I’m not really a fan of New Year resolutions. I might have the best intentions, but life can get in the way so they become little more than forgotten promises.
However I do find January a good time to reflect on what I’d like to do a little differently in the coming year, especially with money.
So this blogpost isn’t so much a list of New Year resolutions, more my aims and challenges I’ll set myself to make sure I make the most from my cash over the next 12 months.
They won’t all be relevant for you, and you might have other priorities, but hopefully they’ll help you focus on what you want to do with your money in 2016.
Keep track of everything I spend and save
In 2014 I wrote down every penny and pound I spent as part of my Save-Ometer series of blogposts. I then calculated how much I’d saved by being clever with my cash. I did this every day for the whole year and it was quite an undertaking. But it had a couple of benefits.
First it was handy to show you I was prepared to put my money where my mouth was and prove real savings could be made from reading my blog.
But more importantly it really helped me keep track of how much I was spending and how much money I was saving for the wedding.
As I said, it was surprisingly labour intensive to write down every single item and work out the potential saving, so I gave it a miss last year.
But I’m going to try do it again in 2016 and I’m excited to see if I’ll be able to match – or even beat – the £14,000 of savings I made in 2014.
Top tip for you: There’s no need to be as extreme as I am with writing down things, but it’s worth making note of all your spending for a month. This’ll give you a useful insight to where you could cut back or where you are potentially wasting money without realising.
Plan for now and the future
The last few years have been dominated by saving for our wedding, the two years before that by putting money aside for a big South America trip and before then saving for a deposit for my home. This has meant I’ve not been thinking about other things, and now I’ve got the time to pay attention to them – and plan.
Now I’m without a big savings project for the first time in about six years, and the danger is I’ll be less motivated to save if I don’t have a goal. So the first plan is to make sure that doesn’t happen! I’ll be setting up a standing order to a savings account each month as soon as I’m paid. This way I won’t be tempted to spend it elsewhere!
The second plan is to look into is my income in retirement. I’ve had pensions with my different employers for years, possibly a decade, but I’ve no real sense how that will turn out in 30 or 35 years. So I’ll be exploring what I’m likely to have and see if I need to pay more into my pension to achieve a decent income when I retire. Scary stuff but important.
It’s not all long term – there’s plenty I can do in the short term. I’m also going to begin planning what I’ll eat each week. Apart from the environmental and health benefits of avoiding food waste, there’s also a decent financial boost to be found.
Top tip for you: Work out what’s the most important thing you want to do with your cash this year. That’s your goal to think about when you’re spending and saving.