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Student Budgeting

12 New Year’s resolutions to save money

Has Christmas drained your bank balance? Or are you just keen to avoid last year's money troubles this time around? Detox your finances with this money makeover.

fireworks and a piggy bank

Credit (left): Chung-Yung Chiu - Flickr

Ah, Christmas. There’s nothing quite like it for rinsing your finances. Once you’ve factored in travel home, presents and New Year shenanigans, you'll be lucky if you can afford the train back to uni.

But, never fear. January is the perfect time to replenish your bank account and give last year's bad money habits a 'New Year, who dis?' attitude.

Here are the nine top ways to nail your New Year's resolutions to save money.

January sales are often a prime time to bag some bargains.

Best New Year's money resolutions

If your New Year's resolution is to save money, here are the top ways to do it:

  1. Take the New Year money saving challenge

    How I met your Mother challenge accepted

    Credit: CBS

    It's easy to want to save money, but actually doing it is a lot harder. Fortunately, savings challenges make the whole thing a lot easier – and, dare we say it, a little bit fun.

    Our favourite challenge to start in January is the 1p savings challenge which, as the name suggests, starts with you putting away a solitary penny. On the second day, you put away 2p, on the third day, 3p, and so on. By day 365, you'll have saved a total of £667.95 (or £671.61 in a leap year)!

    Although you can technically start the challenge at any time of the year, the fact that it takes a whole year means that it's best used as a New Year's resolution.

  2. Exchange your unwanted presents

    wrapped presents

    Now, we're not saying that you should be ungrateful – any gift is lovely to receive. However, there's no denying that sometimes you unwrap a present and think "what am I going to do with this?".

    Your first port of call should be thinking about how you can make use of what you've got. For example, if your gran's got you a jumper that you're not too keen on, why not keep it as something to wear while cleaning, to avoid getting bleach stains on your favourite clothes?

    If you can't find a use for your unwanted gift, now's the time to think about selling it. We've got a couple of great guides on selling your clothes online and making the most money from eBay, but heading to Facebook Marketplace or selling directly to a friend can work equally well.

    Alternatively, you might be able to get a refund from the shop it was bought from. Shops don’t have to take back presents if they’re not faulty, but if you’ve got a receipt (or have the nerve to ask for it from the gift-giver), they’ll probably cut you some slack. Check the returns policy first and read up on your consumer rights to know if you can return something.

    Or, why not give the gift to a charity shop? Admittedly, it won't really play into your money-saving New Year's resolutions, but it's an admirable thing to do and it could make someone else very happy indeed.

  3. Start a regular budget

    George Osborne presenting the budget

    Credit: PictureCapital - Flickr

    Budgeting really is the best way to stay on top of your finances – and what better time to start than in the new year?

    One good way to improve your budgeting is by getting into the habit of meal prepping. To help, we've put together a meal plan which could cut down the cost of your meals and snacks to around £2.70 per day!

    And, our guide to budgeting as a student has everything you need to know about starting your very own budget. It even includes a pre-made budgeting spreadsheet – all you need to do is put in your numbers, and we'll do all the calculations for you.

    If you want to avoid Excel at all costs, why not join an app-based bank? While these aren't technically prepaid cards, there's nothing to stop you using them this way – in other words, transferring a set amount of cash to the account every week/month and using that as your budgeted amount of spending money.

    The beauty of using an app-based bank account for this, as opposed to a standard bank account or prepaid card, is that these newer banks typically have much more advanced budgeting software built into their apps.

    With pretty colours and intuitive functionality, this is as close to fun (and certainly as easy) as budgeting gets!

  4. Put your Student Loan in a savings account

    Hands holding piggy bank

    Credit: Watchara Ritjan – Shutterstock

    With Student Finance payments landing around now, get on the case to make it last.

    If you’ve other income to get by on, stash your loan in a high-interest savings account or ISA to earn extra in interest. Or, try one of these automatic savings bots (many of which you can also make manual deposits into).

    Of course, the longer you can leave your money untouched, the more you can earn – so do it now to kickstart your holiday fund.

    You can capitalise on any spare cash you get – not just your Student Finance. If you turn a profit from unwanted presents, use that to boost your savings fund. And if you can’t stretch to putting your whole loan away, creating a budget can help you find some pennies to save.

  5. Get cheap insurance for your new gadgets

    woman on laptop

    Credit: astarot – Shutterstock

    If Santa left top-end gadgets under your tree, make sure you keep them safe. Check what your contents insurance covers and, crucially, when it will and won’t pay out.

    If your new toys aren’t covered for loss, theft or accidental damage (in and out of the house), you may need extra protection – but take phone shop insurance with a pinch of salt.

    You can get cheap mobile insurance with a third-party provider, such as protectyourbubble.com, or you might even have it included with your bank account. Ultimately, insurance sold by phone shops should be avoided, as it tends to be massively overpriced.

  6. Save money on bills in the January sales

    Pan on gas hob in kitchen

    Credit: DGLimages – Shutterstock

    It’s not just your standard retailers who cut prices at the start of the year – you can also pick up some incredible deals on your bills in the January sales too!

    Broadband is one of the obvious ones, but don't fret if your contract's not up for renewal yet. Providers are super keen to get as many customers on board as possible (especially when it means stealing them from competitors), so if you find a good deal, it's worth asking providers if they’ll buy out your existing contract.

    The same goes for mobile phone contracts. Although your contract's end date might still be a way off, there's no harm in ringing the new network and asking them to buy you out of your existing contract.

    And regardless of the bill in question, if the new provider isn't willing to buy you out of your existing contract, you should always speak to your current network to see if you can get a cheaper deal.

    All you need to do is ring them up, let them know about this amazing deal you've seen and how you're considering leaving, and they'll probably try to keep you on board.

    Worried that you won't be able to persuade a company to give you what you want? Our guide to haggling is here to help.

  7. Start planning your holidays

    Inbetweeners on holiday

    Credit: Bwark Productions

    The back to uni blues can bite hard, so why not give yourself something to look forward to? Whether it’s a holiday abroad or festival fun, start saving now.

    Remember that if you save consistently, you can get away with squirrelling away less cash in each deposit. This should mean you don't feel the hit as hard, and won’t miss the extra cash as much.

    And just because it's January, that doesn't mean it’s too soon to start looking for cheap travel deals, either. The best ones sell out first, so if you're sure you've found a bargain, don't let it slip.

  8. Book ahead for travel

    Peep show I've come on the train by mistake

    Credit: Objective Productions

    Conveniently (for your wallet) the Easter break is well-timed for the cheapest rail and coach fares if you book now.

    While you’re at it, work out whether season tickets, bus passes or a three-year railcard will save you big in the long-term. If so, whichever one you plan to go for, grab it now!

  9. Have a clearout and sell unused belongings

    Confessions of a shopaholic

    Credit: Touchstone Pictures

    The new year is the perfect time to have a look through your things and find anything you no longer wear or use, and sell them. This way, you'll be able to declutter your room and earn a nice income from it.

    To get as much cash for your old things as possible, check out our handy guides to selling your clothes and making money out of old CDs, DVDs, games and books.

    You'd be surprised how many things you're able to sell online, from wine corks to old toilet roll. If you think something could be useful to someone, somewhere, stick it on eBay.

  10. Use cashback sites when you buy

    Man in coffee shop with credit card and phone

    Credit: WAYHOME studio – Shutterstock

    If you don't already, it's definitely worth using cashback sites as much as you can this year.

    Getting into the habit of using sites like TopCashback and Quidco when shopping online is a great way to save money, and it's super easy to do. When shopping via these sites, you can get cash back on your purchases from some top brands, like ASOS, Amazon and H&M, to name a few...

    And, you can even get cash back at the supermarket – have a read of our guide for more info.

  11. Always check for deals and discount codes

    Man looking happy at laptop

    Credit: bbernard – Shutterstock

    As well as checking to see if you can get cash back on your shop, it's also worth searching for better deals elsewhere and discount codes before you make any purchases.

    If you think you could have done more to find top deals last year, now's the ideal time to make a change. Taking just a little bit longer with your shopping and looking for better prices whenever possible could really help you save money this year.

    The same applies to eating out – restaurants often have great discounts and offers which are advertised online, so be sure to have a look before going out for any meals.

    To keep up to date with the best bargains, you can bookmark our deals page, join our Facebook group and sign up for our weekly newsletter.

  12. Find out if you're eligible for extra financial support

    money in a purse

    Credit: Yevgen Kravchenko, kamui29, Bell Photography 423 – Shutterstock

    If the term ahead is looking particularly bleak, there’s extra financial support out there when you know where to look.

    Firstly, you’ll want to check in with your uni’s financial advisor to find out what cash is going locally.

    You could also have a look on turn2us.org to see if there are any benefits or charity grants you’re entitled to – you'd be surprised what unusual scholarships and funds you could be eligible for!

    Of course, failing that, there are the less exciting (but just as financially lucrative) regular grants, bursaries and scholarships which are worth looking into as well.

To start the new year on the right food, check out our top money-saving tips.

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