How about a MONEY diet for 2019? I think January is the worst time of year to attempt giving up food or drink. It’s cold, dark and summer is miles away – why make your life more miserable? However, seeing as everyone (including me) has overspent during Christmas, it’s a prime time to cut down on cash rather than calories and get your finances into shape. Here are my five ideas to help start a new regime or check out our money diet video here.
1. Move to a 0% credit card
If you’ve got a hefty credit card bill, consider moving to a different card which offers 0% interest on the balance for a fixed period of time. At the moment, SMM likes the Post Office Mastercard which has 0% for 32 months, although you’ll pay 2% of the balance to transfer. Also worth a look is the M&S Transfer Plus Mastercard which has 28 months at 0% but costs 0.99% to transfer.
You must use the zero-rate time to pay off the balance in full. Don’t be tempted by any 0% rates on new purchases. That’s the equivalent of eating 50 Mars Bars.
2. Start a fun saving scheme
This can be done just by yourself or better with a friend. For example, there’s the 365 scheme where you save daily, starting from one penny, and save a penny more every day. So you start with one penny, then save 2p the next day, 3p the next day and so on until you reach £3.65 on the last day of your year. It’s possible to collect about £700 in this way. Or you could try to spend only £40 a week for four weeks and so on. There are also some helpful apps out there, such as Moneybox, which rounds up everything you spend to the nearest pound and sweeps the spare change into a saving account.
3. Never pay full price
There are zillions of websites which can help you to get brilliant bargains. If you want designer stuff, visit Brand Alley, for example, or check if your preferred label has an online ‘outlet’. Find the best prices on food at My Supermarket and on white goods, tech and other products at Idealo* (see my experience here) or Pricespy. You can even get an email alert from these sites when your desired item reaches your preferred price.
Finally, you can get money back on purchases made through cashback sites such as Quidco* (where we've arranged an immediate tenner back for SMM readers who join up) and TopCashback*. And of course don't forget to cut your utility and insurance bills by going through comparison sites such as uSwitch* and Compare the Market*.
4. Use what you have
Now is the time to use up all the soaps you’ve ever pinched from hotels and whatever else has been loitering in the back of the freezer or cupboard. Think about upcycling too: can you mend and make do with something you have already? This is also good for the environment as it saves on waste.
5. Save at the beginning of the month
Don’t wait till the end of the month to put aside whatever’s left – there won’t be anything. Make sure your saving goes out on the same day (or the day after) your salary gets paid in. Then it’s done and you don’t need to worry about it. You may even totally forget about it. Alternatively, if you’re worried about making it through the month, start by saving small amounts first to see how you get on.
Check out our SMM guide to savings accounts here.