January is the perfect time to banish bad financial habits and get clever with your money. By making lots of small changes you can make a big difference to your finances!
Make a note of you every financial renewal – this will allow you to change phone, TV, broadband, utilities and insurance providers without paying a penalty. Look at comparison website for the best deals – the savings could really surprise you!
If you enjoy a morning coffee from your favourite cafe every day, take a cup with you and see if you can get a discount. If you shop at Waitrose, make sure you have a Waitrose card as you’ll qualify for a take away coffee with a purchase and will get a discount in the cafe.
Make sure you aren’t paying twice for the same insurance. Many high street banks offer travel, mobile phone and breakdown cover as a customer benefit and house insurance policies often cover items outside of the home.
If you need to buy medicine, go for the supermarket brands rather than the branded versions – they work the same and are often the same composition. You could save as much as 10p per tablet.
If you need a will, March is ‘free wills month’, which means anyone over 55 can have their existing will updated or a new one written without charge
Do you wear a uniform to work? If so, you could be entitled to claim tax relief for the last four years of expenses.
Review your direct debit payments and get rid of anything that you don’t use – music subscriptions, books, wine clubs, gym membership, subscriptions…do you use everything you pay for?
If you pay for Sky TV and a TV license, you might want to consider using Internet based TV shows and channels such as Prime Video and Netflix instead. This could save you up to £120 per year.
Are you paying the correct level of tax? When HM Revenue & Customs sends you a tax code, check it carefully. If it’s wrong you could be paying too much tax. Or if you are paying too little you could be hit with a shock bill later on. Pensioners and those with incomes from multiple sources are particularly at risk of being caught out. For help visit gov.uk/tax-codes or call 0300 200 3300.
Is your savings account giving you the best returns? High Street lenders can pay as little as 0.15 per cent on easy-access accounts and Isas. By comparison, Goldman Sachs’s Marcus account pays 1.5 per cent — an extra £13.50 a year in interest on each £1,000 you save and it’s still covered by the Financial Compensation Scheme up to £85,000.
Join your local library – not only can you read as much as you like for free, you can also borrow DVDs and there are often free storytime events for children including Book Bugs in the East Renfrewshire libraries. Membership of some libraries can also now include access to e-books and magazines online.