The first signs of spring – longer days, snowdrops and birds singing – are always welcome, and never more so than this year. Inevitably, this feeling of renewal brings the urge to spring clean both our homes and our finances. Getting on top of your finances not only helps relieve monetary stresses but could also help save you a significant amount every year in interest and unnecessary spending. Here are some easy ways to freshen up your finances and kick start your savings pot:
Create a budget
Understanding where your money goes is the first step to taking control of your finances. Taking the time to make a budget is essential to create a clear view of the money you have coming in and going out of your accounts, helping you avoid overspending, inadvertently wasting money or getting caught out by unplanned costs. Careful budgeting will also mean you can spot areas where you might easily be able to cut costs and put money away for holidays, home improvements or other large items. A simple spreadsheet is an easy way to create your budget, or there are a large range of online budget planners and apps to help you track your finances and keep on top of your cash.
Little things add up
Once you’ve laid out your budget, look for trends. Are there any small items that you spend on without thinking – a daily coffee or takeaway lunches – that really add up? Spotting these and saving the cash that you’d normally splash daily can make a huge difference. For example, making coffee at home instead of buying it from your local coffee shop could save you around £3 per day or a whopping £1000 per year!
Plan your food shops
Planning your weekly food shop and doing it in one go, either in-store or online, could save you hundreds each year. Plan your meals ahead of time, make a shopping list and stick to it, avoiding impulse purchases or ad-hoc shops as much as you can. This will not only save you money but will also minimise the risk of buying food that you don’t need, helping reduce food waste.
Pay off debts
As part of your budgeting process, review your debts. List how much is owed and to whom and, if you’ve been able to make savings elsewhere, you could use them to start to pay off your debts. Depending on the terms, interest charges on credit cards and loans can be significant, so it’s important to get a clear picture of what rates you’re paying and explore ways to reduce them such as consolidating loans or switching credit card debt to a 0% interest card.
Plan for health costs
Everyday health costs such as dental treatment and eye care are often one of the outgoings we forget to plan for. Signing up for a health care cash plan is an affordable and straightforward way to claim money back towards everyday health care expenses such as dental treatment, prescriptions, eye tests, glasses or contact lenses, physiotherapy and much more. With weekly premiums starting at the price of a coffee and under 18’s covered for free on an adult’s policy, plans such as Sovereign Health Care’s Good All Round cash plan also cover treatments that might be seen as more of a luxury, such as sports massage, acupuncture and reflexology, ensuring that you can help take care of you and your family’s health and wellbeing without being out of pocket.
Shopping around for deals can save you cash on your purchases, as well as on important expenditure like household bills and insurance. Handy guides online will talk you through how to find the best deal and avoid paying more than necessary on everyday items such as your mobile phone, broadband, water bills and gas and electricity. Plus, Sovereign members can access Sovereign Perks1 – exclusive online and high street discounts, including cinema tickets and gym memberships, mobile phone and Apple products, and much more.
When your car or home insurance come up for renewal, why not consider using one of the comparison websites to shop around for the best deal. Make sure you don’t leave it until the last minute – data shows that you could save an average of £371.83 if you finalise your car insurance three weeks before the renewal date.2
Following these tips and others for a financial spring clean could make a big difference to your finances quickly and with minimal pain. For other hints and resources, here are some useful websites:
1Sovereign Health Care Member Benefits are discretionary, non-contractual and can be withdrawn or changed at any time. Terms and conditions apply to the use of Sovereign Perks, details of which are available through our secure customer area. Sovereign Perks is managed and run on behalf of Sovereign Health Care by Parliament Hill Ltd using third party partners. Any purchases made by you will be with the relevant third party and not Sovereign Health Care, and will be subject to their terms. All offers may be withdrawn or changed without notice.