Save, make, understand money

How to

12 simple ways to improve your financial situation

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

The year is flying by already – it’s time to start making the most of it. Here are a dozen top tips for improving your finances and general well-being over the months ahead.

Refreshing your finances can be a daunting task, so we’ve broken it down into 12 steps.

Take ‘one small step’

Think about what you really want out of life, then break it down into steps. Your task is now a simple one: do the first step. So if your dream is to own your own home, get yourself a Lifetime ISA and start a savings regime. You can apply this principle to any goal.

Set weekly or monthly goals

Set yourself small, regular financial goals over each week or month – such as saving an extra £10. These are less daunting than aiming at a final sum.

Have ‘dry weeks’ rather than months

Instead of booze-free months, try having one week per month with no alcohol. Not only is it less of a struggle, but it’s also better for you and will save you three times as much money.

Change how you get around

Instead of joining an expensive gym, try changing your travel habits: swap the car for a bike, swap the bus for walking, swap walking for jogging. Over a year, a simple change like that can save hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Get to know your pension

If you have a workplace or personal pension, ask your provider for information about the scheme and check you’re in the best fund for your needs. Also check that you’re contributing enough by following these guidelines.

Take a daily half-hour

Yes, finances can be dull. So schedule maybe half an hour a few times a week, to make sure you give them some attention. By working out how to manage your money better, you can spot the warning signs that may indicate a need for financial advice.

Realise your full value

You almost certainly have an underused skill that someone out there will pay you for. There are now a host of different freelance sites such as Upwork, Toptal, Fiverr, Freelancer and Guru, where you can take on occasional or regular work to supplement your income.

Take charge of your financial ties

If you have financial ties (e.g. a shared credit card) with someone who has a poor credit score, it can harm your own mortgage prospects. Conversely, financial ties with someone with good credit can boost your own.

Give yourself a money makeover

Neglected finances spring leaks. Areas of waste include bank accounts with low interest, a poor mortgage deal, loans, credit card debts and more. So make time to check them all.

Use a digital piggy bank

One of the best recent innovations is the spare-change saving app. Examples of these include Moneybox, Starling, Monzo, Revolut and Chip, and offer simple but effective ways to save without effort.

Have a regular health check-up

A regular check up with your GP could save a lot of money further down the line, such as by helping you avoid conditions that could affect your life insurance cover, or finding out whether you could get an enhanced annuity.

Plan your legacy

You’re never too young to make plans about who should inherit from you. See a solicitor to make your will, and talk to a financial adviser too if your estate might be subject to inheritance tax.

Karen Barrett is founder and CEO of Unbiased, the website that helps consumers find a financial adviser