Predictably, I'm not making resolutions - yes, again! I am however planning for the year ahead, it feels a bit like the start of term when you were at school, the New year. While I'm not a great fan of all the hoo ha that goes with New Year's eve, I do in some ways quite like the feeling of starting afresh. I'll try and update on some of the other things we're thinking about and planning in the next little while, but for now, it IS a Friday, after all...
As always at this time of year we're turning our attentions to things financial - although more with a mindset of a "reset" than anything else. Just looking over what we're doing, Where we're spending, and reminding ourselves to be conscious about the money going out. I've got myself a little bit of a money challenge going on once again - which actually feels quite good, it's nice to have that focus again. In the tail end of 2016 I made two reasoned big purchases - a new camera and an upgrade to my phone. Once cashback etc was taken into account the camera was purchased for the best price I could possibly have bought it for - and I was pleased to be able to buy from the UK rather than going the Hong Kong route, this time. The phone was dealt with in two phases - with just under 3 months to go on my EE contract I gave them a call as I'd spotted a SIM only deal that I hoped they might consider matching - to my delight they did - saving me around £12 per month on my bill, and increasing my data allowance to a level where I may not run out on several months of the year, too! Having done that, I then purchased the new phone paying upfront from a third party seller - fully unlocked and ready to go when it arrived. I did a lot of research on this - friends left, right and centre were urging me to go for the iPhone 6s - but with my previous one being a 5s, I was wary of the increase in size, so was also looking at the iPhone SE. I read a lot of articles comparing the two, and made a pros and cons list of the advantages of one over the other - there were few features that the 6S boasted over the SE that I really felt I wanted to be honest, and the massive win from the perspective of the SE was the extra battery life over it's bigger sibling. I also analysed how I used my phone and was surprised to realise quite how much of the time I use it one-handed - I estimated that at least 75% of my use was in that way. With that in mind the final deciding test was to handle my Mum's 6s - and that proved to be the decision-maker as each and every time I tried to use her phone one handed, I promptly flipped out of my hand and had I not been ready for it would have landed on the floor. With the decision made to opt for the SE I was even more pleasantly surprised to discover a £100+ difference in price - I eventually paid £409 for mine.
Although I had the money sitting in savings ready to pay for both items, I paid on the Credit Card both for the financial protection it gives, and also thanks to the cashback it pays. It was then that a thought occurred to me...a quick look on the Money Saving Expert site revealed a fee-free balance transfer card which I was likely to qualify to get. (Sainsbury's Bank - 0% for 22 months in case you were wondering.) Applied, and got - result! This means I have a space of time where the money can stay in my account earning at least a little interest - well anything is better than nothing, right? My plan is as follows: I've got back into doing surveys again - and anything I earn via that route will get paid against the 0% card. I'm also setting the Direct Debit for the initial minimum payment, rounded up to the next £. whereas normally if you just set it for the straight minimum payment, it will fall over time, mine will stay the same, meaning that as the balance drops each payment will effectively have more of an impact on the balance remaining. Assuming the TopCashBack payments on the two purchases some through OK, those will also go back against the card. My aim is to pay off both items within the interest free period, (obviously!) but using as little money from my savings as possible. So far I've chipped £35 off the balance - £11 survey money plus the £24 I would usually have paid on my phone bill (it came in at zero this month due to the change onto the new SIM only deal).
I'll keep you informed of how things go - it feels slightly odd to be thinking in terms of being "in debt" again, but currently the very fact that I don't like that much is serving as a good incentive to get it gone! Oh - and the new camera - well see for yourself, I'm happy...!