Every December 31 without fail, my mum would ask me for my New Year’s resolutions. It used to drive me mad, as I had absolutely no interest in setting myself up for inevitable failure.
We both knew there was not a cat in hell’s chance that I’d develop a five-day-a-week gym habit, stop eating chips or give up the bubbles — so why bother?
But since Mum died, I’ve found I rather miss the tradition.
Financial fitness: Household budgets will feel the strain more than ever next year as cost of living rises and tax hikes bite hard
So, in her honour, I have decided I will be writing a list for 2022. And as Money Mail editor, it seems only sensible that a high proportion of them are finance-related.
As we explain here, household budgets will feel the strain more than ever next year as the cost of living rises and tax hikes bite hard.
Anything you can do to put yourself in a stronger position now will be helpful down the line.
So, if you are in need of some inspiration, here are my ten bank-balance-boosting resolutions for 2022…
1. Use my credit card more. This might sound counter-intuitive, but I have a Tesco Clubcard credit card which rewards me with points every time I use it.
To maximise my reward, it would make more sense to use this card for all my purchases, and then clear the balance in full each month. It’s also time I checked to see if I can get a better credit card.
2. Buy Christmas cards now. You can pick up rolls of wrapping paper, packs of cards, ribbons, bows and even new decorations for a tenth of the original price in late December. I did this a few years ago and was unbearably smug about it. I’ll be doing it again.
3. Overpay my mortgage. Although interest rates are now rising, mortgage deals are still incredibly cheap.
Most lenders allow you to overpay up to 10 per cent of your loan each year — as a one-off lump sum or through regular monthly contributions, or using a combination of the two.
You don’t have to go for the full 10 per cent if you can’t afford it — even just £100 here and there will put you in a much better position for when rates are higher.
4. Wait before I buy. If I want to treat myself to anything, I will be giving myself a two-week cooling-off period to make sure I really want it — though I fear this could put my favourite store, Oliver Bonas, out of business.
When I do buy new clothes, I plan to donate or sell an item I no longer wear. There are also several lovely bridesmaid dresses at the back of my wardrobe which I am determined to put on eBay.
5. Cancel a TV subscription. I do not need Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV and Disney+ — two have to go. This will also be a good opportunity to check for any other subscriptions I rarely use.
6. Open a joint bank account. My husband and I will be keeping our own separate accounts, but it would be very useful to have a joint one for bills and shared expenses.
And if I time it right, I hope also to pocket some of the free cash that banks often offer as a switching incentive.
7. Set up power of attorney. This has been on my to-do list since getting married in September.
Power of attorney is a vital document that allows a loved one to manage your finances if you no longer can. It won’t save you money, and there is a fee to set it up, but it could prevent a serious financial headache in the future.
8. Ditch bottled water. I have reusable bottles but never seem to remember to take one out with me and am forever wasting cash on environmentally unfriendly plastic ones. So while it may seem obvious, it’s going on the list.
9. Have a spend-free week. Household bills, food and transport costs aside, I will be challenging myself to one week in January when I buy absolutely nothing. And if all goes well, I might try it every month.
10. Ban unachievable lists. Regularly I write wildly unrealistic to-do lists that only cause me stress. This was my first attempt at kicking that habit, too! I’ll report back next year how I get on with all of these.
Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions for the list, I’d love to hear from you. Write to me at the email address below.
For now, on behalf of the Money Mail team, I wish you a very happy New Year.
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