January is the perfect time to banish bad financial habits and get clever with your cash.
Here are some top tips for how to save — and make — money in 2019.
Gather all your paperwork and make a note of every important financial anniversary in a diary.
This includes your home and car policy renewal dates, vehicle registration and WOF, car insurance renewal, mortgage renewal, energy tariff and broadband deals. It means you'll never miss a deadline or be taken by surprise by any of your bills.
Stick up for yourself. Don't be afraid of complaining if you feel you have been wronged. You never know, you might get a voucher or your money back. If you have received good service, it can also pay to praise companies. Some firms send customers a voucher or free gift as a thank-you for the positive feedback.
Check you are not paying twice for the same insurance. Many bank accounts offer free travel, mobile phone and breakdown cover.
Home insurance policies also often cover items outside the house. Be sure your spouse and children aren't paying for separate cover when they are protected under your policy.
Avoid wasting money on branded everyday medicines such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and antihistamines. Just because the tablets come in a shiny box does not mean they will work better. Generic options, often sold under the home brand, have exactly the same chemical make-up.
If you need to ring a financial company such as your energy supplier or home insurer, record the phone call. It could be useful evidence if you later need to resolve a dispute. This strategy also works well if you get into an argument with staff at a store.
You can download free apps on most smartphones such as Call Recorder. You can also buy gadgets to record calls on a landline.
Review your direct debit payments. Axe any unused subscriptions and consider switching expensive gym memberships for cheap fitness classes at your local leisure centre. Zumba is way more fun than the hellish repetition of lifting weights in any case.
Embrace loyalty programmes. Many traditional stores now use loyalty cards to keep customers coming back. Countdown, New World and many other offer discount rewards for loyal customers.
Also, if you have a caffeine habit, go to the same shop. Most coffee shops offer free drinks to loyal customers once you've collected enough stamps. Even better, make your own coffee at work.
Join your local library and read as much as you like for free. You can also borrow DVDs. Just be sure to return books on time to avoid a fee. As an added bonus, your local library will also run events for kids from time to time.
Set up a direct debit for savings to leave your account as soon as your salary or pension lands each month. It is much easier to know from the start of the month how much you have to live off. To squirrel away a bit extra, try one of the many savings apps floating around.
Cut your energy bills by carrying out simple DIY draught-proofing at home. The cost of heating a home increases exponentially if all the hot air simply sneaks out of gaping holes across your home. Paying a professional to sort it out might set you back in the short run, but it will save you a massive amount in the longer term.
If you've reached 65 years of age be sure to take advantage of the extra discounts on offer. Every dollar cut off by your SuperGold card is worth it.
Get the right credit card. If you need breathing space to clear old debt, move it on to a 0 per cent balance transfer card. Also, make sure you don't end up relying on high-interest loans to make ends meet.
Check local groups for bargains. If you are online, enter your location into Facebook to find people selling items near you. Also, don't forget about Trade Me. There are still great deals floating around that are worth a look.
Switch your energy provider. Visit whatsmynumber.org.nz and see which energy provider could give you the best deal to meet your needs. You'll be surprised how much you stand to save.
Haggle with your insurer. Never accept a renewal quote for the likes of home, car and breakdown cover without shopping around first. These days it's easy to visit a competing company website and get an instant quote.
Invest in a slow cooker. Cooking accounts for about 4 per cent of the average gas and electricity bill, and slow cookers use up around the same amount of energy as a traditional light bulb. They also use around a third of the energy as an electric oven.
Try the 1cent savings challenge. Put aside 1 cent at the start of the year and then add 1 cent to that amount every day.
So save 1 cent on the first day, then 2 cents, then 3 cents and so on. If you start the challenge on January 1 and keep it up, you'll have saved nearly $700 by December 31, according to research by investment firm AJ Bell.
Learn to say no. If your friends want to hit the town for the night, politely decline or offer a cheaper alternative. There's no reason you should pay $10 for a bottle of beer that costs around $2 at the liquor store.
Remember that the human mind is adept at convincing you that you need or deserve something. You probably don't. And if you do, you can probably wait until you've saved up enough to buy it without raiding your savings account. The best way to avoid the guilt is by setting up a separate savings account with a specific target within your banking app. Once you've met the target, you can then splash out.
Stop procrastinating with household chores. The longer you leave that dilapidated fence, the more expensive it's going to be to replace. Look to maintain your household items. It will help to prolong the lifespan and ensure that you don't have to spend a fortune on a complete replacement.
- Daily Mail