Millions of us start the year with resolutions to get more fit, lose weight or save loads. Yet many virtuous New Year’s resolutions soon fall by the wayside. According to research from YouGov Link opens in a new window, only 35% of people who made resolutions managed to stick to all of their goals.
This year, faced with the cost of living crisis, rising bills, inflation and interest rates, it’s more important than ever before to tackle money matters.
Aim to stay on track by sorting out small tasks each month. That way, you’re less likely to get overwhelmed, and more likely to keep going. Over the year, each of the small changes will add up to make a big difference. Take a look at our 2023 month-by-month financial fitness plan to get you started:
January - Build a budget
Get off to a great start by working out a budget. Money may be particularly tight in January, as credit card bills for Christmas start hitting the doormat, on top of everything else. Setting a budget can help free up money to cover rising bills, pay down debt and then start saving. Carve out an hour or so to scan your bank statements and find out where your money goes.
Save time by taking advantage of clever tools such as the Virgin Money Mobile Banking app Link opens in a new window. The app automatically tags money spent from your account on things like fuel and food, so you can keep track of the totals. You can then set monthly budgets for different categories and check your progress.
February - Learn to love saving
With a budget in place, work out if you can afford to save a bit towards your goals and dreams. What would you love to do? Clear debt, head off for a romantic break, build a deposit for your own home? Turn those dreams into reality by setting up regular payments into a savings account Link opens in a new window, so you’re less tempted to spend anything left in your bank account Link opens in a new window. Plus, you could even earn a bit of interest on top. You can set up savings pots on the Virgin Money Mobile Banking app Link opens in a new window, named after your goals.
Even if you can only stash away a pound a day, you’d hit £28 by the end of February, a good chunk towards a meal out. Set aside £100 a month, and you could start December with £1,000 towards Christmas costs.
March – Brace yourself for bigger energy bills
Energy bills are due to shoot up yet again in April 2023, once suppliers can charge more under the energy price guarantee. The government has promised further cost of living payments Link opens in a new window to those on certain means-tested benefits - those who are disabled and pensioners
As temperatures start to pick up, see if you can save on your gas and electricity bills by using less energy. The spring and summer months can also be a great time to install insulation and get your central heating boiler serviced or replaced before the winter rush.
April - Spring clean your bills
Welcome spring by checking your direct debits. Scan all your regular payments, aiming to ditch or switch. Ditch any you no longer need – the magazine you don’t read or the gym you don’t use. Think hard: do you really need all of Netflix Link opens in a new window, Disney Plus Link opens in a new window and Amazon Prime Link opens in a new window? With remaining bills you can’t cancel, see if you can switch to a better deal.
Virgin Money Mobile Banking app Link opens in a new window users can do this from the comfort of their amazing app. Head to the ‘Discover’ section of your app and check out price comparison site, Youtility – where you could save over £250 a year by switching providers on your TV, Mobile and Broadband deals.
May – May the debt not be with you
This month, focus on debts, which can really eat away at your income. Make a list of what you owe where, jotting down the balance, minimum payments and interest rates. Work out which debt to tackle first, while keeping up minimum payments on everything else. Picking the debt with the highest interest rate will save the most money – but you may find it more motivating to start with a small debt that can be cleared more easily. For many families, their mortgage is their biggest monthly bill. If you are coming to the end of a deal, you may find new rates have gone up. Clearing debts elsewhere can help towards covering more expensive mortgage payments. If you’re worried about money then Virgin Money are here to help you through these tough times – check out their cost of living support hub Link opens in a new window to find out how.
June – Cash in your clutter
With the season about to change, June is the perfect time to clear out your cupboards. By selling stuff you no longer need or want, you can even make a profit to put towards rising bills, debts or family fun.
Everything from clothes to computer games, toys and furniture can be turned into cold, hard cash. Try the likes of Depop Link opens in a new window or Vinted Link opens in a new window to sell clothes and Gumtree Link opens in a new window or Facebook Marketplace Link opens in a new window for larger items. For quick sales, use apps such as Ziffit Link opens in a new window, Music Magpie Link opens in a new window and WeBuyBooks Link opens in a new window to scan barcodes on books, CDs and video games. With eBay Link opens in a new window, look out for weekends with low fees for listings.
July – Save on spending abroad
If you’re still able to head overseas on holiday, cut the cost of spending abroad with our red current account card. There’s absolutely zero fees for debit card payments and cash withdrawals outside of the UK with our M Plus Link opens in a new window and Club M Link opens in a new window bank accounts. Please note, while Virgin Money won’t charge you, some cash machines may apply a charge, you’ll be notified of this before you go ahead with the withdrawal.
It’s always good to take some foreign currency in cash too, but make sure you exchange money in advance, rather than paying over the odds at the airport.
August – Reward yourself
Treat yourself during the summer months by tapping into any cashback or loyalty points you have built up. Virgin Money current account and credit card customers can pick up cashback on everyday spending with Virgin Money Cashback Link opens in a new window. Or join the Virgin Red rewards club Link opens in a new window that revolves around you. It’s free to join and is available to everyone, whether you bank with Virgin Money or don’t. There are over 100 ways to earn and spend Virgin Points, from caffeine kicks and cinema flicks to VIP suites and front row seats.
Check shopping loyalty cards too, to see if you can swap points or vouchers towards summer fun such as meals out or tickets to attractions.
September – Back to school
Start the new school year by swotting up on money matters. Financial education doesn’t have to be boring though – try blogs such as Much More With Less Link opens in a new window for frugal tips, Be Clever With Your Cash Link opens in a new window for money saving offers, Debt Camel Link opens in a new window for debt help and Mrs MummyPenny Link opens in a new window for family finance.
Give the Meaningful Money Link opens in a new window and Money to the Masses Link opens in a new window podcasts a listen, and check out Mr Money Jar Link opens in a new window on Instagram.
October – Don’t be scared by the future
Hallowe’en may be looming, but you don’t have to be frightened about your financial future if you can keep up savings towards retirement. The government will even treat you to free money, by adding 25p in basic-rate tax relief to every £1 you pop into a pension. Higher-rate and additional-rate taxpayers can claim back even more. If you can pay into a work pension, grab the chance with both hands, as your employer will add money too.
Opting out of a work pension is like turning down a pay rise! If you are forced to pause your pension contributions, in order to make ends meet, aim to restart as soon as you can.
November – Beware of Black Friday
Watch out for the blizzard of ads and marketing emails towards the end of the year, and try not to be tempted to spend money you can’t afford. Black Friday is great if you can snap up Christmas presents on your list for less, but you can often find similar savings in sales at other times of year. Do your research to distinguish between real deals and dodgy discounts, by using price comparison sites such as Idealo Link opens in a new window, Price Spy Link opens in a new window and Camel Camel Camel Link opens in a new window. You can even set price alerts for products you really want, so you get an email if the price drops.
Black Friday is known for creating a boom in online fraud and scams, make sure you don't fall victim to them by checking out this article Link opens in a new window.
December – Shop savvy for Christmas
Plan ahead so you can have a special Christmas without breaking the bank. Tot up how much you want to spend on everything, from presents and food to travel and socialising, then break it down into a spending limit per present - you can check out this article Link opens in a new window if you need a hand.
Start shopping early, so you can take advantage of sales, search for discount codes and avoid express delivery charges. Then focus on festive memories that hardly cost a penny, such as making your own mince pies, heading out after dark to see Christmas lights and settling down for a family movie night. It's the time together that matters, and will be remembered far longer than a massive pile of presents under the tree.
The Virgin Money Mobile Banking app Link opens in a new window is here to help you budget, top up your savings and sort out your spending in 2023.
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