If you’ve decided to improve your finances for the New Year… | Money

It’s a new year and many of us are looking for a new start after a very difficult year 2021.

We asked a group of experts for their advice on how to solve some of the most common personal finance dilemmas.

I want to spend less money this year, what should I do?

Damien fahy, founder of the personal finance site Money to the Masses

The key to spending less is having a budget – if you can quantify it, you can control it. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help you set a monthly budget, including budgeting and banking apps. I would recommend Money Dashboard and Emma.

Try using the “three day rule” to limit frivolous spending – if you want something, wait three days before buying it to see if you really need it or if you really need it, rather than what. or a momentary impulse.

You can also introduce expense-free days into your week, with the goal of having 24 hours without additional expenses, in addition to essentials, such as food and bills.

How can I clear my overdraft?

Sara williams, founder of the advice blog Debt Camel

Overdrafts are a difficult type of debt to settle because your balance keeps changing throughout the month. But they are also very expensive, so it is a priority to fight. You can be very disciplined and aim to reduce your overdraft usage each month.

Many people find it more convenient to switch to a new checking account without overdraft and transfer all of their banking transactions. This way you can pay off the old overdraft by creating a standing order from your new account.

If you’ve been continuously overdrafted for a long time, never falling back into the dark, you should also look at make a claim for an unaffordable loan. It would depend on whether the bank “performed reasonable and proportionate checks” that you could repay on a sustainable basis. Details at Financial mediation service website.

I need a decent pension. How can I get started?

Steve webb, partner at LCP and former Minister of Pensions

If you earn more than £ 10,000, your employer should pay you an employer pension and make a contribution. Therefore, not opting out is a good start. Then, review your retirement contribution each time you get a raise, as it’s less painful to commit a bit more before you’ve gotten used to the extra income.

Also find out if your employer will do more, if you do more. Many large companies will match the money you invest (up to a limit). Make the most of this “free money”.

Finally, it’s never too late to start. You get good tax breaks for saving in a pension, as well as money from your employer, so even building a little pot is worth it.

How to drive an electric car without breaking the bank?

Melanie Shufflebotham, co-founder of Zap-Map, which provides information on charging and electric vehicles

One of the best ways to get a good value electric vehicle (EV) is to use a wage sacrifice program. Another flexible option is to subscribe to a short-term all-inclusive service such as On, which includes insurance, fees and taxes, among other expenses.

There are also more used electric vehicles available for purchase – try one of the specialist companies, such as Weareev Where Drive green.

Once you’ve secured your electric vehicle, your next step is to install a charging station in your home and sign up for an EV energy tariff with discounts for off-peak charging when available, given current issues. energy pricing.

With this, the costs can be as low as 2-3 p / mile – even less if you can hook it up to solar panels. Alternatively, you can check community top-up via Co-Charger, or take a look at the nearly 30,000 public charging stations on Zap-Map, of which around 5,000 are still free to use.

Energy bills are killing me, how do I save money?

Laura McGadie, energy group leader, Energy Saving Trust

There are a series of simple, straightforward things you can do that will save you money without compromising your health or lifestyle.

First, turn off standby devices and turn off lights when you leave the room. Be sure to protect drafts around windows, doors, floors and baseboards and insulate hot water tanks with 80mm British Standard liner. In the kitchen, install an aerator on the tap – this reduces the amount of water flowing – and only boil the water you need in the kettle.

Reduce the number of washing machine loads you run by one per week and make sure they’re always full. Wash clothes at 30 degrees. Avoid using a tumble dryer – dry clothes outside if possible or inside with ventilation. Limit shower time to four minutes and replace a weekly bath with a shower. Follow all of these steps and you could save up to £ 248 per year.

How can I prepare for my child’s entry into university this year?

Laura Brun, editor, Save the Student

It pays to familiarize yourself with the student finance system and, if possible, save some money to help them get by.

Research has shown that, on average, students receive £ 120.56 per month from parents. But one in eight feels that their parents are not giving them enough financial support. Since maintenance loans are usually calculated on household income, you may find that the government expects you to contribute, thus offering a smaller loan. We have an parental contribution calculator that helps you figure out how much that might be.

Saving to financially support your child, as well as sharing your top money management tips, could make a huge difference.

I want to eat more sustainably, what should I do?

Sian Conway-Wood, author of Buy better, consume less

The first thing is to do nothing – and that is to waste food. Households account for 70% of food waste in the UK, and the majority of food thrown away would have been edible. The cost of this is £ 284 per person each year.

Plan ahead, buy what you need, and take steps to avoid waste. All of these steps are the first steps towards sustainable eating and can save you money as a result. Potatoes, bread, and fresh fruits and vegetables are among the most wasted foods. We are often encouraged to buy in bulk, but they can be purchased in smaller quantities.

Pay attention to how much you actually use and reduce the amount you buy.

I’m afraid of getting ripped off. What steps should I take to protect myself?

Jason Costain, Fraud Prevention Manager at NatWest

When purchasing merchandise, only use sellers or stores that accept card payments. Be wary when answering calls, texts and emails. There will always be the latest neat scam, so whenever you give someone your address, email, or birthday, stop and think. Do I trust them and why do they need it? Many victims are targeted by sophisticated scammers within days of innocently disclosing basic information.

I want a raise, how do I go about it?

Charles Cotton, Senior Policy Advisor at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Do your homework by checking the going rate for similar jobs, for example through a salary comparison website like Glassdoor.

If you are already receiving the average salary, or more, it might be more difficult to justify a raise, so you might want to go for a promotion instead.

If not, be sure to stress this point when presenting your case. Reinforce it further by giving examples of why you deserve a raise – maybe you hit all of your annual goals, or you excelled at a particular project. While it makes sense to talk to your manager first, they probably won’t be able to authorize a raise. Make their work easier by writing down your reasons, which they can share with their colleagues.

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