New Year’s resolutions: we all break them – and strangely, it hardly ever seems to matter. After all, you’re only cheating yourself, right? That said, if there’s one type of resolution that can make a real-world difference, it’s the financial kind. The festive season can be wearing on the wallet, but here are a few simple commitments that can set you on the path to a much happier, more prosperous 2020.

Set realistic saving goals and stick to them.

It doesn’t have to be a lot. Just saving £50 a month can be a real boost to your finances over the years. Knowing what you can reasonably save on a regular basis is pretty much half the battle. The other half is keeping your spending in check. If you want to make things really simple, it’s possible to set up an automatic monthly transfer into your savings account. Alternatively, you can keep the process automated by using a dedicated app like Money Box.

Ease up on the plastic.

Credit cards are some of the most expensive debts you can run up, but they make spending so simple that we just can’t seem to give them up. Even debit cards can make the trap of splashing out too easy to fall into. Sticking to cold, hard cash can keep your spending under tighter control. If you do find yourself leaning on a credit card for costs you can’t cover any other way, don’t spread your spending out. Keep it all on the card that offers the best deal, and switch it over whenever the grass is greener elsewhere. Yes, it’s more hassle – but that’s a big part of the point. We stack up these expensive balances precisely because it’s so ridiculously easy to do. Dealing in cash limits your options and makes you confront what you’re spending.

Think twice about unexpected bonuses.

If you’ve got a debt that’s gathering interest, it’s a safe bet it’s rising faster than the interest on your savings. Pay it down when you get a windfall. When that’s done and you’ve still got unexpected extra cash, save a chunk of it and enjoy the rest. You’ll be better off for it and won’t be depriving yourself. This goes for tax refunds, too. It’s the same thing you ought to do with energy providers: switch when the deals are better elsewhere.

Clamp down on impulse buys.

No one’s saying you can’t buy that sudden “must-have”. Just take a moment to think about whether this is the right time to buy or the best deal for go for. Shop around a bit first and make sure you aren’t getting ripped off. Read reviews, compare prices and shop wisely. Resist the FOMO and don’t believe the hype. Sometimes a fad is just a fad.

Don’t drop out: keep your pension growing.

If you’re working PAYE, you should be automatically enrolled into a workplace pension scheme. A lot of people are tempted to opt out of this – particularly since the amount you’re putting into it jumped to 4% in 2019. However, ditching the scheme means losing not just the tax relief you’ve been getting but your employer’s contributions to your pot, too. That’s bad news on both counts, and it could end up hurting you when you need to tap into that cash later in life.

Get even with HMRC.

Whatever other resolutions you make for 2020, always check if you’re due a tax refund. Look – we’re not your dad. We won’t be constantly looking over your shoulder, but we will always be watching your back. Average refunds in the building game come to £1,796 a year right now. Talk to us, and get what’s yours. There’s no reason to cheat yourself, and our expertise means you’re always better off with RIFT.

Find out if you're a tax rebate with our free tax rebate calculator.  You'll get an instant estimate of how much you could possibly be owed back from HMRC.