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Make money and save money every month this year. Look through these tips and you can make some notes in your diary to help you get ahead of the game and rake in the cash each month this year!
Make it your resolution to join a Credit Union this month. These are great institutions which not only offer decent savings rates and good service but they also help the local community. They are essentially non-profit banks operating solely for people in the local area. They are a great alternative to payday loans as they do small loans at reasonable rates which the high street banks generally won’t. They also help you budget if you need it. Find out here about what a Credit Union is and how you can join one.
Go onto the online auction sites to get cheap iPhones, Kindles, Xboxes and other cool gadgets. When people get new gizmos for Christmas they put their old ones up for sale, so you can get great rates if you don’t mind second hand gadgets.
If you would like to spend next Christmas in the sun, book now. In fact January is a good time to book for other events later in the year that might get full up closer to the time. Fancy a trip to Christmas markets in Lapland in November? Book now. Similarly there are events all over the winter that are cheaper if you book now. The Lyon Festival of Lights around 8th December is always rammed with people so get flights and hotels for that now. If you fancy New England for Thanksgiving the flights to the US around the end of November are much cheaper now, as are flights to New York or the Canaries for their excellent New Year celebrations.
Even if you’re staying in the UK for Christmas, start saving now for the festive season. Set up a Christmas savings account with the Post Office or your local Credit Union and put a regular amount in every month to give you a head-start at the end of the year.
There are lots of deals on winter holidays now if you’re able to leave in February or March. Try Travelzoo for good last-minute package deals. Also Thomas Cook do amazing deals on long holidays such as 42 nights in Tunisia from £698.84 per person. If you don’t need to be in the UK for a few weeks it can actually be cheaper to stay abroad for a while with one of these deals!
Get into Lent. Even if you’re not religious, giving up one or more of your vices, at least for a month, is a good discipline and can save you money. Pick something that gives you several benefits at once like giving up booze for a month. This will make you healthier, wealthier and more productive all at once. If you manage it for a whole month it will spur you on to cutting down on booze generally, which is always a good thing.
Get as much as you can for free. You’re probably still smarting from the Christmas and January bills but you don’t have to do without fun this month. There are always free events going on that you can take part in. Look at what your local council is offering this month by doing a little research on their website. Also have a look at websites like Free-events, Timeout (putting in ‘free’ in the search bar), and typing in your area and ‘free events’ into your search engine. Also, check out our regularly-updated article on the latest freebies and free ways to live here.
Put more money into your pension before the end of the tax year. The amount you can put into a pension goes down next month from up to £50,000 a year to £40,000, so if you have a lot of extra cash to invest, make the most of the higher limit. Now that the government has introduced automatic enrolment you should be able to have a company pension if you earn over a certain amount. Here are the facts on automatic enrolment.
Check that you have paid enough National Insurance contributions (NICs) to qualify for the full State Pension when you retire. Go to Gov.uk use the State Pension calculator. If you haven’t paid enough you should be able to ‘buy’ up to five years-worth. We need 30 years-worth of contributions to qualify. If you’re a mother or caring for someone full-time you should be able to get pension credits for the years that you’re not working.
Set up a standing order on 6th April to transfer money into a new ISA every month. The 2014-15 limit increases this month to £11,880 – and half of this amount, £5,940, can be saved into a cash ISA. However, as you know, we think that stocks and shares ISAs are much more worthwhile as they return more money in the long-term and you can put the full ISA amount into those. There are some free guides here to choosing a good equities ISA. You can also put more into a Junior ISA or Child Trust Fund as those are now up to £3,840. If you put money in these now, at the beginning of the tax year you will have the full twelve months for your money to grow.
Easter Monday is on April 21st this year and the extended Easter bank holiday weekend is traditionally the time when DIY stores like B&Q, Homebase and Wickes often discount DIY products to attract those doing up the house. Check online before the weekend to see what bargains you can pick up.
Book your flights for the school holidays now. Travel search site Momondo has found that the best deals can be found by booking 59 days of when you want to travel. So now is the best time to book for the July and August break. The site also found that Tuesdays are the cheapest day to fly, with early mornings being the cheapest time of the day.
Make money on the side now that the weather is better. We have HUNDREDS of ways that you can make extra cash in your spare time so check out our money-making ideas here. Look at your hobbies and interests for money-making opportunities. If you have a garden and a greenhouse you could make money propagating seedlings and selling them at car boot sales. Work as a football referee at weekends for local games. If you have time on your hands join a house-sitting agency to make money and save money on your heating bills.
Get your heating and plumbing sorted for the winter while the plumbers are chasing work and the boiler companies have lots of offers on. Summer is the cheapest time to get your boiler fixed or replaced, put in insulation and generally get the house ready for winter. The energy companies often have big discounts on boiler installation at this time so get them to quote you their best price then compare that with plumbers in your area to find the cheapest deal.
Check your savings and cash ISA rates. Some of those special cash ISA deals you were offered in February and March may be coming to an end now so you might need to move your money. You can move money from one ISA to another without withdrawing it. Just look for a better offer and contact that bank or building society to get them to move your money for you.
If you’re going away book airport parking before you get to the airport to save loads. Go online to Essentialtravel or Holidayextras and you can compare multiple car parks services and their rates at once. For example, if you’re departing from Stansted you could save as much as £157.50 for a fortnight’s parking just by pre-booking.
If you think you can’t afford to go away, look into house-swapping. It’s a much cheaper option, particularly for families, as you only have to pay for your travel and food while you’re away. Check out Homeexchange for possible swaps.
Top up your ISA. You can now top up your ISA to £20,000 and you can split that amount between cash ISAs and stocks and shares ISAs however you like. Equally you can top up your child’s junior ISA to £4,128.
Take a prepaid currency card with you when you go abroad. It’s a safer and often cheaper way to pay for things when you are away. With the currency card from FairFX.com for example, the rates of exchange are generally much better than you get at high street currency shops. Also, if the card is stolen the thieves won’t have access to your bank account and you can stop it as soon as you know it’s gone.
Switch your gas and electricity. The utilities companies tend to put prices up at the beginning of the Autumn so fix yours now to avoid the rise. Find the ‘Kilowatthours’ you have used in the last year (it will be on your bills) and put that figure into one or two comparison sites to see which company will offer you a better price.
Get extra work for Christmas now. Agencies book people to be Santas or Elves in this month – it’s good money too – about £250 a time in many places. Also now is the time to contact the Post Office for casual work over Christmas (they get booked up very fast so the earlier you get in the better). Get in touch with department stores in your area too for seasonal work over Christmas and the New Year sales. Shops like Next, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams are good to try.
Now is also a good time to get a deal on a second hand car. There are more used cars on sale in September as people trade in their vehicles when new registration plates are issued. You will be able to haggle harder as there is more competition for sellers. Here are our tips on getting a good second hand deal.
Book your train and coach tickets for the holidays this month. Right now you can get cheap offers direct from rail companies like Eurostar or your local train operator. For coach travel book with Megabus as advance tickets can cost as little as £1. We’ve got lots of ideas on how to get cheaper (rarely actually ‘cheap’ nowadays) train tickets here.
Get some free chocolate. This month National Chocolate Week happens around the country and there are free tastings (and some paid-for events) in cities all over the UK. Find out where you can go for free chocs, tastings and workshops at Chocolateweek.co.uk.
Apply now for a 0% on balance transfers credit card so that you can get it in time for January when you may have a nasty Christmas credit card bill to pay. Go to our credit card comparison to check out the deals.
Make a will. This is Will Aid month where solicitors and will-writers around the country donate their fee to charity any time they write a will for someone. Around one in three Brits dies ‘intestate’ (without a will) which can cause a lot of stress, acrimony and unnecessary tax payments for those left behind. So if you don’t have a will do it now and give the money to charity. Go to Willaid.org for a list of professionals in your area who can do a professional will for you.
Don’t buy the kids a dog for Christmas, join Borrowmydoggy instead. The site matches up dog-owners with people in their area who want to have a dog every now and then. You could find that being a member is enough or it could even put you off owning a dog which will save you and the dog a lot of problems!
December is a good time to switch your broadband deal as the providers like Sky, BT, Virgin etc vie with each other to grab customers and tend to offer attractive package deals including TV, phone and wifi. Find out the best new deals here.
Book very cheap tickets for West End shows for January and half of February when Getintolondontheatre.co.uk launches its bargain offers (usually from mid-December). Get tickets for as little as a tenner for shows like The Lion King, Wicked, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera.