2022 was a tough year for finances, no matter your income. Make 2023 a better one, with our tips on how to turn things around in the new year.
From switching your bank account to making a calendar of your bill renewal dates, there are plenty of simple and actionable financial promises you can make to yourself, that will help you grow and protect your money.
So, when you’re making your new year’s resolutions, see if you can add any of these money goals to your list to keep you financially fit in 2023.
1. Get your tax return filed early
The deadline for online tax returns for the 2021-22 tax year is 31 January 2023. It’s also the deadline to pay your tax bill, and if you’re self-employed it’s the day you’ll have to make your first payment on account and a balancing payment if tax is still owed from your 2021-22 income.
It’s important to meet these deadlines to avoid any fees or penalties. Filing early also has its perks, for example, you may get a faster repayment if HMRC owes you money for any overpaid tax.
The Which? tax calculator can help you complete your tax return accurately and on time, so you can spend the rest of your year focusing on your other financial goals.
2. Reassess your outgoings
It’s vital to evaluate your current outgoings including your direct debits and standing orders, bills and shopping habits to make sure you’re not paying too much for things you no longer use or need.
Your standing orders and direct debits are a great place to find small but significant savings. This could be anything from unused gym memberships and forgotten subscriptions to outdated insurance on products you no longer own.
Cutting these out, will put money back into your wallet that could be spent elsewhere, or better yet put towards a savings account.
You should also target your supermarket shopping outgoings. You might be able to switch to a cheaper supermarket or try some simple tactics like switching down a range to help you save.
3. Create a calendar for your bill renewal dates
Whenever a household bill comes up for renewal in 2023, don’t automatically stick with your provider and accept their new price.
Which? research has found that even though the ‘loyalty penalty’ has been banned on car and home insurance a large number of customers saw their premiums go up when renewing this year.
Set reminders for the renewal dates coming up in 2023 a week or two before, so you can shop around for a better deal.
Price comparison websites are a great way to see all the current offers in one place. They can help you switch and save money on your home insurance, mobile, broadband, energy, and car insurance bills.
4. Check what financial support is available
If you’re struggling wiht any of your bills, make sure you check what support is available.
You may be eligible for government home grants, for example, which can save money on your energy bills or offer money to help you make energy-improvements to your home.
If you don’t know where to start check our money health check tool below. You can answer seven questions and receive free guidance tailored to your circumstances.
5. Switch your bank account for better perks
One quick win you might not have tried before is switching your bank account.
Many of us stick to what we know and stay with the same provider for years, but you may be able to earn a cash bonus for switching plus better perks such as a fee-free overdraft, access to exclusive mortgage or savings rates and other lifestyle benefits.
Last year, banks were offering as much as £200 to switch to their accounts.
6. Tackle your credit card debt
People in the UK owed over £62.6bn on credit cards at the end of October 2022 according to Bank of England data.
Credit card borrowing can cost a lot of money if you aren’t on a 0% deal.
For example, a credit card charging an interest rate of 19.31% with a blance of £2,000 that you put £100 towards each month would cost you £389.69 in interest and take two years to pay off.
Tackling your credit card borrowing may seem overwhelming, but making a plan to deal with debt head on is the best thing you can do.
A 0% balance transfer credit card can help freeze the interest rate you pay on existing credit card debt and speed up the time it takes to clear what you owe. This type of card allows you to transfer your current credit card debt over to a new card and pay off your balance with no interest added on top. Some come with a one off-fee to transfer the debt, but there are also fee-free deals available.
If you moved a £2,000 debt to a 0% balance transfer card with no fee you could pay back the debt four months sooner with the same £100 monthly repayment and save £389.69 in interest.
7. Get the best rate for your savings
Whether 2023 is the year to start your savings, or you have already some nestled away, make sure it is the year to earn better returns.
After a few years of depressingly low rates, interest rates on savings accounts have finally started to rise.
It’s important to find an account that will help your money grow and keep up with inflation to protect your cash from losing value.
Discover if a savings account or a cash isa is the best option for you and explore how much interest you could earn simply by moving to a different account.
8. Start saving into a pension
Which? research earlier this year found that individuals need £19,000 a year to live comfortably in retirement or, £28,000 if you are in a couple.
To generate a £28,000 income in retirement you would need £204,750 in your pension if you bought a joint-life annuity (a product that pays a guaranteed income) or £144,950 if you planned to go for income drawdown (which lets you keep part of your pot invested while you take a regular income).
The earlier you start contributing to your pension, the less pressure you’ll have to meet your saving targets.
If you are employed it’s worth opting in to a workplace pension. Your employer has to put in at least 3% of your salary and you’ll have to contribute a minimum of 5%, making an 8% contribution in total.
But our research shows minimum contributions need to be closer to the 12% mark to give people a suitable income in retirement.
As an employee, you are entitled to increase your contribution, to help meet your pension targets. Employers can also offer a bigger pension contribution as a perk of employment so make sure you look at the pension offer as well as the salary the next time you move jobs.
Use our pensions calculator to find out how much your pension will be worth and what you need to do to reach your savings goals.
9. Make a plan for the future
Getting your finances in order in 2023 can also mean planning far ahead into the future and protecting your loved ones should something happen to you.
A life insurance policy allows you to leave behind monetary support for your family and loved ones when you die. Depending on the policy, life insurance can replace lost income, pay off your debts, and pay childcare support.
But putting a policy in place doesn’t have to break the bank, read our guide on how to cut the cost of life insurance and get the right policy for you and your family.
Not having a will could also spell chaos and financial worry for family or dependents after you’re gone.
There are many reasons for making a will, but ultimately it can give you and your loved ones peace of mind, and make sure that your money and assets go to the intended people.