The new year is the perfect time to reflect and plan for the future.
We often think of New Year’s resolutions only in terms of health, career or relationships - but why not consider financial New Year’s resolutions, too?
Coming down from the high of the festive season, you might be feeling a little out of sorts financially. That’s why now is the best time to sit down and think about the small (or big) changes you can make to get, or stay, on track with your money.
Whether you’re just starting your financial wellbeing journey or looking to develop your money management skills, here are a few financial resolutions for 2024 that are actually achievable, sustainable and made up of small steps to get you closer to your financial goals!
1. Commit to a monthly saving goal
Setting a specific savings goal each month will give you a clear financial target to work towards. Whether it's a £10 set aside for unexpected expenses or a big chunk for future plans, being consistent about saving a set amount helps you to stay on top of your finances.
You’ll want to set an amount that’s realistic for you and your budget, so you can actually stick with it. No amount is too small, it’s all about building a habit.
Also, automating this process will help make it more manageable by taking out the mental work required for saving. Then, the money is put aside without second thought. 👏
You can do this by setting up a direct debit transaction. Or simply set a calendar reminder on the same day each month.
2. Build an emergency fund 💰
Building an emergency fund is another great financial resolution for this new year.
Whether you’ve spilt tea on your laptop or banged up your car on the way to campus - life is unpredictable. Having a financial safety net can help when something unexpected comes up.
Set aside a portion of your savings towards building an emergency fund that covers three to six months' worth of living expenses. It might take several months to build up that financial cushion but it can help provide peace of mind during unexpected situations, allowing you to focus on your studies without the added stress of financial uncertainty.
It’s best to keep this saving pot in an easy-to-access saver that you can withdraw from at any time. This is different from an ISA or investment that may take time to withdraw from or have penalties for withdrawing money. Speak to your bank provider if you’re unsure which savings account is best for you.
3. Commit to one ‘no-spend' day a week
Being frugal is very 2024! With more and more influencers looking to simplify their lives and minimise spending there is no better time to challenge yourself to dedicate one day each week as a ‘no-spend’ day. This not only encourages mindfulness around where your money goes but also helps you identify areas where you might be overspending.
Sometimes, doing a ‘no spend’ day can reveal a lot about your bank account - such as what subscriptions might be coming out automatically (without you spending anything), or it can reveal how much eating lunch on campus really does add up.
For some ‘no spend’ tips, try meal prepping at the start of the week so you avoid having to buy food out. You can also use your ‘no spend’ day as a chance to try something new that doesn’t involve spending money. Here are some ideas if you’re stuck!
4. Embrace the ‘Buy Nothing’ trend
Have you seen the viral ‘Buy Nothing’ trend on TikTok? Well, it’s actually a lot more than a trend. ‘Buy Nothing’ is a movement designed to encourage community-building through the exchange of unused items - everything from medical supplies to clothing. You can search for ‘Buy Nothing’ groups on Facebook in your area.
You can also embrace ‘Buy Nothing’ as an individual. Try buying nothing for one week, two weeks, one month, and see how your finances will thank you - while also choosing an eco-friendly alternative that’s good for the planet. 🌎
5. Set a budget and stick to it
We all tend to cringe at that word…budgeting. 😬
But sticking to a budget is just another word for staying on top of your finances. You can pick a budget that’s realistic for you and your finances, and create one that feels freeing, not limiting.
You can create your budget simply by using our app to map out your money coming in vs money coming out.
If you need help with the basics of budgeting, check out this learning pathway.
Be as honest as possible to get a realistic picture of your finances. Removing the unknown between you and your money is a great first step to financial wellbeing, so why not adopt it as your first financial resolution of the year?
6. Cut out unnecessary expenses
Part of adopting a budget can also help you identify a specific expense that you feel drains your finances without adding significant value to your life.
Whether it's daily takeout, subscription services or impulse purchases, try to cut back on or eliminate this expense.
And it’s okay to feel like you might ‘need’ something that is a want - just be honest with yourself about what you feel comfortable cutting and what brings that little bit of joy. For example, maybe cut your Starbucks oat latte but keep your Netflix account so you can watch your favourite TV series.
Tip: Try keeping an item you want to buy in your basket for at least 24 hours. Then, ask yourself if you really need it. This can help reduce impulse buying and sometimes get you an additional discount code too!
It’s not about eliminating everything that you enjoy - it’s about finding a balance to help you maintain your budget.
Then, you can redirect some of those savings to an emergency or travel fund. You’d be surprised how cutting a few pounds here and there can add up.
7. Cut back on the booze 🍺
While drinking can be a big part of university and college life, the costs of a night out can quickly add up. There’s a reason over 175,000 people took part in Dry January last year in the UK.
And while you don’t need to give up drinking entirely as a resolution, cutting back can help save a big chunk of your money.
Try opting for non-alcoholic alternatives during social events or limit the frequency of nights out - maybe only drink on weekends or at cheap Tuesdays at the Student Union. You can also try sipping slower so your drink lasts longer and you buy less!
Your bank account will thank you, and you might find yourself waking up with clearer mornings as well as fuller pockets. 🙏
8. Dedicate time to financial learning 📚
The best way to stick to goals and resolutions is to make SMART goals - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
If financial learning is on your to-do list this year, but you’re not sure where to start, try allocating a set amount of time each week to enhance your financial literacy. It can be five minutes or 30 - but stick to a set time and day that you can realistically commit to.
Especially as a student, it can feel daunting to tack more learning onto everything else in the pipeline. But like with any of these goals, it’s always best to pick ones that fit your schedule, so you can actually achieve what you want this year - whether that’s to save more, cut back on unnecessary spending or simply learn more about how to invest.
Like with any new skill, starting is usually the hardest part so we’ve got financial learning of various lengths on Blackbullion to help you build healthy financial habits for life and focus on your goals.