5 ways to be bet­ter off this year

Best - - BEST FOR CASH ADVICE -

1 MAKE SAV­ING A HABIT Be re­al­is­tic about how much you can af­ford to put aside each month, then set up a stand­ing or­der to trans­fer this into your sav­ings. Keep some cash at the ready for emer­gen­cies and pay the rest into a tax-free ISA. Al­ter­na­tively, use an app such as Plum (with­plum.com). It works out what you can af­ford to save and trans­fers this into a sav­ings pot au­to­mat­i­cally. Plum says its users save an av­er­age of £50 each month.

2 BOOK A CHECK-UP Make this the year you get ex­pert ad­vice to help whip your fi­nances into shape. Do a post­code search at un­bi­ased. co.uk or vouched­for.co.uk to find an in­de­pen­dent fi­nan­cial ad­viser in your area. They can fo­cus on a spe­cific area – mort­gage, pen­sion or sav­ings – or carry out a gen­eral fi­nan­cial health check. Many of­fer a free ini­tial con­sul­ta­tion and money off fur­ther ad­vice.

3 BUD­GET SMARTER Mak­ing a bud­get and stick­ing to it is eas­ier said than done! Cur­rent ac­counts with mo­bile banks, such as Monzo or Star­ling Bank, let you set bud­gets for things like gro­ceries, en­ter­tain­ment and trans­port, and then tell you how much you have spent and have left in the kitty. You can keep your ex­ist­ing cur­rent ac­count, too.

4 TOP UP YOUR STATE PEN­SION Use the gov­ern­ment pen­sion checker ( gov.uk/check­state-pen­sion) to find out how much your pen­sion will be worth when you re­tire. If you have gaps in your em­ploy­ment his­tory, or took ca­reer breaks when you didn’t pay Na­tional In­sur­ance, you may be able to make vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tions now. Call the Pen­sions Ad­vi­sory Ser­vice on 0800 011 3797.

5 SET RE­MINDERS AND SEARCH FOR A BET­TER DEAL Dig out your in­sur­ance doc­u­ments and check when your poli­cies come up for re­newal. Set a re­minder on your phone two weeks be­fore each date and block out half an hour in your diary to re­search the best deals. Do­ing your home­work could be so worth it!

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