The motivation for creating this article came from a simple (and somewhat urgent) need to save some cold, hard cash. Suddenly finding oneself without a job and trying to survive on a limited amount of social security made me realise just how much money I was actually wasting.
When the question, “Do I pay the electricity bill or do I spend the money on food?” came up, I knew something had to be done.
By examining how everyday people (like me, like you) live their lives, I have come up with a number of simple life changes that if adopted, can greatly reduce the amount of money you spend each month. If you really go for gold and implement lots of the changes, you may even be able to turn those savings into treats and that may turn out to be the motivation you need to change your spending habits forever.
A substantial amount of effort and debate has gone into the compiling of this money saving article. By adopting just a few of the suggestions listed, you will start saving much-needed cash but you have to put the suggestions into practice in order to do so.
Remember: The only thing stopping you saving money at the moment is you. The sooner you make a start, the sooner you are going to start cutting those costs and saving money for the nicer things in life.
Getting Around – From A to B
Whether it’s work or pleasure, getting from A to B is the one of the more regular things we have to do, or rather, in today’s road traffic, try to do! The cost of fuel, the price of tickets and the number of road users seems to increase every day. But what if we could reduce that burden?
A few simple alternatives, a re-think or just plain acknowledgement that we really should change our behaviour will do just that.
What you should be doing already….
1. Buying a weekly, monthly or even yearly travel card
You can typically save anything up to 40% on your travel costs by paying for your travel up front. If the time you travel isn’t that important, why not buy an off-peak travel card? You will save even more!
2. Get on your bike / Buy a cheap bike
Free and excellent for one’s figure, not to mention reducing the pollution in the air and reducing how much petrol you need to keep buying to justify those short journeys. Sure it might feel difficult the first time you ride a bike but before long the pounds will fall off your waist and into your pocket!
3. Walking for a change
It’s surprising how little we walk because we think our destination is too far away. We only assume that because we are so used to taking the car for every trip. Before we know it, we take the car even for the shortest journey. If the prospect of walking doesn’t tempt you, think about this – people who walk for 20 minutes a day, on average, lose up to 300 calories doing so!
4. Make a pledge to only use the car when necessary and only for long journeys
Think about the journeys you make in the car and how much these smaller journeys are costing you in fuel. What extra mileage are these journeys adding to the general wear and tear of your car when you could be walking or cycling instead?
5. Car share with someone every alternate week
If you work, share the drive to work with a colleague or if no-one lives in your area, join a car-pool club. By car pooling on alternate days or weeks, you will almost half your fuel costs, reduce your mileage (important for car insurance!) and get to relax on the way to and from work.
6. Buy train tickets in advance and online
Many train service providers provide great discounts if you are prepared to think in advance about your journey and book the tickets online without having to speak to a call centre operator. Some train operators even offer cheap upgrades to first class if you book online. Checkout the website of the train provider you use and you may be surprised.
7. Shop around for car insurance the moment your renewal notice arrives
If you have to use your car, always shop around for cheaper insurance the moment you receive your renewal notice. Often people leave it to the last minute and end up staying with the same car insurance company year in year out. While there’s nothing wrong with doing this if you are happy with the service, spending twenty minutes on a price comparison website may mean you end up finding a cheaper policy. If you don’t find any cheaper insurance, call your current insurer and tell them you are considering another insurer who is cheaper. You’ll be surprised at how many insurers suddenly come up with a discount!
*A friend of mine recently reduced her car insurance renewal premium by £400 because she used a price comparison website to get a better quote. Many insurance companies do not reward loyal customers; don’t be afraid to move on.
8. Review your use of the car
When was the last time you checked how many miles you were clocking up in a year? Stating accurate mileage when insuring your car use can help reduce your premiums with some insurers.
9. Understand your car’s air conditioning
Did you know that when driving your car with air conditioning on it uses an incredible amount of fuel? Estimates put extra fuel use as high as 10% in some older cars! Turn it off unless you really need it or open the windows instead. If you must have it on, use the recycle air option; this will recirculate already cooled air meaning the system thermostat isn’t switching on so often.
10. Plan and pack a lunch
If you know you have to travel during a lunchtime period, always ensure you have made food for your journey. Service stations, train stations and airports are extremely overpriced and you will save yourself a small fortune by thinking ahead and making some sandwiches and bringing your own drinks.
It’s said that there is really no place like home but it’s hardly ever said there’s no place like a home that costs you a little less each month either!
Considering how much time we actually spend in our homes sleeping, eating, entertaining ourselves – not to mention keeping ourselves warm or cool, how much effort do we really put into thinking about how we could be making considerable savings?
Given that home is our Oasis from the often difficult and tiring world outside, changing our little safe haven might not seem like an attractive option. However, a few simple changes (for the better) will make a huge difference and will mean that the money you save can be spent on something else to improve your time at home.
11. Mind the gaps!
In early autumn, buy draught excluders and fit them to all entrance and internal doors. If you are unconvinced this will help, light a joss stick and hold it near the bottom of a door and see how the smoke is affected by the draught blowing in. The same can be done with windows.
12. It’s curtains for you!
Invest in thicker curtains for winter time and close them when it gets dark or the temperature drops. Change the curtains in summer for lighter fabric such as muslin to provide privacy as well as letting the air through while deflecting the sun’s glare.
13. All aboard!
Only put the washing machine on when you have a full load ready for washing – less hot water is used in the process because the drum is fuller meaning less water needs to be heated. If you think about it, most of us have more than enough clothes to last out until the next wash so why not see if you can half the number of washes you do each week?
14. Choose a lower temperature washing program
Most washing powders and detergents now promise to get clothes clean at 30C or even less. By turning the temperature down on the washing machine it saves money on the bills. Most of the clothes we wash may be only lightly soiled so choosing a quick, low temperature wash will be more than adequate to ensure a clean set of clothes.
15. Fill up the dishwasher
Wait until the dishwasher is completely full before you put it on. Use an economy or lower temperature program if your dishes are not heavily soiled and you’ll save plenty!
16. Change the program
When tumble drying clothes, tumble them on the iron program. Clothes will feel slightly damp but this is the point when you should iron them. Ironing them damp will not only reduce the drying time spent but also the effort needed to iron them and in turn, reduce the amount of electricity you will need trying to remove dried-in creases!
17. Put on extra layers
Unless you live in the tropics, consider putting on a sweater when you are in the house and then turn the heating down a couple of degrees. Simple changes like wearing slippers or adding an extra blanket to your bed help keep you warmer and the heating bills lower.
18. Keep your freezer full
Most modern freezers are ‘frost free’ but did you know that keeping your freezer full reduced the amount of space that needs to be cooled? Try to keep your freezer fully stocked with food or fill the space with empty plastic food storage boxes instead. If you have an older freezer, keeping the thing full will also help prevent it becoming frosted up.
Take a shower instead of a bath – ¼ of the water, ¼ of the electricity too, not to mention that you don’t have to clean the bath out afterwards!
20. Let nature cool you
Rather than switching on the air conditioning or an electric fan, open the windows on opposite sides of the house. Most buildings cause some sort of air disturbance and this means if you create a ‘channel’ through which the air can pass it will cool down your rooms without wasting electricity. Even on days when the air is still, there’s always some air flow.
21. Learn how to use your refrigerator correctly
Most modern refrigerators are ‘zoned’ into different cooling areas and by placing the correct food items within those zones will make the most out of the space. You should be able to reduce the cooling temperature a little – again, reducing electricity consumption.
22. Fill the oven before you fill your plates
If you are cooking a roast or something that uses the whole oven for just one dish, consider putting vegetables into a lidded container to cook in the oven too, rather than putting them on the hob. Why heat an empty space?
How nice it is to get away from the daily grind once in a while and feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair and the sand beneath your feet!
Great if you have the cash but what if you don’t? What if you can’t afford Cannes or to visit Vienna? Just because you can’t jet off doesn’t necessarily mean a break is out of the question.
While we cannot wave a magic wand and transport you overseas, we can give you some ideas on how you can make your budget stretch that bit further!
23. Go camping
The great outdoors beckons and it’s about 75% cheaper than staying in a hotel and if you have kids, they’ll love it. Some campsites have the new style wooden pods so if the bugs bother you, you can rest behind closed doors. Cooking for yourself is also a lot cheaper and much easier with the kids in tow. If your campsite allows it, cooking on an open fire adds to the experience!
24. Bed down
If you really like to sleep in a bed and not a tent – find a Bed & Breakfast – they offer inexpensive and personal touches that a big expensive hotel cannot. They are also situated in a wide range of locations not serviced by the bigger hotels and can sometimes provide you with much more detailed local knowledge of the area.
25. Book last minute
If you are prepared to take a small risk, there are always bargains to be found – especially if you look online. Decide which weeks you are prepared to travel and start looking about one to two weeks before.
26. Book inclusive
Look for totally inclusive holiday packages where you and your family can enjoy a break without having to pay separately for anything. If you are prepared to stay within the hotel grounds, you will save a small fortune!
27. Stick to your own country
It’s pretty rare that someone has visited all the towns and cities within their own country – see what’s out there and you might be surprised. Discovery aside, you’ll also be supporting your own country’s economy.
28. Register with a number of holiday companies
That way, you will receive any holiday offers, discounts and last minute bargains immediately by email as soon as they become available, rather than having to scramble for the offers that go on general release.
29. Read the small print
Keep an eye out in the national newspapers, some companies offer huge discounts on their holidays or flights if you collect a certain amount of vouchers from the paper.
30. Stay at home
Treat yourself to a week of relaxation in your own house and garden – invite family and friends and experience how relaxing your home can be with a little consideration of your own space.
31. House swap
There are many agencies that specialise in arranging house swaps throughout Europe and even internationally. Some swaps even include the use of cars to ensure that you are literally home-from-home when on holiday.
‘Mark Twain’ once wrote “Clothes make the man” and that, “Naked people have little or no influence on society”. That’s all well and good if you have a never-ending supply of cash but what if you don’t?
Being a dedicated follower of fashion does not necessarily mean you have to sell a kidney in order to buy that little black dress or that leather jacket that’ll get you noticed. With a little imagination and a bit of determination you can create and maintain a wardrobe that won’t cost you a packet.
32. Go vintage
Check out vintage clothing for a change – there are some great finds to be had in the many second-hand shops popping up everywhere and you’ll find something nice for half the price.
Have a clothes swapping party with your circle of friends – a great way to swap an old items of clothing for something different and combine it with a social occasion at the same time.
Just because something has a hole or a tear in it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the line for that garment. Grab yourself a needle and thread and get mending. If you don’t feel confident enough to do it yourself, seek out a repair service and get them to do it. It will be much cheaper than replacing the item and you get a bit more life out of your clothes.
35. Dye and dry clean
If you don’t look after clothes they are going to start to look a bit shabby after a while. If something has lost its colour depth, buy a washing machine dye and bring it back to life again. Equally, that coat you once loved so much will look much better if you treat it to a periodic dry clean to bring it back to life again.
36. Remove that pilling
Invest in a pilling remover, a small hand-held electric shaver device that when run over clothes, will remove pilling or as some people call them, ‘bobbles’. Your clothes will look amazing.
If you’ve got a sewing machine, a clothes pattern and some fabric you can easily make your own clothes. The trick is to start off with something simple like a scarf or a cushion and then progress from there. Not got a sewing machine? Look in the second hand shops or on ebay and you will find one for a fraction of the price of a new one.
Armed with a needle and thread or a sewing machine, you can modify some garments and give them a new lease of life. If trousers are worn in the knees, turn them into shorts rather than throw them away.
39. Sell your old or unwanted clothes
If you have old clothes that no longer fit or you just don’t like them wearing anymore, take advantage of popular websites and apps to sell them online. Alternatively, hold a yard/garage sale or a car boot sale to gain some extra cash and to make space for something else. If you are not sure how much to sell it for, have a look at what other similar items have sold for.
40. Buy second-hand
We waste so much money buying clothes that we might only wear once or when we get home, decide we don’t like and they remain in the wardrobe. If people are selling these clothes they are going to sell them online so start looking! It’s not like you are going to spend as much as you normally would so don’t worry too much about an item fitting when you receive it as you can always sell it on!
41. Check out local car boot sales, garage and house sales
Again, another great outlet for clothing bargains and you might even get to try clothes on if you are lucky. You also get to see how clean the person is who is selling the item of clothing.
Everyone likes to receive a little present now and then but does it really have to break the bank every time we give? Does it really matter if the gift isn’t as new as it could be or that it might not be from the latest range?
When it comes to what the word present actually means, it’s time to re-think the joy of giving and get back to basics.
42. Buy second-hand toys and computer games
Simply clean them up and wrap them up in a different box. If the original packaging or instructions aren’t included, look on the internet and print them out. If your kids demand new stuff all the time, it’s down to you to remind them that once they open the box, the item’s no longer new.
43. Set a spending limit
Decide on a present spending limit for all presents given between adults or better still, make a declaration that you all are going to give a specified amount to charity instead. It’s amazing how inventive people become when budget is limited and it also adds to the fun of giving and receiving. Whether you give just a little or you give a lot, remember that charity helps someone.
44. Make presents instead
Try knitting something or painting a picture for someone and see how pleased they will be with their handmade present. Okay, it might be an odd shape or not as good as Monet but be sure that the recipient will treasure the gift more than you think.
45. Swap last year’s unwanted presents
Everyone has presents they don’t particularly like and swapping them for someone else’s gift may redress that problem.
46. Get baking
Make some delicious cupcakes or even a small fruit cake and customise with some inventive decorative ideas. People love these as more thought and effort has gone into the present and they cost very little to create.
47. Grow and give
Buy some cheap terracotta pots, some potting compost and a packet of seeds. Everyone likes a plant or a flower and if you’ve grown it yourself especially, the present has much more of an impact as growing something from scratch takes time.
48. Shop in advance at sales
Always have a look at shops with sale items in. If you have a birthday coming up in the near future you may just find the perfect present at a fraction of the price. Also, buying a present now to give to somebody later means you’re fully prepared when their birthday comes and prevents you having to rush round at the last minute.
49. Consider buying music marked as ‘used’
If you are thinking of buying a CD as a present for someone, buy a ‘used’ CD instead from a website like Amazon. You’ll find that you can sometimes save up to 70% on the price. Items re-sold this way are generally in very good condition and the only thing different from buying a brand new version of the same thing is the plastic film (the annoying bit!) – Quite a difference in cost!
In the Garden
City or suburban, young or old – everyone likes a garden and especially one that looks good and doesn’t cost the earth to create!
With a little bit of planning, you can preserve the plants you have while contributing to the environment and at the same time grow some food for yourself and your friends without having to rely wholly on the supermarket each week.
50. Take cuttings
If you do this before the end of the season and you will ensure your plants go further next year. If you have too many cuttings, grow them to maturity and give them as presents.
51. Grow your own
Growing your own vegetables and herbs doesn’t have to involve expert knowledge – anyone can do this. All you need is a bit of soil and a packet of seeds – you can even use a used plastic food container to grow things in. For an easy start, try growing herbs and tomatoes from springtime onwards – both can be grown inside and put outside once the frost has gone.
52. Register for an allotment
Allotments are becoming very popular and you can grow yourself a range of vegetables, fruit or as some people prefer flowers for cutting. Properly planned, planted and tended, an allotment can provide most of your vegetable needs for a whole year!
53. Create a compost bin
Add grass cuttings, clippings or vegetable peelings to it. Turn the contents of the bin with a pitch fork regularly and before you know it, you’ll have a rich, free source of compost for new plants and plants that have been in the same spot for years and need fresh nutrients. As well as using peelings from the kitchen, you can also compost unwanted paper and cardboard. Tear/shred it first and then add it between your other compost stuff. It will rot down in no time at all and insects will love it, contributing to faster compost.
54. Save your plastic pots
Wash and save anything plastic that food has arrived in and use for seedlings and small plants. A couple of holes in the bottom of any pot will ensure that your plant grows just as well as if it were in a standard plastic pot. Apart from reducing the environmental impact caused by dumping plastic into landfill sites do you think your herbs give a hoot what they are grown in?
55. Swap cuttings and plants
When you take cuttings from your plants before the end of the season, take a few extra to swap with friends or neighbours. That way you get an excellent variety of plants and flowers in your garden without paying a thing – remind them to take their cuttings when you take yours.
56. Plant a small fruit tree
As well as contributing to a better environment, you contribute to your table. Any fruit you don’t use at harvesting can be sold, preserved or swapped with other ‘harvesters’.
57. Grow companion plants
Instead of using expensive and environmentally unsound insecticides on your plants, let nature help you by planting companion plants next to the plant of flower you want to protect. Companion plants can either act as a distraction that insects favour instead or a deterrent where the strong scent will put off would-be pests. Garlic is an ideal companion plant and is very easy to grow – just plant the clove beside the plant you want to help protect and let nature do its stuff.
58. Collect water
Buy a water butt and take advantage of free rain water that is collected from gutters and downpipes. Use it in your garden or to power a jet spray cleaning system. Why waste perfectly good water from the tap and pay for metered water when nature provides it for you to collect?
59. Fix your energy costs
Register for a fixed gas & electricity tariff to ensure you get through the winter without any surprise fuel increases. Combination packages where both gas and electricity are supplied by the same company can also add to that saving.
60. Change your light bulbs
It’s an obvious one but replacing normal incandescent bulbs with energy saving bulbs translates into lower electricity costs. It’s amazing just how many people still use the old bulbs when they could be saving money now. Okay, so they cost a little more than normal bulbs but in some cases, they can last up to 40 times longer!
61. Invest in solar water heating panels
It doesn’t matter if you live in a country where the sun might not shine all the time, modern panels are designed to capture even the slightest of light and convert it to energy for heating hot water. The initial investment is the hardest part, but you will be immediately getting a return on that investment as soon as you turn on your tap.
62. Unplug things when you are not using them
It’s surprising how much electricity is wasted on mobile phone chargers and televisions that are not being used but are still using electricity. Get into the habit of doing this at night before you go to bed and you’ll soon start to see a reduction in your electricity bills.
63. Invest in solar electricity panels
Although a long term investment, you will see a return almost immediately by being able to reduce your electricity costs and in some cases, selling back electricity to the power companies giving you an income you can use to offset your initial investment. You could even use that income to pay for some hot water solar panels.
64. Go inclusive
Subscribe to an inclusive telephone call package where you can call for as long as you want and when you want – look at your previous bills to see what, where and how long you are calling to help identify the right package for your household.
65. Buy an energy monitor
These little gadgets attach to your electricity meter and let you see just how much electricity you are using and what it is costing you. When you start to add up the costs of leaving things plugged in!
66. Invest in a home heat exchange system
This ventilation system will collect and distribute the warm air from warmer rooms and distribute it evenly to the colder rooms and it costs practically nothing to run while distributing up to 70% of the heat generated in just one room.
67. Share an internet connection
Share the cost of your internet connection with your neighbour – most wireless systems can transmit beyond the four walls of your house and you will both get the same service for half the price.
68. Downgrade your mobile phone package
When was the last time you looked at your mobile phone statement to see if you were using the full number of free minutes and texts? If you are paying for mobile internet connection and not using it more than a couple of times a month get rid of the extra cost now. Opting for a more flexible, monthly contract will also give you the freedom to decrease or increase each month.
69. Turn the thermostat down
Turn the heating thermostat down a couple of degrees – you will hardly notice this small change in temperature but you will notice the difference in the amount of money you are saving!
70. Check your refrigerator
Turn the refrigerator temperature down a couple of degrees in winter and increase again in summer – most people don’t realise that their refrigerator is actually set on average 10% too high!
71. Wrap those pipes
If you find you have to run your cold water for a minute or so until it gets cold or equally, run the hot water until it runs hot, you might benefit from putting insulation around your water pipes. Most pipes run alongside each other and if you think about it, hot will make cold warm and vice-versa! Adding simple insulation to pipes will reduce the amount of water you need to run off before getting the right temperature. Equally, if you have hot water central heating and the pipes to the radiators run under floorboards, you can also insulate these to keep the hot water hotter for longer.
72. Fill up your attic and your walls
Adding loft insulation to your attic may sound expensive but it’s not and you will recover the cost over two winters. A lot of heat escapes through the roof of a house and the insulation can be completed in day! If your house has cavity walls, consider having cavity wall insulation injected into the cavities. Again, you’ll notice the difference almost immediately and your heating costs will be greatly reduced!
73. Let the breeze flow
If you are too warm in summer, open a window on one side of the house and another on the other side. Most houses will experience a nice draft of air through the house without the need for fans or expensive air conditioning.
74. Turn down/turn off individual radiators
Turn down/turn off radiators or storage heaters in rooms that are not being used all the time. Consider that in the evening when most heating systems are on, you will typically be using one room so why heat the whole house if you don’t need to? With a bit of thought, you can always turn bedroom radiators up ten minutes before going bed and down again in the morning. You might also consider buying heat reflective panels that can be placed between the radiator and the wall so that more heat is directed into the room.
75. Make use of any available heat
Why not drag out that old clothes airier and place that in front of a radiator or storage heater instead of automatically using the tumble dryer? If you alternate between this and the tumble dryer you’ll greatly reduce your electricity bill and save wear and tear on your appliances. (Do not place clothes in front of an incandescent heater or an open fire.)
76. Close internal doors
It’s amazing how much heat is lost through an open internal door and it’s even more amazing that we have stopped realising why they are there in the first place. If you want a room to heat quicker and retain that heat, keep that door shut!
They say that man (or woman) cannot live by bread alone but we can also be a bit frugal when it comes to comes to using what we have without unnecessary trips to the supermarket and feeding the garbage bin! It’s scary how much food we, as westerners throw away and just how much that food actually costs! Planning and consideration are the key points in this section – thinking before you buy and buying to a plan will help reduce your food waste and reduce your costs!
77. Try to trim
If, for example you usually spend around $60 on your weekly food bill, try to cut it down by $10. It doesn’t actually sound much but if you calculate that over a whole year you can save yourself a whopping $520 – enough for a short holiday or a blow out at Christmas.
78. Write a list and plan your meals
Write out your shopping list for the week ahead, that way you know what products you will actually need to buy. If you don’t take a list to the store you will end up putting non-essential items in your shopping basket which you don’t actually need and haven’t budgeted for.
79. Weigh up the details
Look closely at the price per kilogram/lb/grams of loose vegetables as you will more often than not find that it is much cheaper to buy loose vegetables rather than the pre-packed vegetables. In most cases, buying in bulk will translate into a reduction too.
80. Try supermarket ‘own’ brands
Think twice when you have a famous brand of food in one hand and the store’s discount own brand in the other hand, you will notice a big price difference between them, but not that much difference in taste or quality. Remember the power of marketing and that often, perception of ‘quality’ is just what the marketing men want you to believe.
When out shopping you should always try to visit the ‘Reduced for Quick Sale’ area in the supermarket first as there may be ingredients here which are reduced considerably and may be on your shopping list to use that day or the following day – especially vegetables and fruit. If you manage to grab yourself a bargain, check if the item can be frozen or not, you can then defrost it at a later date but be sure to eat it once it is defrosted.
Always be on the lookout for voucher and money-off coupons. These can be found in various places such newspapers, websites and flyers through the door etc. Even if you don’t actually need the product that particular week you are doing your shopping, keep it to one side for when you do require the item.
83. Ingredient sharing
When planning your menu for the week, pick recipes that share a common ingredient. If you also prepare food in larger quantities, it will save you money in electricity / gas and time in the long term. Simply freeze anything you are not going to eat.
84. Eat by season
Planning your menus to make use of food that is in season ensures you are not paying for food that does not need to be shipped in from another country and this can mean the costs are greatly reduced.
85. Feed the pets
Got pets? Don’t throw away waste food and instead, mix it in with your pet’s food reducing the amount of pet food you have to buy and improving the nutrition quantity of the food.
86. Joint buying power
If buying in bulk puts you off because you think you won’t be able to use so much of a specific product, consider asking your neighbours, extended family or work colleagues if they want to buy in with you. Agree a few common products and nominate someone to buy these each month to achieve a greater saving for you all.
87. Buy frozen
When you consider that most of the ‘fresh’ meat we buy has been frozen at some time along its journey to the shop, it seems odd that we as consumers are happy to spend up to 20% more for this meat because we have the notion that fresh is better. Buying frozen meat means one less defrosting cycle and will save you a lot of money in the long run if you can remember to take that joint out of the freezer the night before! Frozen vegetables can be just as good and again, they are much cheaper than buying fresh and you can use what you want and reduce unnecessary waste.
88. Make your own wine and beer
Making home-made wine is one of the easiest things you can do. As well as being easy to make, you can even use leftover ingredients like potato peel if cost is prohibitive. Simple ingredients such as raisins, rhubarb or even apples can help make delicious wines to consume yourself or give away as companion presents.
There is nothing more true than that old adage of “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” but how many of us do indeed, watch those pennies?
Do we really take enough time to track what is coming in and out of our bank account? Keeping track of what money comes in is easy, but not as important as knowing what and where that money is being spent on.
In this section, we look at making a few common sense changes and hopefully in time, you’ll be a more knowledgeable master of your finances like you never imagined.
89. Know your bank balance at all times
Keep an accurate note of your bank balance and avoid costly overdraft charges by agreeing a safety limit with your bank before you need it. Some banks will even send you an SMS message when you are approaching your balance limit.
90. Pay off your credit card balance each month
Pay your credit card bill off before the interest charging period starts. A simple thing, but something nearly everyone forgets (or neglects) to do. Setting a reminder in your phone each month to do this will save you a small fortune each month.
91. Transfer balances between credit cards
If you are struggling with the interest repayments on your current credit card or you simply want to defer paying hefty interest charges, think about transferring your credit card balance to another company which offers 6 months or more interest free credit if you transfer your existing card balance to them. Remember to always read the small print as there is likely to be a transactional charge for balance transfers. Even if there is a charge,it will most likely cost a lot less than the interest you would be paying if you kept your balance on the original card.
92. Use cash and not cards
If you have difficulty in keeping tabs on what you are spending, withdraw your weekly spending budget in cash. Leave enough money in your bank account to pay the bills you know will be deducted automatically. Seeing the physical cash and how quickly it actually leaves your wallet will change your spending habits for sure!
93. Save the small stuff
Start a loose change jar! It’s surprising just how quickly that loose change will start to turn into a handy lump of cash and just when you need it. Encourage your children to save their pennies, that way they won’t be asking you for money all the time and they’ll gain a better appreciation of how much things cost when they have to dip into their own funds!
94. Forget the lottery
Don’t waste your money on buying lottery tickets each week, instead set up an automatic transfer from your current bank account to put this amount into a tax free savings account. By the end of the year you’ll have typically saved anything between £50 and £150, depending on how many tickets you stop buying. A guaranteed return that you can spend or reinvest and you won’t even miss the small monthly deductions.
95. Pay your bills monthly and switch to online statements
Change your bills to monthly payment and paperless billing. Most utility companies will charge you less for doing this and you’ll be saving on wasted paper as well. You will also maintain greater control of your budget if you know what amounts are going to come out of your bank account each month by simply looking online.
When it comes to entertainment, perhaps it might appear that this is the most difficult area in which to make potential savings. After all, why should we have to give up something we really like?
Well, to start with, you need to save money and you’re not going to do that by squandering the savings you have already made by not adjusting this part of your life.
Even though the thought of cutting back on the social side of life might scare you a little, it can actually help you to re-focus on the kind of stuff that you might have forgotten about and preserve your health in the long term too!
96. Skip the pub for a change
Skip going to the pub every 4th weekend and save the money in a jar. One weekend per month off the booze could mean 25% off your monthly booze bill, 25% less calories intake, 120 minutes less at the gym or even enough money for a little weekend break after every 3 months of abstinence.
97. Forget the cinema for once
Instead subscribe to an online streaming service like Netflix or LoveFilm.For less than a price of a single cinema ticket you can watch a couple of films in the comfort of your own home.
98. Start a monthly DVD social
Start a monthly social and take it in turn to host at each friend’s house. Bring a bag of snacks and bottle or some cans and you’ll save a fortune by not going to the pub while still being able to get out of the house and socialise.
99. Dine-in competition
Copy the ‘come dine with me’ concept and motivate your friends to join in. The basic idea being that within a group of five people, each person takes it in turn to cook a meal for a group of friends until everyone has cooked. At the end of the meal, everyone secretly scores the evening out of ten. Each host has to provide some sort of entertainment which makes every turn that little bit more challenging. Increase the challenge by introducing a maximum budget to keep costs low or agree to donate a small amount of money as the prize for the winner. This is also a great way to raise money for good causes while having a little fun.
100. Go out an hour later
It doesn’t sound much but if you do that every time you go out you could be saving around 10-20% from the amount you spend on drinks in a night. Added up over a year that can easily equate to the price of a small holiday!
101. Do some volunteering
Giving a couple of hours of your time each week will get you out of the house and help you avoid spending money on drinks! As well as learning something new, you will be doing your bit and there is nothing like helping someone else to make you feel amazing!
So there you have it – lots of great money saving tips. Some of them you will no doubt find easy to implement and some slightly more difficult, but you will reduce your outgoings if you make just one of the changes – we know that and you know that.
While we are proud of the money saving ideas explained in this article, we also know how difficult it is to make that switch from carefree to cost conscientious consumer and we would be lying through our teeth if we said otherwise. But if you can make that change, be it small or a large change, you will start to feel the benefit – now that we can be sure of!
Tips for Success
Open your mind to change and embrace your new behaviour.
Make a note of what you are spending now, in a month’s time and review after 6 months – you will see saving but only if you track what you are doing!
Stick to your plan and commitment to saving money – okay, so your situation may eventually ease but it will ease much sooner if you stick with your plan
Think change for the better – not change for the worst
Share this article with your friends and social media followers – if everyone is working together to reduce their spending, it’s much easier to achieve goals
Be creative! There are literally hundreds of other small ways in which you could reduce the amount of money you are spending without having a negative impact on your life
If you think you can cut costs now, remember that you can probably continue to save money well into the future!