Getting Financially Savvy In Time For 2020

With Brexit edging ever closer, the credit crunch still in full flow, and money becoming increasingly tight, 2020 may well be the year when many people have to, once again, tighten their belts when it comes to family finance. But, if we are being truthful, are we as canny with our budgets as we could be. I know my answer to this question is no, but 2020 could be the year when you change all this.

Woman with coins in jar

Woman with coins in jar

Here are some of the things you could be looking at.

Bank Accounts 

Look carefully at your bank accounts. I have had the same bank account with the same bank for many years, but I’m not sure it is the right one for me now. Shopping around for a new account with better interest rates on savings could help to increase savings, and if they also offer things like travel insurance and other incentives, this may also save the pennies. In addition, my son Joe is now almost 11 and I think it is time he had a bank account of his own to teach him all about the reasons for saving. Many banks offer specific savings accounts for families and these are well worth a look.

Borrowing

Look carefully when you need to borrow. Bank loans and borrowing can leave you in a position where you can only borrow a large amount, which you then end up paying interest on. Borrowing in general can also be difficult if you have a low credit score. Polar Credit could well be worth a look if either of the previous statements apply to you. They offer a credit line which allows applicants to borrow money as and when they need it. Customers apply for a credit limit through an online application and if the application is approved, sums of money can be transferred to your bank account. Interest is paid only on the amount of money drawn out of the credit line, not on the total credit limit agreed, and repayments can be tailored based on an individual’s current financial circumstances with only a minimum repayment being a required each month. This means you can borrow small amounts (from £25), get the money quicker than you would from your bank, and with far lower interest rates than you would find from payday loan lenders.

Household Bills

Look at the household bills to see where savings can be made. Utility bills need to be looked at carefully, swapping your provider can lead to quite decent savings, and you can also lock yourself into deals which fix your rates for up to 12 months. In addition, if you use Quidco, you can gain cashback when you swap.

Your Shopping

Write a shopping list. This may sound like a no-brainer, but I never do this – ever. I walk around the supermarket and throw anything (and everything) in. Planning meals properly, checking what you actually need and writing it all down in a list should avoid waste and impulse buys.

Your Home Insurance

Keep up to date with when insurances need renewing and then shop around. I kept the same home contents insurance for years, I just kept renewing at a rate of £33 per month. I then had a random letter from ‘More than’ and saw they did home contents insurance. A quick phone call led to a new policy saving more than £250. When it comes to renewing, barter, and if that fails, get more quotes.

Shopping Online

When you shop online, shop savvy. Look for voucher codes, free delivery offers, companies that offer free returns. Sign up to email alerts that will tell you when the sales are on, or if there is a flash sale coming up. Nobody says you should never shop or treat yourself, but there are definitely more savvy ways to do it.

 

Fashion Is Your Business

It is often considered to be fun, frothy and frivolous. The obsession of the young, those with disposable income, wanting the newest trends as quickly as possible. Yes, fashion often gets a bad press from those who consider clothes to be a functional necessity rather than an obsessive passion. Those who indulge, and indeed love fashion can be labelled shallow, but, in reality, there is so much more to fashion than simply getting a ‘look’.

The Fashion Industry is one of the crowning glories of the British Economy, with London Fashion Week now firmly entrenched amongst the most important in the fashion calendar. It has been estimated that more than 105,000 visitors attended the shows and off schedule events at last years Autumn Fashion week in London, and this, in turn generated an estimated 269million in revenue, making it second only behind New York in terms of profit. This is no mean feat in challenging times. Tie this in with the respect and veneration that some of our greatest fashion exports are held, the likes of Vivienne Westwood, Victoria Beckham, Giles Deacon and Marchesa are all British born talent, with Osman, Alice Temperley and Molly Goddard all generating excitement (and A list fans) as their products are displayed on red carpets all around the world. Clearly the fashion industry is more than fun and frivolous.

But as the fashion industry grows, the nature of the selling of High Street Fashion changes. We are seeing more pop up shops and collectives, as shop fittings for temporary stores become more affordable and portable, meaning they can be moved from place to place as small businesses move around.

Fashion is also becoming much more universal in terms of entrepreneurship and business. As the High Street continues to struggle, more and more individuals and independents are starting small businesses and online stores that offer something different from the general High Street fare. Ebay and Etsy stores are becoming increasingly popular, selling a range of fashion products from independent designs to trendy imports that tap into the market. It is becoming far easier to make online stores look attractive and professional, using acrylic display units for jewellery and accessories in order to market your products is now an effective way to add sales.

Plus size stores that avoid the usual cliches of tents and butterflies are also a new and attractive business idea, with the added help that companies like TNT, who consider fashion to be important, giving lots of sound advice on issues like packing your items for delivery, transporting items safely, and even hosting your own fashion show, all important ways of getting your own small business out there onto the fashion radar.

SJP Front row

Whether you look at fashion from a designer point of view, or from the point of view of an etsy store holder taking their first tentative steps into the industry, it is clear that far from being frivolous, fashion truly is big business. All this, and fabulously stylish too.

Saving for Joe’s future

I sometimes find it hard to remember the days ‘BJ’, that is, before Joe. But one thing I do remember clearly is just how much disposable income we had, money to spend on frivolities like clothes and make-up, eating out, excessive amounts of shopping that we didn’t need, and holidays. These days it seems that every penny is accounted for and earmarked and most of it seems to be earmarked for Joe.

Earmarked for Joe? Yes, it has to be said, it costs a fortune being a mom to a football mad boy. Each month we spend around £100 on his football training and subs. He has a season ticket at West Bromwich Albion which is another £50 a year. His feet won’t stop growing, so it seems new boots are needed every couple of months, and they have to be Puma or Nike, and then there are the new football strips, wanted (new design of course) and needed (why won’t his legs stop growing – is my boy part giraffe?). Add into this the Fifa points that I seem to be buying every week, the school trips and residentials, and the fact I need to remortgage in order to do the food shop and it is clear, being a mom of a boy is very expensive, and it will only get more expensive, which is why I’m already thinking towards the future.

The dreaded Fifa

New Goals

Football with his team

We’re not wealthy by any means, so Joe can’t exactly have a trust fund, but there are ways to make sensible savings towards the future, even if it is only a small sum each month. One way where you can not only save money, but can also allow it to grow is by opening a Junior Isa Account. There are two kinds of Junior Isa’s, a Junior cash Isa and a Junior Stocks and Shares Isa. The main difference between a junior Isa and an adult Isa is that the junior Isa does belong to your child, money cannot be removed until your child reaches the age of 18, and this is what makes them perfect as a way of saving towards their first car or University costs.

The regular Junior Isa account earns interest like a savings account, and you can deposit up to £4,260 per year into the ISA, which could create a nice little nest egg by the time your child is 18. If you opt for the Junior Stocks and shares Isa, then your money is invested in financial markets with the aim of earning returns for investors that are greater than those you would get in a Junior Cash ISA. There is obviously some level of risk involved, but your returns could be much greater too, so it is definitely something to weigh up.

With university fees being so expensive, most establishments now charging the maximum amount of £9,000+, it would be good to have some money set aside to help with this, or with a deposit for a first home or a car if your child decides against university.

Do you have any savings put by for your child’s future? What are you saving for?