How to improve your savings in 2018
A New Year is often a focal point for people to look at what they’d like to change in their lives and many make resolutions for what they want to achieve. If fixing your finances is one of yours, then here’s my tips on how you can improve your savings in 2018. This article is also on www.thesavings.guru, with all the web links to the providers and companies mentioned in this article:
Pay off debts first
If you have credit cards, store cards, loans, overdrafts or other expensive forms of borrowing then focus on repaying these first. Banking is fundamentally quite simple – banks make money by lending the savings from savers to borrowers at a higher margin. Therefore, in the vast majority of cases, lending will cost more than savings. Paying debt off will be more financially rewarding.
The most common mistake I see with debt is not prioritising. Pay off the most expensive debt first. I often see people focusing on clearing the smallest debt first but paying off the most expensive will save you more in interest costs in the long term.
Make saving a habit
Like many things in life, saving is a habit. A great way to start is to open a regular savings account and set up a direct debit or standing order to pay in to this every pay day (or the day after for the cautious!). Allocating the money on pay day is more likely to be successful than committing to saving what you have left at the end of the week/month.
If you bank with First Direct, HSBC or M&S Bank then you can open a regular savings account with a 5% interest rate by committing to paying in anything from £25 - £300 per month. If not, the next best is available from Essex based Saffron Building Society who pay 3.50% on sums between £10 - £200 per month and accounts can be opened and run in their branch network across the region or via post. For those of you who prefer to manage your money online, Santander pay 3% on £1 - £200 per month.
https://www.thesavings.guru/saving-accounts/regular-savings - click on the provider’s logo to go direct to their website
Check your savings rate
If you have a savings account already then check your interest rate. 85% of savings balances in the UK are held with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, National Savings & Investments (NS&I), Nationwide, RBS and Santander. Yet these companies rarely appear in our best buy tables and I often see cases where so called savings accounts with some of these institutions pay 0.25% or less whereas the best easy access savings account pays 1.30%.
Switch your savings account
Since 2008, the UK government has made it much easier for new banks to be established and this has resulted in approximately 40 new savings providers entering the market in the past decade. Many of these offer the most competitive interest rates, simple internet banking and good customer service. Our website, www.thesavings.guru, features the best easy access (no notice required to access your money) rates on offer in the market and some of the most competitive now are:
- RCI Bank – 1.30%
- Shawbrook Bank – 1.20%
- Ford Money – 1.17%
RCI Bank is owned by French car manufacturer Renault. It has been a stalwart in our best buy tables and automatically passes on rate changes to customers e.g. if they increase their rate to 1.35% for new customers in February, existing customers will get that rate too.
Warley based Shawbrook Bank have been paying 1.20% since August 2017 on their instant savings account and have consistently featured in our best buys.
Ford Money, also based in Warley, has been another regular feature in our best buys since its launch in April 2017. Owned by car giant Ford, it, like RCI, passes on rate changes to existing customers.
https://www.thesavings.guru/saving-accounts/easy-access - click on the provider’s logo to go direct to their website
Make sure your money is protected
The government offers a protection scheme which guarantees savers deposits if your financial services provider fails. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protects deposits up to £85,000 per person, per bank, building society or credit union and up to £170,000 for joint accounts. 96% of UK savings and current accounts are FSCS protected – for free.
If you are unsure whether your savings are covered, there is a handy tool on their website www.fscs.org.uk which will tell you.
Maximise your day to day cash
Some people like to hold money in their current account so they have cash in the case of an emergency or unexpected expense. Many of us also hold money in our current account to cover day to day expenditure throughout the week or month until our next pay day. Even if you spend everything you earn during the week or month, unless you take everything out of your account the day comes in, there will be some cash that could be earning a return. Most current accounts pay nothing but there are some high interest rate ones which do and are worth considering switching too and earning a return on your day to day money:
Nationwide – pays 5% on £2,500 for the first year and 1% after.
TSB – pays 3% on £3,000 until 1st April 2019.
Tesco – pays 3% on up to £1,500
That’s all for this month. I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year and hope 2018 is a great one for you!