We could all do with a brighter financial outlook but, in order to get that, we could probably all do more to make our money go further. With a little effort and some smart decision making, there are ways we can all grow our personal finances in 2017. Here are five ways to do just that:
The first stage of any financial plan should be to clear the decks. Borrowing is still relatively cheap at the moment and many of us have taken the opportunities that this has offered – for example, you might have snapped up short-term financial products such as loans and credit cards. In fact, the average household is now sitting on more than £13,000 of personal debt.
However, this low-cost borrowing won’t last forever and settling up any lingering debts that you have will ensure that you’re in the best place to take on finance for anything that you need to purchase as 2017 progresses. Not only will this grow your own capacity to borrow, but it should reduce the amount you’re spending on interest and free up more of your personal finance to go on the things you want.
Savings accounts have taken a bit of a battering as a result of the very same low-interest rates that have made borrowing so cheap. Yet that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to squirrel away your cash to get it to grow. Look harder and you’ll see things such as ‘innovative finance ISAs’ that take your cash to fund peer-to-peer business loans and deliver close to nine percent interest in return.
On top of your savings accounts, it’s time to look at types of investments that could grow your cash pot. A volley of measures – from rising Stamp Duty and the tax on profits – has made a buy-to-let property less desirable in 2017 than it would have been a few years ago. Instead, turn to the markets. The advent of technology makes this sort of investment far less daunting or indeed difficult. With spread betting you can invest tax-free without even needing to physically own stocks or shares for yourself, making this a quick and effective way to invest.
Top up your pension
You have to keep an eye on the long term when it comes to your personal finances. Don’t judge your success based on your bank balance, think beyond that to consider what your money will do for you in the medium to long term too. Nowhere is that more relevant than with your pension. If you do not have a full National Insurance record then, as The Telegraph notes, it pays to buy ‘extra years’ of state pension. This means that paying £733 can get you an extra £230 a year for life. The Telegraph also notes that every nine weeks you delay taking your state pension will deliver you an extra one per cent a week.
Looking after your money is one way to grow your personal finances, the other is to try to grow the amount you bring in in the first place. Wages in the UK have been largely stagnant since the financial crisis but they are, slowly but surely, growing again. The average pay rise in 2017 is set to be around 3%. Make this the year you stump up the confidence to ask for an increase in your pay packet. If your employer isn’t willing to give you that 3%, is it time to look around for something better.