New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be just for January. Effective New Year’s resolutions should create a foundation for healthier habits throughout the year. With that in mind, here are ten healthy financial resolutions for 2023 (and beyond).
I will budget effectively
Budgeting effectively means working from the long term down to the short term. In the context of budgeting, the long term means a year. Firstly, that is about as far ahead as the average person can usually see clearly. Secondly, that takes you through all four seasons and everything they bring.
Setting out your finances for a year lets you see your overall pattern of expenses. For example, your energy bills are likely to be highest in winter. Your childcare bills are likely to be highest in summer. You can use this knowledge to ensure that you set aside money at times when your expenses are lower.
As you start to work on shorter timescales, such as quarters and months, you can go into more detail. You will have a much clearer idea about where, specifically, you need to spend money. You will also know what offers are available at that time. You can therefore focus on getting the best deal for your money.
I will research before I buy
There are two key implications of this resolution. Firstly, you will research what you really need. You will think carefully about what you really want. You will also be clear about the difference between needs and wants.
You will do your best only to make purchases that you have mindfully identified as needs or wants. In other words, you will try to avoid impulse purchases and convenience purchases.
Secondly, you will try to get the best value for every penny you spend. In particular, you will give yourself plenty of time to research big-ticket purchases and contract renewals.
I will use credit cards and BNPL astutely
Credit cards and buy-now-pay-later can lead you into financial trouble. Used astutely, however, they can be useful ways to manage your cash flow.
I will take care of my credit score
Looking after your credit score is a bit like looking after a garden. You need to put in the work regularly to get the maximum benefit from it. Check your credit score at least once a year. Once a month is better. You can access basic reports for free online. You just need to register for them.
I will ensure I have an emergency fund
Life happens. Unexpected expenses do come up from time to time. Try not to rely on being able to get credit to cover them. Even if you can, it’s likely to be at a high rate. Have some emergency savings instead.
I will review my insurance coverage regularly
Once a year, review your overall insurance cover. Check if you are missing any coverage. Also, check if you need to increase your level of cover. Insurance companies will generally let you take out new cover and/or increase your cover at any time.
As each policy comes up for renewal, check if you still need it. If you do, think about whether or not you still need the same terms. Then make sure that you get the best available deal on your cover.
I will deal effectively with any debts I have
Assuming you have emergency savings, your next financial priority should usually be to deal with any high-interest debt you have. This may be particularly important in 2023 as it’s very possible that interest rates will head upwards.
I will try to use my full ISA allowance(s) effectively
ISA stands for Individual Savings Allowance but it means tax-free savings allowance. Use as much of this allowance as you can.
I will save for retirement
Old age comes to everyone but the state pension may not. Even if it does, it may not finance the lifestyle you want. Try to build your own retirement fund instead.
I will invest for my future
If you can afford it, try to invest for your broader future, outside of your retirement.