For many of us, emerging from the successive lockdowns and restrictions of the past year might seem a bit like coming out of hibernation. It’s a new season, everything is different yet still somehow the same.
Even so, some useful habits were probably second nature before the pandemic and these need to be re-learned once again. One of them is looking after your money and maximising the benefits you are due from your hard-earned cash.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the lessons you might want to refresh.
Where is it all?
Strange as it might seem it’s quite possible that you don’t even know where all of your funds happen to be stashed. It’s so easy these days to open a current or savings account – and, thanks to the Open Banking initiative the choices are even greater.
A first step to maximising your money, therefore, is to discover all the accounts you have opened, consider whether they are still appropriate and that they continue to offer desired financial services or a competitive return on your savings.
If any of those accounts also came with a credit or bank card, give special consideration to whether it continues to be useful or necessary. The cards you hold may have a direct bearing on your credit status, so, cancel and destroy any you are not using.
The cards you use, of course, you will want to keep – but consider whether any or all of them also offer rewards for their use as loyalty cards, suggested an article published by the Consumer Association’s Which? magazine in August 2020.
Protect your assets
To maximise your money, sometimes you need to spend it.
It will never be better spent, for instance, by ensuring that you continue to maintain your home in a tip-top state of repair. Your home is likely to have been by far your biggest investment to date, so, it makes good common sense to do all that you can to maintain its value.
Even if it involves stretching your finances a little now, it still represents money well spent as far as the future is concerned.
It will also typically be a condition of any home insurance you have that your property is continually maintained.
Be a collaborative tenant
If you are a tenant, you don’t need to worry about property maintenance, of course.
But that’s not to say you can’t learn to maximise the tenant-landlord relationship to your financial gain. You could offer to do simple maintenance jobs on the property you rent, for example – making home improvements at your own expense or lending your time and labour in return for a discount on the rent.
During the successive lockdowns during the coronavirus crisis, you have probably become even more adept at shopping well, knowing where to buy the best deals, and how to budget for expenditure on groceries.
Keep up those valuable skills and attitudes – they will serve you well in stretching just that little bit further what you need to spend on daily essentials. Remember that supermarkets’ own brands are typically cheaper, some cuts of meat are cheaper than others, and practice again some of the lessons you might have learned during lockdown in making your own dishes.
Whatever you’ve cooked, save any leftovers in the fridge or freezer rather than just throwing them in the bin.
Another lesson many of us might have learned over the last year or so is that the car is probably not as essential as we once thought it was. So, if you’ve taken to pedal-power on your own two wheels and are happy to give up your car, remember to claim a refund of any remaining motor insurance – though you’ll probably have to forfeit a cancellation fee.
If you’re going to persist with the car, of course, you’ll need to keep getting it MOT’d. Beware that some garages and test centres insist on charging the maximum fee allowed under government rules (£54.85) but that others frequently offer a handsome discount – be on the lookout for them.
Monitoring and switching utilities
Whether you are a homeowner or tenant, it’s likely to be a thoroughly sobering thought to realise just how much of your hard-earned cash gets spent on utilities each month – and that includes not just heat, light, and power, but monthly costs for your telephone, TV package, and broadband connection.
Keep all of these under careful and constant review – making a point to switch providers whenever a more attractive or competitive deal comes along.
Good financial habits
It might take a while getting used to it once again, but you’re likely to find it very soon worth your while to have considered how to maximise your money.
Further reading: Making your money go further.