful for keeping track of your spending. With cash payments, you’ll need to make a manual note that you’ve made a transaction, whereas using a card, you’ll have an automatic, electronic record of every purchase and every paycheque. Of course, a fair amount of self-restraint is required, but mercifully contactless payments are capped at £30, which will stop you from making any wildly expensive compulsive purchases.
Particularly with January 31st looming and tax bills needing to be paid, short-term personal loans can be a viable solution if your spending has managed to get out of hand and you’re in need of a quick cash injection to tide you over. Likely Loans is one of the few lenders that won’t charge you any hidden fees and offers a very reasonable APR.
It might sound old-fashioned, but if all else fails, keeping a financial notebook can be a more hands-on way of keeping on top of things. This approach, however, requires a fair amount of discipline.