Get your finances into shape this year

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If you’ve had a few financial regrets this year, then you’re not alone - according to new research that suggests many people wish they’d managed their money better.

Nearly one in three (32 per cent) would have liked to have saved more in 2015, according to the study for Standard Life insurance and investments.

The firm’s consumer finance expert Julie Hutchison has suggested a number of ways to bring your finances back into shape:

* Cut back on your caffeine. Your daily drink from the coffee shop might give you a caffeine boost, but cutting it out could provide an ever bigger boost 
to your finances. This simple step could save you more than £700.

* 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. Someone who smokes 20 a day will spend around £2,000 each year.

* Give impulse shopping a miss. Window shopping may be free, but when willpower gives way, it’s easy to get carried away, especially online.

* Make healthy homemade lunches. Spending ten minutes preparing a packed lunch 
could save you big money through the year. A lunch that costs £2 to prepare at home will often cost you £7 in some chains – that’s around £140 every month.

* Don’t be lured by expensive gym memberships if there’s a strong chance you’ll lose interest. Check out the facility’s cancellation terms in advance and see if there is a cheap trial membership available first. There are also a host of online apps and websites available offering free fitness programmes, or pick up an exercise DVD for a just a few pounds.

* 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? Many companies offer cycle-to-work schemes, saving you money on petrol or train fares.

* Give up the junk food. We’re all partial to the occasional treat, but cutting back on junk food 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.

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