These 5-minute fixes will help improve your finances
3 MIN READ
It’s the time of year when we resolve to eat more healthily, exercise and save more.
But, although many New Year resolutions are made, we all know that few are kept.
Experts advise breaking them down into smaller, more realistic, bite-sized chunks.
So here are 5 practical 5-minute fixes that will help you improve your finances right away.
1 Start by saving just €1, today
In December 2019, 56% of savers in the Bank of Ireland/Ipsos MRBI Savings and Investment Index* said they were not saving as much as they’d like to.
One of the reasons that over half of us don’t save is that we don’t think we can afford to.
Unfortunately, this often means we don’t get started at all.
But we can all afford to save something.
Why not start by saving €1?
Go and find a €1 coin, stick it in a jar or envelope and you have officially started saving in under 5 minutes.
€1 is not going to get you far, of course, but it may if you repeat your saving.
How often do you think you can save €1 in the next 12 months?
Once a month, once a week, once a day?
If money is really tight then you might only be able to save €1 once a week.
That’s €52 in a year.
If you are able to save €1 a day, then you’ll have €365 by the end of the year.
Better still, automate your saving so it doesn’t get forgotten.
The most important thing is to start saving right away.
Increase your regular savings as soon as you’re able.
Save €2 a day, for example, and you’ll have saved €730 in 12 months.
2 Create a budget in 5 minutes
Don’t have a household budget?
Overwhelmed by the thought of gathering statements and working everything out?
We’ve a post that covers how to stop putting it off and get your finances sorted, here.
How about setting aside 5 minutes, today, to get started?
Just 5 minutes.
Get hold of one recent bank statement for your main bank account and jot down how much money you have coming in each month after tax.
Next, write down how much your 5 biggest monthly expenses are.
They’re usually the obvious things like the mortgage or rent, heating, lighting, transport and phone bills.
Now that you’ve got your income and top 5 biggest expenses noted down somewhere safe, you’re on your way to building your budget.
Now, how many 5-minute sessions like this can you manage?
One a month. One a week? One a day?
Before you finish your first session, book in your next session by setting a reminder on your phone, jotting a note in your diary or on a calendar.
Keep booking those 5-minute sessions and writing down your outgoings until you have them all.
Take a look to see where you might make savings to better match your income to your expenses.
What can you change to improve things?
3 Cut 1 bill, today, in 5 minutes
Comparison websites have made it simpler and quicker to check whether you are getting the best deal for your gas, electricity, broadband, phone etc.
Not everybody takes the time to compare prices that could lead to real savings but you can.
Find copies of your biggest annual or monthly utility bill, pop online and spend 5 minutes to find out whether you could get a better deal.
Take each of your regular bills, one at a time, and compare them to the latest offers to see if you can save.
Work your way through your bills, take note of any savings you make and add them to your savings.
If you don’t have a rainy day fund then build it up with your savings.
4 Take 5 minutes to set a deadline to pay off your credit card
Many people start the new year with larger credit card balances than they’d like.
Get your latest big credit card bill and spend 5 minutes doing 3 simple calculations.
Divide your outstanding balance by 3, then divide it by 6 and then by 12.
This will give you a rough idea of what you would have to pay each month to clear your balance in 3 months, 6 months or 12 months**.
You’ll also pay interest on the balance while you are paying off your bill, of course, based on your card’s Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
But dividing by 3, 6, and 12 will give you a rough idea.
Decide how much time you’re going to allow yourself to pay it off.
Be realistic but try to clear the balance as quickly as you can comfortably manage.
Write down the amount you plan to pay each month on a calendar or anywhere visible to you as a reminder.
Make a note of the date of the final payment you’re aiming for.
Try to stick to your repayment plan each month by paying off a percentage of the balance each month and avoid adding to your credit card bill wherever possible.
A cheaper way of managing the cost of Christmas is to save for it in advance based on how much this year’s Christmas cost.
5 Start saving for retirement, today, in 5 minutes
We all know we should be saving more for retirement.
But it can seem both a long way off and challenging to save enough.
But starting small is better than not starting at all.
Our pension calculator shows you how much you’ll need to save depending on your age and how much you can save each month.
Spend 5 minutes with the calculator to find this out.
You can start a pension by contributing as little as €25 a month.
And the good news is that you get tax relief on pension contributions (within certain limits)
The earlier you start saving for a pension the better.
Even if you’ve left it a late something is better than nothing.
Try to increase your pension contributions each year as you get closer to retirement even if it’s just a small percentage.
Find out more
Take our 2-minute financial health check to find out what shape your finances are in.
*Clicking on this link will bring you to a third party website. Bank of Ireland is not responsible for the content of third party websites.
**Lending criteria, terms and conditions apply.