Make a fresh financial start

A view of ten pound notes in a purse.
A view of ten pound notes in a purse.

So, with 2015 at an end, is there anything you wish you’d done differently with your finances this year?

New research suggests that many of us wish we’d managed our money a little better.

Nearly one in three (32%) of us wishes we’d saved more in 2015, according to a study for Standard Life.

Its survey of more than 2,000 people also found that 13% feel they spent too much on eating out and 18% didn’t budget enough.

Nearly one in five (18%) regretted not saving any money at all this year, while other financial regrets included buying too many clothes (cited by 12% of people) and ordering too many takeaways - which 11% admitted to.

One in 20 (5%) wished they hadn’t spent so much on taxis to ferry them around this year.

A further one in seven (14%) wished they had paid more into their pension.

If you’ve still got some lingering regrets about your financial habits this year, now’s the time to make a new year resolution to bring your finances back into shape. Some of them could also pay dividends for your long-term health too.

Here are some ways to gaining the right kind of pounds in 2016, suggested by Standard Life’s consumer finance expert Julie Hutchison:

Cut back on your caffeine

Your daily morning coffee may give you a much-needed boost, but cutting it out could provide an ever bigger boost to your finances. Ditching a daily latte could save more than £700 a year for some people.

Ditch the weekly takeaway

Look for alternatives in the supermarket. Many retailers also offer healthier, lower calorie options, meaning they’re a bonus to your waistline as well as your bank balance.

Stub out the cigarettes

One of the most harmful habits to your health will also make a damaging dent to your bank balance, costing thousands of pounds a year for some people.

Give impulse shopping a miss

Window shopping may be free, but when willpower gives way, it’s easy to get carried away, especially when it comes to online shopping.

Make healthy homemade lunches

During a busy working week, convenience is often king when it comes to grabbing lunch. However, spending a quick 10 minutes preparing a packed lunch could save you big money through the year. A lunch that will cost you £2 to prepare at home will often cost you £7 in some larger quick service lunch chains, especially once you’ve added a few standard extras, such as a drink or bag of crisps. Planning your meals will also mean you’re less likely to buy any impulse calorific treats.

Don’t be lured by expensive gym memberships if there’s a strong chance you’ll lose interest

Check out cancellation terms in advance and see if a cheap trial membership is available first. There are also a host of apps and websites available offering free fitness programmes and advice to get you motivated.

The daily grind of commuting is something few enjoy, so why not get your day off to a more active start by walking or cycling to work where possible? Many companies offer cycle-to-work schemes, saving you a fortune on petrol costs and train fares.

Give up the junk food

We’re all partial to the occasional treat, but cutting back on junk food binges could save you big money over the course of the year. Forgoing your daily chocolate fix can save you more than £200 a year.

Cut back on the booze

If you’re partial to a relaxing glass of wine or a beer after work, it’s worth bearing in mind the long-term effect on your bank balance as well as your health.

Three large glasses of wine or four pints of beer a week can add up to a total cost of around £636 a year, according to an alcohol calculator on Cancer Research UK’s website.