January is the time to take stock of where you are in life and make plans for the year ahead. Alongside the usual aims of getting fit, finding love or career progression, more people are including financial goals among their new year’s resolutions.
Nutmeg’s research shows a marked shift in attitudes towards money since the Covid-19 pandemic emerged with people being more focused on saving, investing and getting their pensions sorted than before.*
Getting your money affairs in order can be overwhelming. But everyone has to start somewhere, so if you’re unsure about where to begin, here are some easy financial resolutions to help get you on track for a prosperous year.
Create specific goals
Whatever you hope to achieve this year – with your health, career or money – it’s far easier to make progress by setting small, specific and realistically achievable goals that you can work towards.
Instead of saying ‘I want to save more’, resolve to hit an overall figure by a certain date. Break down that amount into smaller chunks by setting savings goals for each month, starting with smaller targets and incrementally making them bigger.
Going all-out and saying you’re not going to buy anything you don’t need ever again may work for some, but for most people it’s like putting a banana skin on the pavement ahead.
Make incremental changes to your spending habits and you can gradually adjust to your new lifestyle.
Think twice about cash
Inflation rose rapidly last year and the latest data show it exceeded 5% by the end of the year, which means the purchasing power of cash savings is being eroded rapidly too. In order to keep up with inflation your savings need to be earning interest or investment returns. But the average interest rate on a cash ISA is 0.17% a month, according to the Bank of England1, which makes investing even more important for preserving and growing your wealth. This is why 7.1 million new investment accounts were opened during 2020-21 in the UK2. However, please remember that investing comes with the potential for financial loss
If you have longer-term financial goals in mind, this could be the year you dip a toe into investing by setting up a direct debit for a small amount each month to be deposited into a stocks and shares ISA. You could try a provider which offers diversified portfolios of investments which are managed for you, but be sure to carefully select one that matches your appetite for risk.
Reflect on your spending
Everyone is limited to some degree in how much they can spend on non-essentials (aside from the very wealthy). Spending less and saving more often means cutting back on the nice-to-haves, but you don’t want to cut out everything that makes life worth living.
Being good with money is about finding the sweet spot where you spend just enough on essentials (such as the roof over your head or food) and non-essentials (such as meet-ups with friends) that you can be comfortable today while also putting something aside so the ‘future you’ will be comfortable.
When you’re spending on yourself, or others, make sure you’re spending smarter. Does your bank or card provider give you cashback on purchases or is there a cashback website that will reward you for spending?
Take better care of your pensions
Most people have multiple pension pots from previous employers and often these accounts are left to languish. If you don’t check in with your pensions regularly, you’ll have no idea if the investments are performing well, if you’re paying a reasonable amount in management fees or when you will be able to retire. Take better care of your pensions – you’ll need them to take care of you one day.
You can usually transfer old pensions into a single account, which is called ‘pension consolidation’ in industry jargon. Doing this can make it easier to have oversight of your retirement funds and may reduce the fees you pay.
When choosing which of your pension accounts to keep, don’t just pick the one with the highest balance. Check and then double check that the pension account you transfer the others into is the best one for you – with competitive charges and good investment performance.
Not all pensions can be transferred and there’s the risk that you could inadvertently be giving up perks that are only available on older schemes. If you have any doubts about how it works, speak to a financial adviser.
As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. A stocks and shares ISA may not be right for everyone and tax rules may change in the future. If you are unsure if an ISA is the right choice for you, please seek financial advice. A pension may not be right for everyone and tax rules may change in the future. Please note that during any transfer, your investments will be out of the market. If you are unsure if a pension is right for you, please seek financial advice.
- Bank of England, data to 31st October 2021, the latest figures as at 3rd January 2022.
- Financial Conduct Authority, data correct as of July 2021.