This content is for information and inspiration purposes only. It should not be taken as financial or investment advice. To receive personalised, regulated financial advice regarding your affairs please consult an independent financial adviser.
A new year, and also a new decade. 2020 feels like a fresh start for many people, and this January is the perfect time to sort through your finances (especially if you’ve had an expensive Christmas). Here at Cedar House, we provide bespoke financial advice to clients in London and across the country, so we wanted to offer some of our cash-boosting tips as you start the new year. We hope you find these ideas helpful, and if you’d like to speak to us about your wider financial plan and strategy you can book a free consultation via:
020 8366 4400 or email@example.com.
#1 Travel costs
Once again, UK train fares have risen. The average extra cost for commuters amounts to about 2.7%, although this is slightly lower than the 3.1% rise at the start of 2019. This means that some annual passes (e.g. Reading to London) will rise by over £100. If you have not yet invested in a railcard or annual pass, then now might be the time to see whether these options can help save you some money over 2020. If you can cycle or walk to work, even better.
For those who spend significant time driving, it can be highly worthwhile to investigate your local petrol/diesel stations and regularly shop at the cheapest one. There are many useful, quick online tools which can help you find and compare local prices without much hassle.
#2 Mobile phones
Many people are still paying eye-watering amounts for their smartphones, often over £30 or £40 per month. If you have finished your contract and don’t need to change the handset, then consider finding a new SIM-only deal. Many of these are on offer for less than £10 per month.
It isn’t uncommon to hear of people paying nearly £50 a month for terrible internet speeds. Depending on your postcode, however, it is possible to find faster, better alternatives which might cost as little as £15-£20 per month. Switching providers might sound complicated and intimidating, but it usually doesn’t take longer than 10 days and quite often an engineer doesn’t even need to come over to your house.
#4 Car insurance
One of the biggest financial mistakes people make with their car is simply to let their insurance automatically renew at the expiry date. Instead, taking 15 minutes to browse for a better deal could save you hundreds of pounds. Many industry experts believe that the best time to shop around is about a month before your policy expires.
Many people are simply unaware of how much their annual energy bill amounts to, but it can be a significant amount. In fact, over 50% of consumers are on some of the most expensive tariffs set by the UK’s “Big Six”, which can result in a £1,000+ annual bill. Some of these providers and smaller names offer cheaper deals if you are prepared to shop around, potentially saving you £200-£300 a year.
This is possibly your biggest monthly expense, potentially exceeding £1,000 in monthly outgoings. So it’s worth considering whether a new mortgage deal could save you significant sums of money over the next 2-5 years. Many people are sitting on expensive standard variable rates (SVRs) of 4% or more when a two/five-year fix at around 1.3% might suit them better. If you are interested in speaking to us about remortgaging and whether it could be worth your while, please do contact us for advice and more information.
#7 Direct debit cull
Paying for a monthly gym membership which you don’t use, and never intend to? What about magazine or online newspaper subscriptions which you hardly read, or unused online streaming services? Consider taking 10 minutes to read through your last 3 months of bank statements on your mobile banking app, and make a list of these wasted direct debits. Cancelling them could save you hundreds throughout 2020.
#8 Debt clearance
In the latter months of 2019, many clients reported getting letters from their banks informing them that APR would be rising to 20% on credit card debt. For those who spent £1,000 over Christmas on their credit card and didn’t pay it off right away, they potentially face an interest charge of £200 in January 2020. Left unchecked, the amount will spiral out of control over the coming months. Deal with debts like these as quickly as possible. For December 2020, moreover, consider building up a Christmas fund throughout the year which can cover your expenses. Your future self will thank you in January 2021!
Of course, as financial advisers, we also need to point out that good financial planning isn’t simply about following cost-cutting tips in the short term. It’s about organising your wealth and finances over the long term to ensure your pension, tax position, investments, mortgage and other areas tie together into one seamless strategy, geared towards a clearly-defined set of financial goals.
If you would like to discuss your financial plan with a member of our team, then get in touch today to arrange a free consultation: 020 8366 4400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.