10 ways to improve your personal finances in the new year

Discussion in 'Featured Posts of The Find Some Money Blog' started by admin, Jan 4, 2016.

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  1. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    Admin Post
    One of the best times to overhaul and improve your finances is at the beginning of the year. We've made the most of the previous year and now its time to look forward to the future. By establishing a checklist at the beginning of the year to see where you are with your finances makes sense because we've got 365 days in front of us to make a real difference.

    At the beginning of every year your aim should be to be in a better financial position that the previous year, this involves making more money, saving more money and investing more for the future. At The Find Some Money Forum we believe in 10 new years resolutions to improve our personal finance habits. If you can go through these 10 points and find ways to make money, save money and invest money you'll definitely be in a better financial position at the end of the year.


    1. Find a Better Mortgage Rate

    There's so much speculation around mortgage hikes and the odds of rates rising is becoming more probable. If you haven't already checked if you can find a better deal its time to do it now because you could save a bundle of money. Suppose you pay $1000 per month at 4% interest, just reducing the interest rate by 1% will save you $250 per month. Just imagine how you could accelerate your savings, investments and pensions by just spending a day finding a cheaper mortgage rate. Make the call today and see how much you could save.


    2. Find a Better Savings Rate

    If you've got savings and you've not searched for a high interest rate the chances are you could be missing out on the compounding effect of money. Finding the bank account that pays the most will help your savings grow, it will also give you an incentive and a boost to save even more money because you know you're getting a better return. Most people will be more motivated to save money if you can find a 5% bank account as opposed to a 0.5% account because you're getting a hulluva lot more for your money. Suppose you have $10,000 in savings, a 0.5% bank account which is generally what everyone offers will pay you $50, if you can tie your money up for longer and find a 5% account you'll be paid $500 which is a increase of $450.


    3. Find a More Rewarding Bank Account

    More and more banks are offering incentives to switch accounts. In the UK some banks are offering as much as £150 or $230 dollars to make the switch. Unfortunately loyalty no longer matters to banks and if you're willing to do a days work you could switch all your accounts and make a lot of money. Suppose you have 3 checking accounts and you switch all three of them and are paid $200 per switch you could easily make $600 which could go towards your savings, investments or pensions, it just makes sense.

    4. Top Up Your Pensions

    We've all got to retire one day and taking the time to thoroughly check your retirement plans at the beginning of the year just makes financial sense. You should check to see if you're making enough contributions so you have enough in your pension pot to retire when you intend to. By reviewing your pensions every year you'll know if you're on track or have a shortfall. If you've got a shortfall its time to top up your pensions. You should also see what kind of benefits your employer offers and maximize these perks. Find out about employer contribution and all other incentives offered and take full advantage. The earlier you make up any shortfall on your pension the quicker you can catch up.


    5. Consolidate and Eliminate Your Debt

    Racking up debt during Christmas and the New Year is becoming a problem and more and more people are falling into the trap. If you've let the boat out during the holiday periods its time to reign in your finances and debt. Start by getting to know your debt and the amount you pay in interest. Make an aggressive payment plan to clear the Debt before the next Christmas and make a commitment never to get into debt again. Its important to spend only what you can afford to avoid falling into a vicious cycle of dirty debt.

    6. Find Cheaper Energy Companies

    Energy and oil prices in particular are falling from their all time highs as the Saudi's and US embark on a cold price war. This is great news for consumers as we can finally get our hands on cheap energy and fuels. Unfortunately not all energy companies are cutting their tariffs as quickly as they could in a last ditch attempt to make fat profits. Take responsibility and find a cheaper energy tariff and you could be saving hundreds this year. Its relatively painless to switch and its definitely worth the investment in time.

    7. Find Cheaper Insurance Across the Board

    Being adequately protected doesn't mean you have to pay through your nose as some insurance companies will have you think. We can all insure ourselves and families as well as our vehicles and homes for less. Its a days work but its definitely worth it as you could save hundreds if not thousands. The aim is to find out what you're paying and then use a comparison site to find a cheaper quote and then switch. You could go one step further and call the cheapest quote and ask for further reductions as an incentive to switch. Insurance companies will do anything for new business to there is a good chance of saving a bundle here.

    8. Find Ways to Make Cheaper Calls

    If your phone bill is on the rise its time to change the way we make calls. Gone are the days of paying a small fortune to make calls. Nowadays you could make calls on Smart Apps such as WhatsApp to save money. Call your cell phone and landline provider and demand a cheaper deal and threaten them with account closure. Once they get their ass into gear you should end up with a smarter cheaper tariff. Go one step further and act on your threat and cut your phone and cell line. Just have a Data only Sim and make calls on WhatsApp or whenever you have free internet connectivity. Be smart and stop paying phone companies your hard earned money, instead divert all savings into investments and pensions for a rosier future.

    9. Budget Effectively

    This is the year you take your personal finance to the next level by budgeting meticulously. Find out exactly what income you receive and know exactly what you spend and then find ways to shave your expenditure by which I mean cutting your spending by 50%. Find ways to up your income by multiplying your income stream into side businesses. The wider the space between your income and expense the better your financial future becomes. The question you have to ask yourself is is it really worth spending an extra dollar on this item and messing my future security?

    10. Become a Savvy Spender

    Being smart with personal finance doesn't mean you have to go without, it just means that you have to choose your expenditure carefully and get the most out of everything. Make a commitment to become a smart savvy shopper by only spending on what you really need and then taking the time to find the cheapest way to make that acquisition. Embrace quality items which are used so you don't have items that depreciate. I know people who've turned their finances around by embracing used and slashing their expense, anyone can do it and its definitely worth trying.

    Going through this checklist of 10 items will help you outmaneuver your past financial demons and put you in good stead for the rest of the year. Making a habit to do this every year will mean your finances continually prosper. Make this year the year when everything changed for the better, take action and go through this checklist today.
    Ammo_Ram, hamza, Miles and 3 others like this.
  2. Simrin

    Simrin Newbie

    Thank for the list, I always like to go through my finances to see if there's any room for improvement. This year I'm going to try and find a better mortgage rate and any savings that I do make will go towards paying off my capital. Some very good ideas, hope more people can follow this check list because they'll find themselves in a better place financially.
    Ammo_Ram, hamza, Miles and 3 others like this.
  3. Sadia

    Sadia Administrator

    This is exactly what Personal Finance is about. I hate it when people spend hours finding the cheapest toilet paper in an attempt to save money. Its much more important to spend time on things that make a significant difference. I go through my own similar checklist and this year I focused on finding better rates for my savings and finding investment accounts where the initial charge is lower. I was able to find a savings account which offered 1.75% more interest and an investment account which has an initial charge of 0.25%. Both these changes will have an incredible long term financial benefit because of the compounding effect. Its small changes like these that can help you to really get ahead. I enjoyed the post, thanks for sharing.
    Ammo_Ram, hamza, Miles and 1 other person like this.
  4. Tiplady

    Tiplady Newbie

    Its definitely worth going through your retirement plan at least once a year. Its so frustrating to see friends and family who don't give a second though on their retirement plan until its too late. Fortunately I started early and I made it a habit to check if I'm on track to hit my retirement date. You're right about finding shortfalls early because it becomes impossible to hit your retirement date when you haven't got much time for the investment to grow.
    Ammo_Ram, Sadia, hamza and 2 others like this.
  5. Tiplady

    Tiplady Newbie

    I know what you mean, I know people who give themselves a pat on their back when they find the cheapest price for an item. They spend hours searching the net for bargains and never concentrate on real fundamentals of personal finance. Even if you don't have any personal finance decisions to make its better to concentrate on upping your financial IQ rather than finding bargains. I guess its OK to find a bargain but you should be aware of how much time you spend doing it.
    Ammo_Ram, Sadia, hamza and 2 others like this.
  6. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    Admin Post
    You're welcome and its good you're finding a better mortgage rate because there's some really good deals around especially at the start of the year when the Banks are competing against each other? You can probably find a rate between 1% and 3% if you're in the UK and a little higher if you're in the States. This simple change made such a difference to my finance when I did it. I was on a Fixed Rate Mortgage paying 4.74% and I was able to slash this to a 1.49% tracker saving me nearly £400.
    Ammo_Ram, Sadia, hamza and 1 other person like this.
  7. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    Admin Post
    It frustrates me too because these people who don't bother putting any thought into their retirement are sitting on a time bomb. These people are probably relying on the government for some sort of provision but it wont happen because the government can't support so many people. Retirement age will rise to ridiculous ages like 75 to 80 and pension rates will fall to a point where old people fall into poverty.
    Ammo_Ram, Sadia, hamza and 1 other person like this.
  8. Miles

    Miles Newbie

    A very useful list! In addition to all these points I also try to remove as much clutter from my life as possible. I spend a few days just rounding up all those pesky items which I impulse bought and then sell them on eBay. I've become a much more disciplined spender because I reflect on the rubbish I buy and try to avoid making the same mistake twice. My home is now completely clutter free and I've only got about 100 items including my clothes in my home which makes life so much easier to handle.

    I also like to go through my paperwork throwing away stuff I don't need and cataloging important documents on apps like Evernote so I don't spend so much time looking for stuff. I would definitely recommend Evernote if you want to sort your paperwork so you can save time to do more important things like making money!
    Ammo_Ram, Sadia and hamza like this.
  9. hamza

    hamza Newbie

    I've worked in a Bank and they definitely push better mortgage deal at the beginning of the year. My guess is all the best rates will be available on the 3rd week of January and more business will be put through in the final week of January. So the best time to find a better rate would be after the 20th. I'm keeping a close eye on the mortgages rates available and cleaning as much of my credit file as I possibly can so I can be eligible for the best rates. If I can reduce my mortgage rate by just 1% I'll be saving about $320 dollars per month so it definitely makes sense to concentrate on this. Excellent checklist.

    In addition to all of these excellent points I would also go through all my Bank accounts to check if there are any rogue payments going through. On so many occasions I've forgotten to cancel regular payments and ended up losing money and time to get the money back. As a good housekeeping rule I like to regularly go through my Bank Account and cancel any regular payments I don't recognize.
    Ammo_Ram and Sadia like this.
  10. hamza

    hamza Newbie

    Great Idea Sadia, I like to think of myself as a self proclaimed personal finance Guru but I never thought about finding an investment account with lower charges. My investment account currently charges 1% which I thought was low so if I can change it to 0.25% I'll be hitting my investment goals even quicker. Which investment account offers 0.25%?
    Ammo_Ram and Sadia like this.
  11. Sadia

    Sadia Administrator

    Thanks. I'm with Fidelity and I invest my regular income into passive index funds which have really low charges. I've invested in some HSBC index funds and have paid only 0.25% in charges. It might not seem like a lot but nearly all investment Guru's advise long term investors to invest regularly in passive funds with the lowest possible charges. I guess time will tell.
    Ammo_Ram likes this.
  12. Ammo_Ram

    Ammo_Ram Newbie

    I always take out my previous years budget and create a new one at the beginning of the year and try beat the previous years expenses by at least 10%. I've been doing this for a long time and its getting harder and harder but its definitely doable. I'm going to concentrate on lowering my mortgage payments by finding a better rate because I was too late last year. I'm also going to concentrate on lowering my grocery budget by buying in bulk and cooking in batches for maximum effectiveness and ruthless efficiency.

    The only other thing I'd add would be to maintain all of your appliances. Once a year I thoroughly cleanse all of my appliances and gives them a proper servicing. I try to repair any furniture to avoid expensive purchases and I also go through the entire structure in my home to find any cracks that might lead to bigger problems in the future. Remember a penny saved in a penny earned.
  13. Ammo_Ram

    Ammo_Ram Newbie

    Thanks for the tip, I have most of my money in cash and its just sitting there. I suppose I can drip feed this into the stock market over a long period of time and invest in index funds with really cheap charges. I was thinking about index funds diversified all over the world, what are your thoughts on this?
    Sadia likes this.
  14. Sadia

    Sadia Administrator

    When you go through your retirement account find how much you're being charged. If you can find a similar provider you could probably have your retirement account transferred over to the provider with the low charges. Also check the funds you've invested in and see if you can find funds which charge less. If you're paying about 3% in charges and you can switch to a retirement account which charges 0.25% you'll be making progress much faster.
  15. Sadia

    Sadia Administrator

    I have my index funds diversified all over the world but at different proportions as follows:

    50% in US Index
    30% in European Index
    15% In Japan Index
    5% In World Index

    So far the volatility has been in check and even if my portfolio goes negative I know that index will always go up in the future. Hope this helps.
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