We have put together our top tips for improving your personal finances.
1. Start investing
You may have heard that inflation is on the rise across the globe as the world continues to grapple with the effects of the pandemic. As we explained in this article, inflation is the general increase in prices as a result of an imbalance between the supply and demand for goods and services in an economy. Right now, prices are going up across the world at a rate of roughly 5% per year, meaning that your cash will be worth 5% less in a year’s time, assuming a constant inflation rate of 5%.
So, what can savers do to combat rising inflation? Well, with interest rates still at historic lows, the interest offered by your bank will not make up for the current inflation that we are witnessing. Therefore, in order to beat inflation, savers will need to invest their money, whether in the stock market, bond market or another asset class. All investment comes with risk and when investing, you should be prepared to see your savings go both up and down over time.
2. Learn about investment
2021 was the year that retail investors made their mark on the stock market. Companies like Gamestop saw their share prices rise and fall at an extraordinary pace, driven largely by everyday investors trying to make a quick profit based on tips shared on social media. While some investors undoubtedly did very well out of this mania, many more will have suffered heavy losses.
Rather than try your luck with volatile, high-risk shares, why not learn about long-term investment? We put together this article to explain how the stock market works, so that you can understand this key component of any investment strategy. However, personal finance is about more than just saving—it’s also about your personal attitude to money and understanding the different financial products that are available to you. If you’re ready to double down on learning about finance, we suggest starting with some of the books listed in this article.
3. Scrutinise your bills
With costs going up across the economy, many of us might notice that we are now paying more for our goods and services. Therefore, now may be a good time to shop around for better deals on things like mobile, broadband and TV bills—some companies will be able to manage their costs better than others, so it’s worth checking that you are currently enjoying the best deal available. On top of this, do you have any monthly subscriptions that you don’t actually need? Many of us sign up for introductory deals for magazines or newspapers but soon end up paying full rates for a product we don’t actually use very much.
Food shopping is one place where you can make significant cost savings. Rather than sticking to your regular supermarket, it’s worth branching out to other stores to check whether you are paying more than you need to for your regular shop. Additionally, many people find that by occasionally treating themselves to more “luxurious” ingredients they spend less money on takeaways, thereby saving money overall.
4. Go green
We’re seeing more and more focus on climate change. Now is a good time to remind ourselves that as consumers we collectively wield a lot of power. Therefore, if you feel that certain products don’t align with your personal stance on the environment, then avoid purchasing them. If enough people do this, then reduced demand for such products will lead to suppliers not stocking them, which may have a positive effect on the environment or create an opportunity for more environmentally-friendly alternatives to hit the shelves.
On the other hand, why not deliberately buy things from companies that echo your environmental ethos? Rather than viewing this as spending, you could consider it an investment of sorts. Ultimately, greener brands are likely to be more expensive than traditional ones, since the cost of developing new, green products is to a degree passed on to the consumer. However, when rationalising your expenditure on such products, it’s worth remembering that by purchasing them, you are helping the company to scale up its offering and ultimately offer its products at more competitive prices.
Going green may not see you save money but it may enable you to put your money to work for the good of society.***
There will undoubtedly always be new risks and opportunities to be aware of. Improving our personal finances will help us to prepare for the risks and opportunities that every year inevitably brings.