I’ve had quite a few chats with people about financial decisions recently, many of which may take a long time, maybe years, to bear fruit; pensions, investments, even small, regular savings.
What was interesting about this, is that in fact most of these were not actually complicated or involved decisions. In fact, they mostly involved just getting started - then sitting back and being patient.
It is often that first step that is the hardest.
So, what would you recommend as a simple ‘first step’ someone could take this weekend that could have a lasting effect on their money and ‘financial wellness’?
I’m going to be a tad controversial here and I’m braced for the abuse but a good one would be swap the going out weekend drinking session for the gym instead! Double whammy, health benefits and save money. You would probably pay for gym membership the first night you forfeit. Of course granted it most certainly is nowhere near as much fun!
Yes it certainly will. I’m not sure how true this is but I’ve read somewhere that there has been a dramatic increase in average household savings as a direct result of people not going out spending during lockdown.
I find that although the site you mention is useful, it is so busy - and I have to admit I find some of the participation a tad aggressive (or maybe dismissive?), so I’ve not used it much myself. I maybe should, or else we can get the best advice here instead!
Lots of good ideas, though some are more involved that a simple weekend activity, such as remortgaging even if it is a good idea to keep this under review. As for ebay, I have mixed feelings based on our experience, but if it works for you, then why not!? That is a site that does reward patience and building experience and is not easy to work to your advantage straight away!
I should probably review my utility bills - I am with a 100% renewable provider which is important to me, but there are now a few alternatives in this category. Does anyone have any favourites (not just based on the sign-up bonus!!).
[oh, please don’t flood the topic with referral links folks. I appreciate the way @dan_g did this. If you have a useful comment and could offer such a code, make that known but let’s leave it for others to ask for it in a private message, please]
The important advice about debt is probably the most impactful. This is the kind of thing we maybe avoid thinking about, but sorting it can make a huge difference to your life. Thanks so much for all the suggestions.
There has definitely been a rush for people to stash the cash away (if they have it) and that is one reason that savings rates on offer have collapsed.
I think @dan_g’s list is ideal and definitely most things the rest of us would’ve mentioned!
A few things I would add:
Change cars where possible - from personal experience, as long as it gets you from A to B it doesn’t need to be fancy (for now), if you have an expensive car then get something cheaper, and you can save the money and earn some interest!
Maybe even switch transport methods, if you do or don’t drive, to a cheaper alternative?
I’d say use survey sites, they take a short while to add up but if you can spare 15 mins a day to answer a couple here and there, the money adds up plus they have boosters all the time… I use https://www.swagbucks.com/ (they provide a boost for referrals too)
Also, where possible, remember referral codes normally boost up your savings/cashback/reward credit cards and practically anything, when you look into it! Ask friends or family if anyone has an account so they can refer you to get you started or, for anyone on this forum, create a topic and I’m sure someone can PM you a referral code if they have one relevant!
Switching supermarkets or to cheaper alternatives (Aldi or Lidl or own brand food) for supermarket shopping.
Finally, watch Martin Lewis (he is currently on every week), he normally provides good suggestions for this too.
I imagine that the car question is interesting and will be quite different whether you are living in a major city or not, and if you have dependents (kids or parents) to take care of. I’d love to lose the car to be honest as I live in London, but my kids are still at home and although we take as much public transport as possible, we still need the flexibility of the car for shopping, activities that are ‘off route’, etc.
I’m keen on an electric car, but the extra cost for the limited miles I do is definitely a false economy despite the theoretical savings. Has anyone else found that?
I think the hardest is the switch of the regular shop. Most of us don’t necessarily think we are loyal to a brand, but at the end of the day, we know where to find stuff, how much it costs, how to complain or get refunds, what our options are, and so on. A switch like this is actually hard, at least for those of us who’ve built up (bad) habits for years!
On a related note though, I have to admit I took our advice … and switched energy supplier this weekend! I switched to one offering me £100 (plus £50 to my colleague who referred me) and the flexible tariff I was thinking of, so I feel good!
While I support all the good money saving stuff that has been suggested in this thread, if I had to do one thing (as a first step), it would be to do a Statement of Affairs (aka an income and expenditure form) so that you actually know how much income you have incoming and where it is currently going.
a critical point about any ‘financial wellness’ planning is not just the things you need to change, but understanding your current position (properly) and focusing on defining your goals and priorities
I seem to recall advice along the lines of: “If I have 6 hours to chop down a tree, I need to spend the first 4 hours sharpening the axe”
(maybe use 15 minutes to clear the area too though?)