Settling into a brand new year can bring mounting pressure to change our behaviour. We’re often bombarded with ‘New year, new me’ messaging and countless reasons to get fit, eat this and buy that. And while we do very much advocate a healthy lifestyle, let’s be honest—a lot of the time, overly optimistic goals are not sustainable. In fact, up to 80%* of people reportedly ‘fail’ their New Year’s Resolutions before the year’s even up.
A much better option is to introduce small and achievable changes to your day-to-day life. This could be as simple as cutting down your sugar (rather than banning it altogether), or working up to a 5K run over a month (rather than promising yourself you’ll do it every day). Thankfully, when it comes to money, there are many small and easy ways to improve your habits and behaviours.
Here are 5 healthy (and achievable) money habits to adopt in 2021.
Set yourself a weekly budget
Whether you’re currently unemployed, have recently been furloughed or are generally just looking to cut your costs, a failsafe way to avoid overspending is to set yourself a budget. If budgets aren’t one of your strong points, set yourself weekly budgets rather than monthly. This way, targets will be much more achievable and constraints will feel a lot less restrictive.
And if you overspend a little, you won’t have long to wait until your budget refreshes again. We still recommend trying to be as strict with yourself as possible though. Apps like Money Dashboard are great for getting an overview of your finances. It clearly shows you what’s coming in and what’s going out and lets you categorise your spending habits. Another option is Emma, which analyses your card spending and notifies you whenever it looks like you’re about to blow your budget.
One of the best healthy money habits is being organised. And what better and easier way to keep on track of your bills than to arrange for them to be sent electronically? (Quick hint, there isn’t one.) As well as saving you the hassle of loose letters lying all over the place and inevitably getting lost, going paperless lets you find and store everything easily in one place.
Simply set up a new folder in your email account for storing said bills, bank statements and insurance policies. Flag those that are urgent and move those that have been paid to a different folder. Some companies also provide discounts and incentives to customers who are happy to receive their bills via email. Say no more.
If you’re stuck in a bit of a spending rut and tend to go to the same place for your essentials, consider shopping elsewhere. Granted, being brand-savvy can sometimes be time-consuming but it’s more than worth it when you think about what you can save. Another top tip—especially if you’re keen to stick to your trusty local supermarket—is to mix up your shopping basket. Rather than head towards the same items you buy every week, consider shaking up your menu by only shopping from the discounted options.
Another great app recommendation is Meerkat, which essentially does the shopping-around work for you. From household bills to pet insurance, Meerkat lets you easily and quickly compare the best deals on the market. Plus, when you make a qualifying purchase through Meerkat, you can enjoy a range of discounts including 50% off selected takeaways. Ker-ching.
Be honest with yourself—and your partner
Often, the most dangerous aspect of having money issues is not the actual issues themselves, but rather the lack of honesty around them. If you’ve been known to bury your head in the sand when it comes to finances, it’s time to open up to yourself. Sometimes, the thought of looking at your bank balance can bring a knot to your stomach, but knowing where you stand financially is crucial. This way, you’ll have a better idea of where you stand and what your weekly budget can realistically be. There’ll be no nasty surprises and you’ll also be less likely to overspend.
And if you have a partner, make money part of your wider conversations at home—particularly if it’s stressing you out. A problem shared really is a problem halved, and often you’ll find some great advice coming your way.
Be mindful, but don’t discount the future
The last 12 months have been unsettling and unpredictable, to say the least. But one of the biggest lessons the pandemic has taught us is to take things one day at a time. While planning is integral to many parts of life (including finances), it’s not always possible to predict everything. Therefore, allow a little flexibility with your money habits. If you need to break the budget one week, don’t give yourself a hard time. Perhaps you’ll find that you’ll be able to make up the shortfall the following week.
Also, be mindful of what you’re actually buying. Ask yourself, do you really need it? Can it wait? Are you able to find a cheaper option elsewhere? And when it comes to the future, build yourself a little bit of a safety net if you can. While saving during these times can be challenging, putting a little bit aside as and when will give you a sense of security about the future.
But if that’s not possible, trust that it one day will be. Be mindful, and take things one day at a time.
And if you’re looking to save money with your transfers, sending money with TransferGo is one of the best money habits you can get into. Sign up here for fast, easy and affordable online money transfers.