Starling New Year’s money resolutions header image

The new year brings on a flurry of resolutions, many of which are related to money. Your goal may be to save for your first flat, to take more time off and get some winter sun, or to build up a fund for starting a family. Whatever your goal, here are a few steps you could take to help you fulfill your money resolutions.

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Create a budget

Having a budget can bring purpose and clarity to how you spend and save your money and ultimately make you feel better about your finances. There are lots of advantages of budgeting and it’s simple to get started.

Here’s how to create a budget. Step one: check the exact amount of money you earn after tax. This can be more difficult if you’re self-employed or freelance but look at previous months, work out an average and then leave space for unexpected delayed payments or a gig falling through. You can use an online calculator to help.

Next, calculate your essential outgoings: rent or mortgage, council tax, gas and electricity bills, building insurance, WiFi, TV licence, phone bill, the cost of your daily commute and the average amount you spend on groceries.

If you’re a Starling customer, you can check scheduled payments or work out average outgoings using your Starling app. In the payments section of the app - all direct debits and standing orders are listed together. You’ll find a monthly breakdown of outgoings for groceries and transport in the Spending Insights section of the app.

Your monthly income minus your essential outgoings is what you have left to save and budget. That could be for a weekend away or a taxi after a night out, going to restaurants or the cinema, buying birthday presents or subscribing to Spotify, perhaps investing more in your pension. All the things you might want to spend your money on.

As a budget planning tool, have a look at the Spending Insights categories in the Starling app: Bills & Services, Groceries, Eating Out, Transport, Holidays, Shopping, Lifestyle, Entertainment and Gifts. Set a realistic amount for each category, taking into account how your spend might change if you have lots of birthdays all in one month or if you spend more over the summer or around Christmas.

You should end up with a list of how much you can afford to spend for each category, which you can check up on each week by scrolling through your Spending Insights. If you spend money on something and you want to change the category, for example from Shopping to Gifts, you can do so in the app.

As part of your budget, you might also want to calculate an ideal daily amount to spend. Your actual spend will go up and down - sometimes more, sometimes less. But you can quickly check in on how you’re doing by comparing your daily figure to the total on your Starling homescreen. We do the maths for you by adding up your daily outgoings. Daily spend is also listed for previous days in the transaction feed - swipe up for iPhone or press the teal button for Android.

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Set up a savings Goal

Ideally, regular savings should be part of your budget. One savings trick is to transfer money to your savings as soon as you’re paid rather than spending all month and saving what’s left at the end. For example, if your aim is to save £100 a month, you could transfer this into a separate savings account on payday. Or you could set up a savings Goal in the Starling app.

When you set up a savings Goal in the app, you can specify the amount you want to reach and add a photograph - it’s all about motivating you to get there. You could start saving for a new camera lens and add an image of the lens you want to buy. Or you could add pictures of Santorini or Sri Lanka - wherever is on your bucket list for travel or holidays.

Another Goal you could create is as an emergency fund. Financial advisors recommend building up a cushion of three to six months worth of outgoings. That way, if you lose your job or if there are unexpected costs for your flat, you’ll have a safety net.

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Round up your spending

You may want to create multiple saving Goals for specific house repairs, trips away or a new laptop. To put those savings on autopilot, you could choose one of those Goals and turn on Round Ups - the feature that automatically adds spare change to your Goal. These tools, Goals and Round Ups, provide easy ways to save money.

For example, if you spend £2.50 on a sandwich, 50p could go into your savings Goal for a weekend to Copenhagen. You can also up your Round Ups to x2, x5 or x10 to speed up saving as you spend. For example, if you select x5 and you buy an apple for 35p, £3.25 (65p x 5) would move into your savings.

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Keep track of refunds

If you buy a new jumper and change your mind, you might think that the job is complete when you take it back and sign the receipt. But sometimes refunds aren’t processed correctly or don’t come through.

Next time you arrange a refund, make a note on your phone. And only tick it off your list when you receive a Starling notification letting you know that you’ve received money from the merchant.

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Make money from your hobby

If your budget is looking tight, you have two options: spend less or earn more. Not every hobby has to be a side hustle but if you want to earn cash from your creativity or turn your blog into a business, why not channel the fresh leaf feeling of January and take action? There’s plenty of inspiration from existing Starling business customers - from calligraphy prints to freelance photography.

Depending on what stage you’re at, you could even register your venture on Companies House, which costs £12, and set up a Starling business account. Or you could set up as a sole trader. There are no monthly fees for a Starling business account and you’ll have lots of features to make money management smoother.

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