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How to make the most of your money in 2022, from not joining a gym to watching more TV


The next 12 months could prove financially challenging for both savers and spenders who are being urged to plan ahead to avoid being caught out by rising inflation and interest rates.

January

Always have a ‘why’

Wanting to have more money without an end goal – or “why” – can make sticking to any resolutions tough. Emma Watson, head of financial planning at Rathbone Investment Management, says: “Setting clear goals should help you to make the most of your money and establish good financial habits.”

Go big and stick with it

Anthony Morrow, founder of digital financial advice service OpenMoney, advises: “Decide what big-ticket items you want at the beginning of the year and ditch the rest. Whether it’s a new washing machine, or a winter coat, we all have items in mind that we will be using. It’s just all too often ‘little’ items finding their way into our basket too, so pick one item you need and stick with that.”

… And don’t join the gym

Regular gym-goers will be familiar with having to fight it out over the treadmill and free weights every January, only to have the gym again to themselves by the time February comes round. If you want to get fit in January aim to do it for free. Parkrun.org.uk is a good place to start, or sign up for a challenge such as Cancer Research’s Race for Life. And once you’ve kept at a habit then consider joining a gym.

Before spending big on a gym subscription try out free ways to get fit, such as Parkrun (Photo: Ali Khara/Reuters)

February

List all of your debts

Jay Jaramis, head of employment wellness at HR software firm Employment Hero, suggests: “Make a list of everything you owe and have a plan. It’s so important to build your financial house from a clean slate.”

Don’t buy anything… new

Faith Archer, money blogger at Much More With Less, points out a “buy nothing new” resolution has environmental as well as financial benefits. “Aim to shop from the contents of your own cupboards first, rediscovering and reusing stuff you already have. Otherwise try to source stuff second hand – from charity and vintage shops, auction sites, Freecycle, or by swapping with friends.”

March

Get paid to shop

Archer is also a fan of cashback, where you earn money back on spending you’d do anyway. She says: “Click through from cashback websites such as TopCashback or Quidco when shopping online, use a cashback or reward credit card when shopping online, and sign up for a cashback current account such as NatWest Reward or Santander 123 Lite so you can even earn money back on your bills.”

Pay off your mortgage – earlier

Jinesh Vohra, of mortgage overpayment app Sprive.com higlights that even a few pounds a month can help chip away a mortgage. “We know that these past few years have been quite a financial strain for most people but by foregoing just a latte or sandwich on the run and using that money to put towards mortgage overpayments can really help.”

April

Give yourself a pay rise

Now is also the time to up your pension contributions – if you are in a company pension your employer is likely to match contributions you make. For every £100 you put in a pension, Pension Tax Relief means the Government tops it up by an extra £20, more if you are a higher-rate tax earner.

Do wait for a rainy day to save

Zainab Kwaw-Swanzy, millennial finance specialist at Barclays says savers can take part in the April Showers saving challenge by putting aside £5 each time it rains. “With April typically a rainy month you may end up saving approximately £100 by the end of the month. You can use that to kickstart your savings.”

May

Switch banks

Savers can earn money simply by switching their current account. “Make sure you meet all the terms and conditions as many require you to stay with the new account for a minimum of three months, and stay out of your overdraft in the process,” says Morrow. According to Defaqto, Nationwide Building Society is offering £125 to existing members with a savings account or mortgage, and £100 to non-members, who switch to its current account.

Remortgage while the sun is shining

Katie Brain, insight consultant at Defaqto, says, borrowers should never stay on their mortgage lender’s standard variable mortgage rate (SVR). “Even with the interest rate rises, historically, fixed rates are still low.” Current best fixed rates include First Direct’s two-year fix at 1.24 per cent for 60 per cent loan-to-value borrowers, while a five-year fix with Santander charges 1.34 per cent at 60 per cent loan-to-value.

June

Have an emergency fund

“Everyone ideally should have around three to six months’ salary as an emergency fund and aim to have a standing order in place so any savings go straight out after pay day. Some bank accounts such as Starling, Monzo and TSB even have savings pots to help you do this,” says Brain.

Consider Aldermore’s double access account paying 0.75 percent on balances of £1,000 and above, or Shawbrook Bank’s easy-access account which pays 0.67 percent.

Use more tech

Aseem Munshi, CEO of anti-debt financial app Updraft says multiple cards and accounts can make it hard to track spending. “Combat this by bringing all your accounts into one place with the power of Open Banking. For peace of mind, Updraft allows customers to link up all cards and accounts to create a clear picture of their finances.”

Stick to one TV subscription and share it with friends and family (Photo: NurPhoto via Getty)

July

Limit your subscriptions

Munshi also urges savers to consider ditching, or holding back from, subscriptions. “We are a nation of subscription lovers. From Disney +, Netflix, Amazon Prime through to HelloFresh, Gousto and even Pret for our morning coffee. But they can easily add up. Limit yourself to one subscription for each category and make sure you are sharing with friends and family where you can.”

Delete your credit cards

“Delete credit card details from autofill” is another tip from Munshi. “Having to get up, find your card and put in the details, gives you time to think about if you need what you are about to buy. Also, if you find yourself tempted by marketing emails promoting the latest sales, unsubscribe now.”

August

Watch more ads

If you don’t mind more screen time in 2022 WeAre8 will pay you for watching up to two minutes of ads a day from companies including BT, Audible, and BaByliss. Users simply answer a couple of questions and get paid up to £1 per day. With their earnings, users can choose to pay off their EE phone bill, withdraw the money to their PayPal account, or pay the money forward to a charity of their choice.

September

Beat the energy price hike

Paul Day, support officer at accountants’ well-being charity CABA, says many people are worried about the steep increase in energy bills. “Under ordinary circumstances, you might look around for a better tariff. But as the general advice right now is not to switch, we need instead to find ways of making the most of the service we have. The most important thing to do is carry out regular meter readings. Energy company estimates are rarely accurate, meaning that if you’re underpaying, you’ll have to pay a large amount off in the future. On the flip-side, if an estimate from your provider has you overpaying, you’re spending money that you don’t need to.”

Ask for help

Day also encourages people not to shy away from benefits. “It might not be something you’ve considered before, but if you’re struggling with your finances, check what benefits you’re entitled to.”

October

Take a minute

Gail Goldie, director of savings and lending at Tesco, advises people to take a “daily money minute”, adding: “Set aside one minute each day to check your transactions online. It means that you can get a handle on where you are with your spending, and it will help you spot anything unusual with your accounts.

Set up a budgeting app

You should also aim to set up a budgeting app, such as Yolt or Plumb. Goldie said: “It will give you a full picture of your weekly or monthly spending and show you exactly where that money is going.”

November

Talk about money

Sharing your savings goal with someone, or talking about your money worries can help keep you accountable and help you stay on track as another year looms, adds Goldie.

Invest via Instagram

Female Invest is a Danish financial/edtech company aiming to close the gender investment gap, and is one of Europe’s largest financial education platforms and communities for women, The company was recently highlighted on Emma Watson’s Instagram as “an incredible resource that encourages women to learn about and engage with financials’”

December

Budget like it’s 2023

Watson, at Rathbone Investment Management, says: “Regardless of your financial situation, the New Year brings a new start where we can cultivate good habits and stay on top of our finances. So now is the time to look again at your expenses as well as regular contributions to your savings, investments and pension.”

‘Living off-grid helped us clear £12k credit card debt’

Laura Greenland, pictured, is 32 and lives with her husband Karl, 33 in a campervan in Cornwall. She says: “Up until the start of 2020, my husband and I both had very normal, stable jobs in the travel and leisure sectors. Or so it seemed – until Covid came along.

Although it was a scary time, it was also the catalyst we needed to make a change. We’d been carrying around £12,000 in credit card debt, we had cars on finance to the tune of several thousand, and were completely stuck in the rental trap. No savings and what felt like no way out.

“The pandemic forced us to pause in many ways. We had to sit down and figure what our next move would be if we lost one, or both, of our jobs. Redundancy for me came in June 2020 and thankfully, I’d been freelancing for a few clients prior to losing my job.

“With a tiny bit of momentum behind me, I launched my business in the middle of a global phenomenon. I gave myself six months to match my old salary and against all odds, I made it.

“Around the same time, we decided to do something else drastic. We took out a personal loan of £15,000 and bought a campervan. Everyone thought we were mad but we’d run the numbers. Two years of living off-grid, albeit with a rather large German Shepherd called Bear along for the ride, we were sure we could clear our debt and even make a bit of money on the camper.

“After a shed load of grit, determination and hard work, the business is thriving and turned over £65,000 in its second year. I work as a marketing and brand strategist, and my business is called Ebb, Flow & Grow.

“My husband was able to quit his job in December last year and is now retraining as an electrician. Not only are our debts and personal loan completely clear, but we have savings for the first time ever.

“We’re looking into where to invest our money as we continue working towards future property development projects – our next big goal as a couple.”



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