The new year could be one of the best years in a long time for your finances. The economy appears to be picking up – and the tax cuts announced in the latest Budget will soon be flowing into your pay packet.
However, even if you have more money this year, don’t waste it – instead, manage it better than you have before. Here are six financial resolutions worth keeping for 2016.
Dodge price hikes
Your money will go further if you can avoid spending it on things that have become more expensive over the last year.
So wise up on what’s going up in price and what’s getting cheaper – and use this knowledge to guide your spending.
Some of the groceries that have become more expensive over the last year include potatoes, lamb, hot chocolate, olive oil, chocolate, dried fruit and nuts, breakfast cereals and coffee.
Some of the groceries that have come down in price include tea, jam, crisps, mineral water, frozen fish, bread, chicken and pork. Clothes, shoes and furniture have also got cheaper over the last year – but hairdressing and restaurant meals have become more expensive.
Inflation-proof your nest egg
With inflation expected to pick up this year, you can’t afford to have your savings sitting in accounts that pay little or no interest. Otherwise, inflation will eat into the value of your savings.
Consider putting your money into an investment that will beat inflation – one that will give you a good return.
Get independent financial advice first, though. Should you be reluctant to move your money out of deposit, make sure it’s in an account that pays better-than-average interest rates.
At 2.26pc a year, the State Savings 10-year National Solidarity Bond pays one of the best interest rates on a lump sum of €10,000 – though it means you must tie your savings up for 10 years.
It’s easier to get a better rate of interest on regular savings accounts – EBS’s Family Savings account, for example, pays 3pc a year.
Tidy up your driving
With the cost of car insurance surging by almost 30pc over the last year, you could be hundreds of euro (or more) worse off this year when you come to renew your insurance.
So don’t accept the first renewal quote you get from your existing insurer. Shop around and see if you can get a better quote elsewhere. Ask your insurer to match a rival’s lower quote (if you can get one).
Make sure you’re getting all the discounts you’re entitled to such as multi-car and loyalty discounts, money off for buying insurance online and the full no-claims bonus that you’re entitled to.
Don’t give your insurer any excuse to hike up your insurance – and avoid doing anything that could make it harder for you to shop around. Insurers can load your insurance or refuse to cover you if you have a certain amount of penalty points on your licence. So avoid speeding, dangerous driving, drink-driving, using your mobile while driving, breaking red lights, driving on a cycle track, ignoring a school warden’s stop sign – and indeed anything that could add penalty points to your licence.
Earn more money
More than nine out of 10 employers said they plan to increase salaries this year, according to a recent survey by Mercer. Should there be no sign of a pay rise for you, approach your boss – you’re unlikely to get more money if you don’t ask for it.
Be prepared to argue your case and to explain why you deserve a rise. Should you hit a brick wall, find out why – you may need to upskill or take on additional responsibilities. Consider changing job if you feel you’re not getting the pay rise you deserve.
Take your pension off the long finger
Start saving into a pension this year, if you haven’t already done so. The later you start, the more you will need to save each month to have an adequate pension – and so the greater the hit to your pocket.
Should you start saving into a pension plan 10 years before retirement age, you will have to contribute more than five times as much as a person who starts saving 30 years before retirement age to build up the same amount of money, according to the TAB Guide to Money, Pensions and Tax 2016.
Don’t be a dinosaur
Getting up to speed with technology can save you money. Some of the best gas and electricity discounts, for example, are offered to those who get online bills (rather than bills in the post) and who pay their bills by direct debit (rather than by cheque or cash).
Free mobile phone apps such as Whatsapp let you communicate cheaply – you can send photos for free with Whatsapp, for example, (as long as you have an internet connection) rather than paying to send picture messages.
Use Skype for your phone and you can make free calls over the internet to anywhere in the world – as long as the person you are calling has Skype.
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