It always seems easier to set long-term financial goals towards the beginning of the year. Perhaps there’s a sense of obligation to participate in the annual tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions. Or maybe the excesses of the recent holiday season have a sobering impact that causes us to exercise sudden self-restraint. Although objectives of the nascent year have a tendency to prompt grumbles, there’s no doubting that we could all benefit from gentle self-assessment. Though that doesn’t mean we should strive for anything too life-changing, especially as those kind of plans are the first to go out the window.
Even a little can go a long way over a sustained period, and that can be reassuring in expensive times with “very modest” wage growth forecasted for the year ahead. Here are some tips for saving your money for the things that really count in 2015.
Go online for frugal pursuits
Among the more exciting targets of New Year’s resolutions are the ones that aim to better ourselves, not just our bank accounts. Unfortunately, nurturing our actual aspirations can often be at the expense of our financial ones.
The good news is that the unstoppable rise of the internet has contributed to a proliferation of online courses that tend to work out cheaper than the traditional equivalent. Even if the course isn’t free, or heavily discounted, there are still savings to be made on travel and accommodation.
With everyone suddenly seeming to be talking about coding, there can be fewer better places to start than Codecademy. Using this online platform, users can enjoy a completely free, comprehensive series of coding classes in six different programming languages. On an alternate destination of the technological spectrum, we can also master music production programs like Ableton and Logic from the comfort of our own homes. The celebrated academy of electronic music SubBass offer cheaper online courses for students eager to learn about sound engineering and unlock the mysteries of compression and reverb.
Not all online courses demand that our eyes be locked on our monitors. Some are ideal for helping us escape the omnipresence of our stressful digital age. With online courses from meditation specialists The Art of Meditation, students of any meditation ability can familiarise themselves with breathing and stillness techniques without having to embark on a retreat.
Explore alternative options
With success stories like those of Aldi and Lidl over the big four (Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco), we’re clearly getting comfy outside our comfort zones. But the truth is, Aldi and Lidl have actually been around for much longer than most people realise. The takeaway lesson here? There’s always a cheaper option, but you might have to look for it rather than find it in the headlines.
Another runaway success of 2014, despite facing particularly negative press, was the ride-sharing app Uber and it’s still enjoying increasing levels of popularity now. Once again, the newcomer, this time with the taxi industry in its sights, made the news because of how affordable it was.
For those who would rather drive than get a taxi, there are even convenient ways to save money when it comes to the inevitable issue of parking. Online platforms for cheap and convenient parking, such as the online parking marketplace Your Parking Space, have attracted the attention of Money Saving Expert for their cost-effectiveness. With websites like the aforementioned Your Parking Space, users can sign up for free to negotiate flexible rental agreements of unused parking spaces advertised by those who aren’t using them. This results in cheaper parking and better parking options.
Conquer the bills and the chills
Heating can be a burning issue during cold snaps like the one we’re currently experiencing. We all want to stay warm, but we also know that the majority of energy consumption in any household comes from the boiler.
Fortunately, there are ways of enhancing our existing heating systems to make them more efficient and save us money.
Firstly, setting a sensible heating schedule is essential for curbing the waste of precious heat. But not even the most finely tuned thermostat can stop the heating coming on when you make spontaneous plans to stay out late. To cut down on wasted energy and potentially save hundreds of pounds each year, home automation experts Mayflower AV recommend smart thermometers that can be controlled remotely. With one of these devices installed, you can turn the heating off when you’re going to be out, or turn it up if you’re on the way home.
The thermostat might be the major component of any home heating setup, but that setup is useless and wasteful without fully functional radiators. To ensure that your radiators are never impaired by playing hosts to trapped pockets of air, automatic radiator bleeders can guarantee that they contain nothing but hot water.
Even if your radiators work perfectly well, they could still be generating a significant amount of lost heat. So if your radiators are hot but the room isn’t, you could invest in a radiator booster which will regulate and distribute its heat.