How to budget in 2020
The new year symbolizes a fresh start and a chance to make changes in your life. You may feel the pinch after a period of heavy Christmas spending, and, given the current financial and political climate, it’s easy to be sceptical about the future in 2020. A third of people expect their financial situation to worsen in the new year.
However, if you shop well and put together a budget planner, you can start to plan your finances for next year and save money during these uncertain times. Here are a few top tips to get money-savvy in 2020:
Go shopping during the sales
If you are planning ahead for special occasions (such as birthdays, Christmas or Halloween) in 2020, then start shopping when the retailers have their sales on – it’s a sure-fire way to save a few pennies.
High street and online retailers hold sales throughout the year and there are bargains to be had, if you keep an eye out. You could sign-up to mailing lists to be kept informed of when your favourite shops are having a sale or offering discount codes.
If you can afford to, you’ll find that the best time to buy seasonal clothing is just after the season has finished. You can already start to plan for the following year or two, if you grab your winter coat/ swimwear/footwear in the off-season. You’ll ideally have a bit saved up to do this (as it’s not a priority purchase) but, if you have some spare cash, you can save some money!
Arguably, the best time to buy all of your Christmas clothing, cards and decorations is after the festive season has finished. Shops will be offering great discounts on Christmas stock and presents, which means this is the prime time to grab a bargain. The same principle applies for Halloween, if you’re keen on celebrating it.
Think about your weekly shop
It might sound simple, but where you choose to buy your food shopping will have a big impact on your outgoings each month. With the growth of online shopping and discount supermarkets popping up around the country, there are deals to be had on your weekly shop, if you look in the right places.
Consider bulk-buying the staple foods, such as pasta, rice, sauces and tinned goods, so you always have a meal ready to make. Supermarkets tend to offer multi-buy offers on meats, frozen goods and soft drinks, so look into buying for the next few weeks, rather than the next 7 days. It’s also worth putting together a weekly shopping list and sticking to it, to make sure you don’t spend money on things you don’t need.
Take the time to shop around online, and look out for first-time-customer discounts. Several supermarkets offer discounts to entice new customers, so you can save money and get your shopping delivered to your door at the same time. You can do this with several supermarkets and watch the savings roll in.
If you have the time, go to your local supermarket during its final opening hour and take advantage of discounted food on offer. You can’t be guaranteed to pick up what you’re looking for on that day, but you may pick up some bargains that can be frozen and saved for another day.
Several supermarkets offer loyalty cards that are designed to reward you with discounts on fuel, days out and your weekly shop, in the form of vouchers or credit. Keep an eye out for these cards when you next pop in to your local supermarket – you may be surprised with the savings you could make later in the year.
Vouchers are a great way to help the bank balance, and plenty of retailers and restaurants hand out great discount codes/coupons throughout the year. If you go online and search for voucher code websites, you’ll be able to find a whole range of money-off deals.
It’s worth noting that you can take advantage of some top cashback websites to claim back credit in the future. When you go on a cashback site, you’ll be shown a host of well-known retailers and, when you click through to a website and purchase something, you’ll be given a percentage of your total shop back in the future. The cashback website wins and so do you. It may take time for the money to be credited in your account, but every penny counts!
Keep comparing your utility bills
If you feel you’re paying too much for your gas and electricity, you can shop around and sign-up to a cheaper supplier with little fuss.
If you’re coming to the end of a fixed tariff plan or are currently in a flexible tariff, you can compare energy suppliers online and find the best price. You will need to know what your rough annual consumption is, as well as the name of your current supplier and tariff (which you’ll find on your energy bills).
It takes around 21 days to switch energy supplier and most of the legwork is done by the new provider, which saves you a lot of hassle. From the date your contract starts with your new provider, you’ll be given a statutory 14-day cooling off period, to decide if you’re happy with their service and price. If you’re not, you can switch energy suppliers to get a better deal.
If you are in debt to your current supplier and wish to switch, you’ll need to be aware that the money owed will not go away. You will be able to switch if you have been in debt to your current supplier for 28 days or less, and they will just add this amount owed to your final bill. If you want to find out more about switching whilst in debt, take a look at the advice available from Citizen’s Advice.
That’s a wrap! Hopefully, you’ve been inspired to keep an eye out for a bargain and save money in 2020. None of us knows what will happen, as Brexit rumbles on, but we can all play our part in helping to keep our own finances in order.
Download our handy budgeting guide here.
If you find you are having problems with budgeting and managing any existing debts you have, you can get immediate debt help online or get in touch with one of our helpful advisers on 0800 280 2816. Our team are happy to help and offer free and confidential advice about money worries.