(This post contains affiliate links) 2021 is a big year for me, especially financially, so I’ve found 11 financial habits to make to help me out. This is the year I do a no-spend year (more on that in a bit). I’m also going to be building on a okay year for my finances with an even better one in 2021. It’s important to get into a routine with your finances, doing a little often, rather than a lot once in a while (or so I’ve found). I’ve rounded up my top 11 financial habits to make going into 2021 and how they’ve helped me in 2020.
Set up savings pots
If there are big-ticket purchases you’re after or future plans to save for, set up seperate pots for each. Many banks will let you do this and it’s easy to transfer money across to them. Some I set up scheduled payments, some I round up transactions, some I just transfer amounts every so often.
This year, I have a pot for tax, a car, new trainers, a new phone, 2021 travel (fingers crossed), 2022 plans (I have two weddings to attend) and an emergency fund.
Create an emergency fund
This should ideally be three to six months of your wages, just in case the worst would happen and you lost your job. For freelancers like myself, I just transfer so much every so often because income can be infrequent and unreliable!
Increase your income, reduce your spending
Simple as, it’s the easier way to have more money. Ask for a raise at work, try side hustling or sell old items online. Reduce your spending as much as you can. Go through your previous transations and see where you spend the most money. Bills are usually non-negotiable (unless you can get a better deal) so look at your day-to-day spending. Can you go to the supermarket less but do a bigger shop? Could you switch to a cheaper supermarket? Can you buy your toiletries in bulk so you don’t shop three times a week for them? Small changes make all the difference!
Set up separate bank accounts
It no longer pays you to be loyal to a bank so take advantage of switching perks. I actually prefer to have my money spread across a couple of banks, just in case something happens to them. (Yes, you are covered by the FSCS but I just feel safer)
I bank with three banks: Virgin, Monzo and Nationwide. Virgin is my online spending and bills account, Monzo is my everyday spending and savings pots account and Nationwide is where I have my Help 2 Buy ISA and a basic savings account. As long as you know what each account is for, it’s easy to manage.
Manage your subscriptions
Ah my favourite category: entertainment. Look at all the subscriptions you have: Netflix, Prime, Now TV, Kindle Unlimited, Hayu, Disney+, Apple TV, BritBox, Spotify, Readly and so many more. Do you actually use them? If not, cancel them! There’s no way you can watch or read everything!
You can make use of free trials by setting up multiple email addresses and getting around it that way. I often sign up, pay for a month or so, watch everything I want and then cancel. It means I only subscribe to one or two TV services at a time.
Recently, I bought a new laptop that came with six months free Spotify, even though I’m already a customer. I cancelled my payments, set up a new account and saved myself £60 in the process! Other than that, I only have Kindle Unlimited (6 months half price), BritBox (3 months half price) and Disney+ (£50 a year subscribed early).
You could also see if you can split the bill with someone, be it a housemate, parents, partner or friend on some services. I paid for Disney+ and my friends use it. I use their Netflix and Now TV!
One of my non-negotiable tasks on a Sunday evening is to sit down and meal plan. I plan the following week every Friday, which means I already know what I have coming up that week. I sit down with my calendar/diary and plan my meals around that.
Some days, I might have a Zoom call at 12pm so I know I need an early lunch (I can’t wait until 2pm to eat). Other days, the call could be at 5pm so I try to have a later, larger lunch and a small snack just before, then eat tea after the call.
In our house, we have a running shopping list on the front of the fridge. As soon as you’re down to the last item of something or it’s nearly run out, it goes on the list. Since lockdown, we’ve tried to shop a lot less so we tend to buy in bulk where we can. Most items can be frozen (bread, vegatable, meat) and we stock up on cupboard essentials quite a bit. In fact, we buy less fresh items now because the dates on them aren’t very long!
Never do a food shop without doing an inventory of your kitchen first and taking a list. That way, you know exactly what you have in currently and what you need.
If you work out of the house, you might want to try meal prepping on a Sunday too. Now I work from home, I rarely bother but when I worked in retail, I always took my own lunch and hot drink. If I was working a late shift, I would make a larger portion of tea the night before and have the leftover the following night.
Haggle + negotiate
This works best with bills, such as utilities, phone, internet and TV packages. Just threaten to leave them and they can usually find you a better deal somewhere! Don’t forget to use price comparison websites too!
It’s rare I pay full price for anything so make sure you look for vouchers/codes for money off and use cashback websites to maximise your money!
Set goals for your finances
If you really want to overhaul your finances, I would recommend setting goals. You might be saving for something in particular or just want an emergency fund ready just in case. The best way to start saving is to save small and often. £5 or £10 a week is a great starting point and most of the time, you don’t even realise it’s gone from your main bank account. Set up a savings account with your current bank if you prefer and then set up a standing order. Seeing that pot amount rising is a really proud moment!
Automate as much as you can
In this day and age, everything is done online but many people still pay bills in cash at the Post Office. Set up direct debits wherever possible; it means you won’t forget a payment! This also goes for transfers between accounts. Standing orders are a great way to send money regularly to another account.
Use the 50/30/20 rule
If you’re starting from scratch with your finances, start with the 50/30/20 rules. 50% of your income goes on bills, 30% savings and 20% fun. You could do 30% fun and 20% savings if you have more social plans one month. I switch it up from month to month just by looking at my planner and seeing how empty or full it looks!
Pay more into your pension
Whether it’s a work pension or a personal one, maximise what you can. The younger you start, the better. I’m 27 and only started paying into a pension in September as I’ve only ever worked part-time. Now I’m self-employed, I needed to start taking my retirement seriously! I signed up with Penfold (aff) and set up a direct debit for £60 a month. Currently, it’s enough (£2 a day) but I hope to increase that as the years go on.
MY NO SPEND-YEAR 2021
Realistically, it will be a low-spend year because it’s surely impossible not to spend a penny over 365 days! What I mean is that impulse purchasing will be a thing of the past and all buys will be budgeted or saved for. If I want to save £10k this year, I need to do this! To do this on top of my 11 financial habits to make in 2021, I’ve made myself a set of guidelines, which you can see below:
- business expenses, pension + tax/National Insurance
- regular bills/payments
- subscriptions (for now: Britbox. From April: Spotify. From June: Kindle Unlimited)
- eBay postage/fees/packaging
- 21 items of clothing (saved for in a pot)
- toiletries/beauty products when they run out
- a meal out once a month (when lockdown is lifted)
- two days a month coffee/lunch out (when lockdown is lifted)
- items saved up for with pots: theatre tickets, UK travel. office equipment, new phone, a car, hair/beauty treatments, stickers, gifts, workout gear/equipment
- toiletries/beauty products
- impulse purchases
Whilst I’m hoping for a no-spend year, circumstances may well change. As long as I try to spend as little as possible, save up for big purchases and stick with my 11 financial habits to make, I’ll be happy. I might provide a follow up post every quarter to see how I’ve been getting on and add monthly updates in my monthly round-up posts.
I’m really passionate about making your finances work for you and your lifestyle so these 11 financial habits to make might not all suit you. However, I think you might be able to make even just one or two of them stick and that’s better than nothing!
Are you using 2021 as your year to overhaul your finances? Any of my 11 financial habits to make caught your eye? Leave me a comment below or come and chat on Instagram! I’ll be sharing lots more on my money journey and no-spend year over there!