Now that December's done (and more importantly Christmas) it's time to get our finances in order.
It’s no secret that London is home to some of the highest living costs in the world.
The median annual salary for London is £34,473, but there are many people – especially young people – living on well below this.
After rent and bills are paid, the remainder of pay packets go to food and necessities – so how are we meant to save for that big holiday or to get out feet firmly on the property ladder?
In light of Financial Capability Week this week we spoke to Andrew Johnson, Advice Manager at Money Advice Service who has revealed his 13 top tips for saving when you live in London.
1. Loose change adds up
By the end of the week, many of us have a few coins left over in pockets and purses – and even down the back of the sofa. Gather up these odd coins each week and put them in a jar. Even just a £1 a week in loose change will give you a cushion of over £50 by the end of the year. Looking after the pennies really can mean the pounds look after themselves.
2. Keep track of what you spend
Sometimes it’s hard to know where the money goes. Try keeping a spending diary for a week or two where you write down everything you spend from the smallest stick of chewing gum to filling the tank with petrol. This will help you identify items you might be able to cut back on.
3. Reconsider your smoking habit
If you smoke 15 cigarettes a day, that’s costing you almost £2,000 a year. If you’d like to kick the habit and boost your savings into the bargain, get the NHS on your side. Use the NHS cost of smoking calculator to help you give up smoking.
4. Make sure you’re getting the best deal on your bills
Shop around for the best deals for your phone, internet and fuel bills and review your suppliers every year to see if you’re still getting a good deal.
5. It’s all about the side-hustle
There are no simple ways to increase your income. Possible options might be take on extra work – perhaps a job you could do from home, such as child minding, or turning a hobby into a small business, selling things you make. If you have a spare room, you might think about taking in a lodger.
How to find places in your budget where you can save
6. Do up a budget
The best way to assess what you are spending and get control over your finances is to complete a budget. Our free Budget Planner puts you in control of your household spending and analyses your results to help you take control of your money. Alternatively try keeping a spending diary for a week or two where you write down everything you spend from the smallest stick of chewing gum to filling the tank with petrol. This will help you identify items you might be able to cut back on.
7. Have a goal
Having a savings goal can help determine which account is best for you. If you have more than one goal you could use different accounts for each one.
8. See if your bank offers bonus rates
Some accounts may offer a high bonus rate which is designed to tempt you in – but bonuses drop off after a certain period. If you don’t have time to keep switching, avoid accounts offering bonus rates and look for a rate that’s been more stable historically.
9. If you don’t know where to start with bank accounts, try comparison websites
Best buy tables and comparison websites are a good starting point for anyone trying to find a savings account tailored to their needs. Not all comparison websites will give you the same results, so make sure you use more than one site before making a decision.
10. Set up a savings account
If you want to earn a bit more interest then consider a regular savings account but remember, with these types of accounts or fixed term accounts you might not be able to access your money immediately without paying a penalty.
What is the best way to create a budget?
11. Review your budget every few months
Life is unpredictable so try to review your budget and your spending if there’s a change, or at least every couple of months. You might get a pay rise, which means you can save more, or you might find your household bills increase.
12. Put time aside to manage your money (like you put time aside to go to the gym, see friends etc)
Taking the time to manage your money better can really pay off. It can help you stay on top of your bills and save £1,000s each year.
13. Use an app to help you budget
There are also some great free budgeting apps available and your bank or building society might have an online budgeting tool that takes information directly from your transactions. Just grab as much information as you can about your income and spending (bills, bank statements…) and get started.
If you need advice on how to save or budget, you can contact the Money Advice Service, which offers a free Budget Planner online