How much can you achieve on a Sunday afternoon? You might manage to make a start on a box set, or squeeze in a trip to the park. But what will you really have to show for it at the end?
There is an alternative to whiling away your afternoon. It might not be as much fun as a solid six hours with your favourite TV drama, but it could transform your finances for life. If you devote one Sunday afternoon every year to money matters, you can get on top of your finances, and boost your wealth dramatically. We reveal how.
You need to revisit your accounts at least once a year, to check they are still working for you.
Current account: Picking the right account starts with your needs. Do you occasionally go overdrawn and need a cheap overdraft? Is there going to be money in the account for most of the money, so you need more interest? Do you need a branch? Are you concerned about customer service? There’s an account to suit everyone, and you can check out the options here.
Your savings: If you’ve got money in the bank, check you’re earning the most interest on it that you can. Consider whether you can tie up the money for longer to get a better rate, or meet the requirements of a regular savings account. In some cases, you may even be better off with a current account offering a decent rate of interest. Search for a savings account here.
Your credit card(s): If you have debts on a credit card or any loans, look at how much interest you are paying, and consider whether there’s anything cheaper on the market. Remember to check your credit record before going for really cheap loans or 0% credit card deals. At this stage, you also need to revisit your plans for repaying your debts. If you’re not on track to do so, you need to free up cash for regular and substantial repayments, which brings us to step 2…
You gain nothing by paying too much on your everyday bills, and could save a fortune by devoting an hour of your Sunday afternoon to hunting down better deals.
Utilities: Dig out your bill, so you can see what you are using, and search the market for a better deal. You can cut your costs even further by investigating energy saving measures. It’s also worth looking into whether it makes sense to switch to a water meter, and then use water-saving techniques to save cash.
Media: We spend a fortune on TV and broadband, so it’s worth looking at what we’re paying for, and whether we can cut back in order to save money. Could you, for example, switch from a package of channels to a cheaper streaming service? If you use everything you’re paying for, you can still save by shopping around for broadband.
It’s never a good idea to save money by cutting back on your insurance cover – especially when it’s so easy to save money by shopping around. Insurers will automatically bump up your premiums each year, so if you haven’t switched for a while, you could save hundreds of pounds a year without really trying.
Insurance: Take an hour to search for better deals on your car insurance, home insurance and travel insurance. If you don’t have any pre-existing medical conditions, it’s also worth checking whether you can get a better deal on your life insurance, private medical insurance and even your pet insurance.
It’s always important to check more than just the price, to be sure you have the cover you need, but the payback for this hour makes a few extra checks well worth the trouble.
You’ll need to be in the right position to consider switching your mortgage. If your circumstances have changed for the worse, you may not be offered anything better. If you’re in the middle of a fixed deal, meanwhile, there may be serious penalties if you move. Before you start, therefore, check any fees you will pay to switch – so you can factor them into your calculations.
Anyone who is in a position to switch their mortgage could save serious money. There’s cash to be saved from finding a lower interest rate, from considering an offset mortgage, and for shortening the loan period. You could also consider a fixed rate mortgage if you need a bit more certainty in life. See our article on remortgaging for more tips. Also look at our mortgage comparison service for a cheaper quote.
Four hours into your Sunday afternoon, you’ll have slashed your outgoings. Now you can start the fun stuff – and start making more money.
We have a host of money-making ideas on the website. Most of them require an ongoing effort through the year, but there are three things you can do immediately to boost your income by hundreds of pounds.
- Sign up to a cashback site like TopCashback and Quidco. You will get a refund on almost everything you spend, and in some cases can make a decent lump sum. Over the year, you could get as much as £200 cashback – just by buying the things you’ve always bought. You can find out more here.
- Sell your five most valuable pieces of junk. We all have endless rubbish cluttering up the house, so make a start on clearing the clutter and making cash from it. Start with any old mobile phone. You can use our tool to see what it’s worth. Next, pick a handful of items to sell on eBay. Old gadgets and technology, kitchen implements, fashion and kids’ toys could all make more than you think. Check out more ideas for making money from clutter here. You can’t do it all in an afternoon, but once you’ve started making money, you might find the enthusiasm to sell more.
- Decide how much time you have in your schedule to devote to making money on the side. Then consider your options. There’s a treasure trove of ideas in the making money section of our website, from making money with your mobile phone to making money from chores. Even if you can only spare a few minutes a day when you’re on the toilet, there’s money to be made.
6: save it
The hard work has now been done. Six hours in, and you will have saved hundreds of pounds a year – if not thousands. The only thing left to do is to decide what to do with all this cash you’ve freed up.
If you have expensive debts, you can now set up regular repayments – or boost your current ones. Everything you save should be ploughed straight into repaying debts. It’s by far the most cost-effective use of your savings.
If you are on top of your borrowing, meanwhile, this money is yours to save for the future. If you don’t have a savings safety net, put this cash into an easy access account, to cover you for the unexpected. Check out our guide to setting up a savings safety net.
If you already have cash savings, you need to consider longer-term investments, such as share-based funds or ISAs, which are useful if you can put aside your cash for 5-10 years or longer.
You also need to allocate some of your regular savings to a pension. If you have a workplace pension scheme – especially if your employer matches contributions – this is usually a great place to start. Otherwise a low-cost Stakeholder Pension will help you get started, without charging you the earth.