Thrive on thrift in the New Year

By Marc Lockley , Monday 31 December 2012

The crackers have long been pulled, the champagne corks recycled and the hangover of credit card bills are about to kick in. Now is the time to face the finances and create a New Year's resolution that saves you cash while not being a pain to keep.
Coins and notesIt's the perfect time to take a closer look at your finances

When creating resolutions, people often come at them from the wrong angle. For instance, this old favourite: "I want to lose weight." Is this really the desire, or would you like to feel healthier, increase energy, or fit into an outfit you haven’t worn for years?

The same goes for financial resolutions. Think of the benefits to your objectives rather than the chore: to be debt free; increase your savings; or enjoy a holiday. How much would you need to save to achieve your objectives? How would you feel when you have achieved it? Really visualise it and think how fantastic it would be to see it through.

Look at four areas of personal finance, one for each of the next four Mondays. For example fuel bills, supermarket shopping, monthly regulars and social. Dedicate 20 minutes each week to thinking of ways of cutting down your spend in each area, writing them down in a budget book.

Each time you save some money, log it in the book and tot up your total at the end of each week, paying the savings into a bank account; doing this creates a ‘good’ habit. Once you are in the swing of things, especially when your target gets closer, it becomes a seamless, and even fun, task.

So how should you get started?

Firstly fuel: gas, electricity and vehicle fuel. Look at ways to lower each bill. Search for the best price on fuel and drive more economically. Is it cheaper to car share, use public transport or walk? The latter is certainly healthier.

Read money saving tips for lowering gas and electricity bills. Spend an hour looking at whether it’s worth swapping suppliers by using a price comparison site; it’s incredibly easy and you could save around £250 if you're smart about it.

The next week, focus on your supermarket bill. Use the supermarkets' own brands, keeping an eye out for vouchers. The last five weeks I saved £75 using vouchers and had £80 worth of loyalty points to spend as well. Take advantage of bulk offers by sharing a shop with others or freezing the excess. Plan menus and go shopping on a full stomach, avoiding adding to your shopping list. Think of other ways to save at the supermarket, writing them in your budget book.

How will you plan your third and fourth Monday? What about a fifth financial section that can help you make money to reach your objective?

Before you know it your bills will be paid, your savings will increase and your objectives will be met.

* Negotiation coach and money-saving expert Marc Lockley tweets at www.twitter.com/negotiator1


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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Thrive on thrift

The crackers have long been pulled, the champagne corks recycled and the hangover of credit card bills are about to kick in. Now is the time to face the finances and create a New Year's resolution that saves you cash while not being a pain to keep.

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