Our writer has set herself some financial goals so we ask if she's keeping them
At the start of this year I set out plans to transform my own finances and save over a grand in the process.
After all, I spend my life writing articles that promise to help people save money, spend less and invest more.
So it seemed only fair that, having set myself some financial goals, I write honestly about whether I am managing to stick to them.
Here’s how I’ve got on so far. Be kind, it’s only March after all.
Feel free to head for the comments and give me your best tips and advice (it’s a new form of reverse journalism I want to try…), or tell me about your goals and how you’re getting on.
I will waste less food – £600+ goal
This was the goal I thought would be easiest to achieve. I constantly write about food waste and how to curb it.
I also knew that my household is almost certainly at least as bad as the average home for food waste, meaning we throw out £60-worth of edible food a month. With three children under the age of seven, I scrape a lot of good food into the bin.
So, my plan was smaller portions so there’s less waste and better planning so that all our leftovers are eaten up. If we managed to save the full £60 a month, that’d be £720 a year. I thought I could very likely save at least £50 a month if I tried hard.
How am I doing?
THIS IS REALLY HARD.
If I give this a great deal of time and attention then it is achievable; we have had entire weeks where barely any food has been binned and where nothing has been wasted, not the last beans in the tin and not the end of the bag of salad.
But then there have been other weeks where I have been distracted by work and had less time to cook and it’s all simply gone to pot.
Earlier this month I filled an entire carrier bag with the rotting contents of my vegetable tray and had to sneak it out to the bin before my supermarket order arrived.
So how am I doing? There’s definitely room for improvement but I really want to get this right, for ethical reasons as much as financial.
I’ll switch current accounts – £130 goal
The current account market is genuinely really competitive and yet most of us simply squat on the account we opened when we were teenagers.
Right now I could get a switching bonus of 5% or a couple of hundred pounds cash. I could move to a different bank that actually has a branch in walking distance (although how long that will last I don’t know).
There are bank accounts with rewards, accounts that pay top interest and ethical accounts with local credit unions. If you regularly dip into the red then some accounts designed for that will save you hundreds of pounds over a year thanks to their more competitive interest rates and charges.
It’s even possible to get a new account tailored for my freelancer sporadic income.
How am I doing?
Well, so far I haven’t done anything more than look at the options, I have chickened out of actually doing it.
So this is my absolute goal – before my next update I will switch current accounts and I will tell you exactly how it went.
If I don’t then I will do some sort of hideous penalty (like switching broadband too?).
Sell my junk – goal £200
With 3 children and a lifetime of stockpiling anything that ‘might be useful one day’, I have managed to fill our garage to the roof with stuff we don’t use and really don’t need.
One of my key goals was to make some space and cash at the same time, by selling off some of that junk.
I’ve mostly been using local selling pages on Facebook to advertise and sell items, because it’s easier to arrange collection rather than have the hassle of posting items to faraway places.
How am I doing?
Yes, this goal is going well. In the three months since Christmas I have sold off a considerable pile of unused baby equipment, old clothes and an unused kitchen appliance.
However, I have made a grand total of £45 and I suspect that I am not getting the best price for my unwanted possessions. I am definitely a long way off my £200 goal and I had hoped to exceed that considerably.
So I need to stop using this as a way of getting rid of stuff without the guilt of binning it. I need to up my game and find the right price and the right selling forums for the specific stuff I am offering.
Plan my investments
Yes! Finally a goal I am actually, definitely achieving. Whoop. Here’s how:
How am I doing?
Well, we sold our BitCoin just before the crash and pocketed a pretty considerable return on investment. However, I do think that was enormously down to luck rather than judgement – if the plunges had happened any sooner we could have lost thousands.
Focusing on my investments has made a big difference to my financial wellbeing already this year. I’ve put more into my children’s stocks and shares junior ISAs and I have made more savings myself.
I need to decide what to do with those savings – innovative finance ISA? Stocks and shares? Property? – but there’s plenty of time left this year to decide.
Spend less on plastic - goal £120
This has really become the issue of the year for some consumers. Single-use plastic is suddenly big consumer news and some manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon.
However, there still remains an enormous amount of single-use plastic tat in all of our daily lives and avoiding it can seem impossible.
How am I doing?
I have actually saved quite a bit of money already in the last three months. Previously, it was always easier to unthinkingly buy the plastic that led to an easy life.
That meant plastic bottles of juice or plastic straws instead of thinking ahead and taking a flask. It meant buying them ‘Zomblings’ at the supermarket – small plastic monster models that they forget almost as soon as they have opened them.
It meant plastic toys in fast-food meals as a treat, plastic toys attached to magazines they beg for every few weeks.
We almost all over-rely on plastic but when you’re a family with young children it’s easy to feel like you’re drowning in the stuff.
I’ve refused extra plastic most days for the last three months. I’d estimate I have already saved £45+ on plastic treats attached to magazines or as supermarket bribes.
Even better, my children have adjusted and now no longer expect the huge amounts of plastic that they used to beg for daily.
Good for the environment, good for my pocket: I am one smug mum.
So how are you doing? What are your financial goals just now? Let me know using the comments below.
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