It's time to spruce up your spending: have a financially fit 2017

By Rosie Earl
1

The New Year is a great time to start afresh. Along with diet & exercise, why not make your finances fit & healthy?

Kickstarting your financial spring cleaning is easier than you think, and there’s no better day to start. The weather sucks, we’re too broke to shop, so set yourself up at the computer for an hour and follow our beginner's’ guide to 2017 financial fitness.

Lessons learned

Start off with a little bit of evaluation from 2016 - what worked last year and what can you learn from it? Be honest with yourself, and cut anything adrift that is not working for you. For example, last year I wanted to save £200 per month, and by July I was very stressed that I couldn’t do it.

This year I’m going to aim to save £100 per month and if I can save more, brilliant. If I can’t, I won’t lose any sleep about it. For you, it might be that losing track of spending caused you problems last year, so you may consider using an app (some great suggestions here).

Top tip: If anything you did worked really well, give yourself a pat on the back and stick with it. Go you! Celebrate your successes.

Make a plan

Now that you’ve learned from the past, you can look to the future. Get organised with what your incomings and outgoings are. You may want to pop this in a notebook, make an Excel spreadsheet (there are templates available to help you), or an app like Money Monitor to see how much disposable cash you’ll have each month.

Top tip: Don’t forget to note down expenses that come up annually, as you don’t want those sneaking up on you when you least expect them. I set an alert in my calendar to go off a month before they’re due, just so I can keep track of them.

Make savings

If you pay council tax, you can get a quick win as most people pay this bill over 10 months, meaning February and March are no-pay months. You’re used to that money going out each month, right? So, instead of splashing out, put that money straight in your savings. You won’t miss it. Next, take stock of your service providers: energy, broadband, insurances, phone, mortgage. Are you getting the best deal around? Comparison sites like Compare the Market and USwitch make it even easier to check that you’re on the best tariffs.

Top tip: Before you walk out on any existing contracts, double check in case there is a fee for leaving early. It may be that even with the fee you’ll save money, but make sure you’re fully informed before you make any decisions.    

Keep score

It’s now free to check your credit score with giffgaff money and Experian, so there’s no excuses. Having a good credit score can open the door to lower interest rates and more varied borrowing options, so it’s in your best interest to make sure it’s as healthy as possible. If credit scores are a mystery to you, you may want to read this article first to get your head round it.

Top tip: Even borrowing that you’ve paid off affects your credit score, so if you’ve paid off credit cards but never closed them down, they’re still hanging around like ghosts. Make the call to your providers and shut down dead credit cards and store cards once and for all.

Consider consolidation

If you have a number of debts, you may want to put them together by paying them off with one loan or credit card. This can be easier to keep track of and make the debts seem more manageable. Banks and credit card companies often do long periods of 0% interest on credit cards, giving you breathing space to pay it off. You can check out some deals on giffgaff’s credit card comparison or on Money.co.uk  for example, however it’s a good idea to get fully informed about the terms and conditions first. Swot up using Natasha’s  smart articles on balance transfers and consolidation before you start.

Top tip: If you decide to do a 0% balance transfer, set yourself a reminder about a month before it runs out. You can transfer the balance again before you get charged or pay the remainder off if you can.

Top Takeaway

The key to healthy New Year finances is organisation. Get your head out of the sand and make an honest, achievable plan to help you stay on track. Stay informed and make sure you understand any terms and conditions before signing up to a new plan - you should have enough information to be able to make a choice that is best for you.  

By Rosie Earl

Rosie is a massive geek who loves anything Hello Kitty or penguin related. She writes every day and wants to be Caitlin Moran when she grows up. If she was an animal, she would be a baby dragon (with a solid background in finance). The Sorting Hat would have put her in Hufflepuff, and she is cool with that.

Comments (1)

Log in or register to add your comment
Not a giffgaff member? Register now

giffgaff gameplan

Copyright ©2018 giffgaff

Representative example for a loan of £4,000 for 24 months at an interest rate of 15.5% APR fixed. In this example the total amount payable (including interest and fees) would be £4633.57 and your monthly repayments would be £193.07.

giffgaff receives a fee for introducing personal loans to Retail Money Markets Ltd trading as Ratesetter.

giffgaff gameplan is a trading style of giffgaff Limited, we are a credit broker and not a lender and introduce loan applications to its selected provider of loans Retail Money Market Limited trading as Ratesetter. Terms and conditions apply. Finance subject to status. 18s and over. Credit is provided by Retail Money Market Limited trading as Ratesetter, 6th Floor, 55 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 3AS Ratesetter is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority – Firm Reference Number 633741

giffgaff Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Firm Reference Number - 680957. Registered address – giffgaff Ltd, 260 Bath Road, Slough SL1 4DX. Company Number - 04196996.

Posts on this site reflect the opinion of the members posting only, and not necessarily giffgaff’s opinions or views. There’s a lot of information here that can help you, however, you must remember that we operate an open forum and sometimes messages that are posted are misleading, deceptive, or inaccurate. If you follow these tips, you do so at your own risk. Always do your research and check the terms.