Over the Christmas period, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending, what with presents, food, alcohol and travel. As the seasonal spirit fades, it can get a bit daunting for some looking ahead to the year and managing finances.

To help out with this, and managing and saving money in general, we’ve compiled a list of useful tips to make things easier and less of a hassle. There’s plenty of helpful pointers in here if you’re someone who worries about your money, or is concerned that you’re dipping into overdraft. Even if you’re pretty good at keeping on top of money, you might find some useful info you can keep in mind. This doesn’t mean you have to live frugally or without luxuries, just with a smart mind when it comes to finances.

Keep an eye on overdraft

This one seems pretty obvious of course, but it’s nonetheless important: keeping track of your overdraft and how close you are to entering into it, is crucial to making sure you don’t go into unnecessary debt. Just dropping into arranged overdraft can be difficult to get out of, and going into unarranged overdraft will see you racking up interest charges and payments potentially being declined. It’ll also affect your credit score, making borrowing potentially difficult in the future. Make sure you can get yourself out of an overdraft as soon as possible, and consider getting your arranged overdraft limit changed (once you’ve gotten out of overdraft) if you’re finding yourself falling into it.

Keep track of subscriptions and other monthly payments

With the advent of streaming and the internet becoming universal in our lives, it’s become considerably easier to take out recurring subscriptions to numerous services. Netflix, Amazon, Spotify etc can be great deals and value for what you get, but you can lose track of them if you’re not careful. It’s easy to take out a subscription to something, especially if you’re trying it out, and then lose interest or not find what you want, but accidentally forget or put off cancelling it. Be wary of 1 week or month trials too, since they usually need payment details to proceed, and if you don’t like something it’s easy to give up and forget to stop the payment in time. If you find yourself taking out a subscription to Disney+ only to find you don’t want to watch anything else other than a specific series- you may as well cancel it. You can always come back later.

Money saving apps like Plum do a great job of tracking your monthly payments by linking to your bank account, and helping you figure out what’s unnecessary.

Consider cutting back on alcohol- to an extent

When you go out for a meal, the thing that can really cause the price to creep up is alcohol. It’s the same with buying it from a shop to have at home. There’s a fair amount of health benefits drinking less, especially if you have drink large amounts and often. Going sober for a month is popular these days, and can help with saving cash. This isn’t to say you should stop drinking at all, and in fact cutting back on what you consume at home, or using the other tips in this guide, might give you some extra money to spend when you go out, so you don’t have to feel guilty and can socialise without worrying about costs. Also to note- being a bit tipsy after a few famously loosens the wallet and we become less worried about spending, so keep that in mind.

Take advantage of set menus and rush tickets

Here’s two good ways of saving a bit of money while still being able to enjoy the finer things in life: when dining out at a restaurant that offers them, order a set menu with a stated price. While you won’t be able to get the flexibility of ordering à la carte, you will usually get things for a bit less- the double whammy of it being cheaper anyway, and without the psychological temptation of ordering too many dishes.

Once you’ve eaten (or maybe before), you can take advantage of rush tickets in theatres to allow you to see a performance at a discounted price. Rush tickets for those not in the know  are tickets purchased on the same day as a performance, usually with a pretty decent discount. They’re mostly released in the morning of a performance, and are allocated on a first come, first serve basis. They’re also often limited to only two per buyer. The seats quite often aren’t the best in the house, and for newer shows can still be hard to obtain. But that’s part of the cost of not booking in advance, and still, you’ll probably have a good time anyway.

Buy premium- but smartly

This seems counter intuitive at first, but it’s something that tends to work and hold true. If something’s pricier than the rest, there’s quite often a reason for it, and that reason is quality and durability, especially when it comes to technology. Buying a cheap washing machine might seem like you’re saving money- but if it starts breaking down because it’s cheaply made and not very durable, it’s going to cost more money to fix or replace it. A new high end Sony TV can look like a big money sink- but that brand name and others like it usually comes with good build quality and reliability, that won’t leave you with buyer’s remorse. However, sometimes high price items from big brands are indeed overpriced and come with increasingly diminishing returns as the price goes up. Unless you’re a professional sound mixer, a £500 pair of headphones probably won’t be a world of difference to a £100 pair. But a £100 pair IS usually a world of difference to a £10 pair. So research a product, and get opt for something that looks like it’ll be worth it if you can afford it,  but maybe don’t just get the most expensive model every time. What you pay is usually what you get.

The 50 30 20 Rule

A pretty famous money saving tip is the 50 30 20 rule. This is essentially a way of budgeting to help manage your spending in an easy to remember way. Using this method, your income is split into percentages: use 50% of your income on needs and the stuff that’s crucial- essential living expenses, bills, rent, food, and transport. Use 30% of your expenses on wants and more luxury expenses: eating out, subscriptions, shopping, gyms memberships, technology etc. Use 20% on savings, investments, pensions; essentially money to set aside for later. Of course you don’t need to follow an exact 50-30-20 breakdown, but it can be a good idea of what to aim for.

Put money into savings, investments and long term assets

It wouldn’t be much of a guide to money saving if we didn’t mention saving accounts. These accounts aren’t as attractive as they once were due to low interest rates- but there’s still some decent rates on them if you take the time to look. Putting some money aside every so often, or regularly if you can, can help build some cash up that you can use later.

Investing can be a pretty good idea, especially lower risk things like putting money in a bank or National Savings. Buying property is obviously a pretty huge investment- but there’s less pricey things you can invest into. There’s a wealth of information online about the best things to invest into- with varying degrees of risk. The explosion in cryptocurrency has created a lot of investment in them- but there’s a lot of jargon and a high level of risk involved, so exercise a plenty caution when it comes to this, since it is essentially gambling your money. You can also sell things you already own that might have gone up in or held its value, like old books, vinyl and other collector’s items that can be put on eBay for those that really want them. There was even a study recently that showed buying and keeping LEGO sets can be more lucrative than investing in gold!

Learn about personal finance in general

There’s plenty of books on personal finance out there, promising to save you money and get yourself out of debt etc, and while there’s a lot aimed at American audiences, there’s some out there written for this side of the pond. Books by Martin Lewis are particularly popular – his MoneySavingExpert site especially – though possibly taking cash saving to the extreme. The American ones can still be of use too, even if everything isn’t relevant to Britain. Even learning a bit about economics, which is about money and people more generally, can help you think about money and how everything fits together. It’s all about forward thinking, having a goal and seeing the bigger picture in life.

Try not to stress about savings and money too much

This sounds easier said than done, after all, keeping track of your savings and finances can certainly be stressful, and money is a hugely important thing. But, getting really, unbearably stressed out about it can lead to even more problems, like making rash decisions with your money or even ignoring problems with your savings, i.e. an overdraft, because you don’t want to face up to it. Some degree of concern and focus on saving is needed, but not to the extent it hinders you. If you’re worried about your money or your savings, and stressing about it, talk to a family member or a trusted friend. You don’t even have to follow their advice if you think it’s not worth it, but just having a discussion and expressing your worries about saving can help take the pressures off. Everyone thinks and worries about their money, even Jeff Bezos. You’ll be able to find help, even if just advice, from pretty much anyone.

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