Miss MoneySavvy: Get Your Finances in Order and Make 2013 the year to save money!

We are full to the brim with New Year Resolutions, so adding another to your list (especially when it is the last day in January) is not going to be high up on your to do list. But don’t give up on this post just yet, as reading it could help you save a bit of your hard earned cash… and here’s why.

Why should we be saving?

It is a good question, but one that is easy to answer: To plan for a better future for ourselves and our family. And another good reason, saving a small amount of money now will amount to a much bigger saving down the line. So what are you waiting for…

How To Plan

One of the best ways to plan for the future is by looking at your past bills. Work out what your fixed monthly costs are and total that up. This is the amount of money that will remain the same each month and will include things like rent. Then take a look at your variable costs (these are bills that fluctuate in cost depending on certain factors, for example, your heating bill). When looking over these costs work out what you could be spending less on and even maybe do without. Often heating bills go up in winter as we all switch our heating on, perhaps you could just simply alter your heating by turning it off an hour earlier each night (just make sure you wear an extra pair of socks in bed). Also, your food bill is another place where you can look to save money. All these variable costs can be altered and even the smallest changes can make a big difference further down the line.

Once you have done this, set yourself a realistic budget. And then for the hard part… stick to it. Be disciplined. This will sometimes involve saying no to things, which can make you feel quite boring. So instead, organise fun low-cost social get-togethers like movie nights at friends’ houses, or dinner parties where each guest contributes something. Planning your finances and being clever about money can actually be quite fun.

Three Top Tips for Saving

1. Use your commute as your exercise for the day. Buying a bike for your journey (check out whether your work has a cycle scheme as many do) or signing up to the Boris Bike scheme are both brilliant ways to not only save yourself the money you would spend on travel but they are eco-friendly too. Not that keen on cycling? Why not run? One of the best investments you can make for your health and in order to save money in the long run is to buy a light-weight rucksack to transport all the things you need to and from work. It often just takes a bit of forethought as to what you need to pack for the day ahead.

2. Avoid a high-interest loan at all costs. Instead, if you are in great need of some extra money whether it is for improving your home, something serious to do with you health or anything else that is important to you, take a sensible loan that is both affordable and well-thought through. Never rush into a loan that you do not fully understand in terms of its repayments strategy or that you have not worked out how you are going to pay back.

3. And lastly, bring in your own lunch. The mark up on sandwiches and salads that you buy in cafes and other lunch spots is huge and you will instantly save yourself a notable figure by just cutting out all store bought lunches. Instead, make delicious sandwiches at home. A favourite combination is rye bread with humous and left over roasted vegetables, followed by a small handful of cashews plus an apple and accompanied by a large glass of tap water. Buy teabags to have at your desk so that you make tea rather than buy it. And stock up on lovely fruit from a local farmers market (seasonal stuff if possible as it will be fresher and cheaper) to snack on stopping you from caving in at 4pm and splurging on a bag of overpriced crisps at your office canteen.

Clydesdale Bank’s instant decision loan offers an APR representative of 5.1% on all loans between £7,500 and £15,000 (subject to conditions). http://www.cbonline.co.uk/personal/loans/personal-loan