Everybody needs help with saving money sometimes, whether you’re a doctor, student, or freelance writer! So, here are just a few tips to master in your every day life to help make saving that little easier and that little bit more ‘habitual’.
Some of these may seem obvious, but that’s honestly the case every time when it comes to saving money. No magic tricks, no hidden secrets, just trying to plan ahead and be sensible with your choices.
1. Bring your own packed lunch to work
If it’s possible to do this, then do it. Seriously. There are a few real benefits.
Firstly, you will (of course) be saving money. Buying your own food and bringing it in to work will be much cheaper than buying lunch out or at the staff canteen every day (unless you’re at some kind of super company who feeds you for free. In which case – capitalise on that my friend! Get second helpings!)
Secondly, it’s just better for you. If you buy your own food you can regulate what you are eating, and how much you are eating. You know exactly what’s going in to each serving.
2. Cook in bulk
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s such an easy way to save money I’m going to say it again! If you cook in bulk you can save a lot of cash on food.
Making a huge pot of spaghetti, or stew, or curry (literally anything you want), you can then use it again for dinners the rest of the week, prep it for work lunches, or even freeze it to eat it at a later date (I’m thinking the week before payday when things in my house get pretty lean).
3. Learn and use the Ten Second Rule
This is something I read about a while ago and have since embraced it totally. It recommends that when you pick out something whilst you shop, or put it in your basket in the supermarket, stop for 10 seconds to think about why you are buying it or if you really need it.
I tailor it slightly for when I go clothes shopping. If I pick out something I like then I usually give it up to an hour and go to a few different shops, to really assess if I like it or need it. If I’m still thinking about it then I will go back and get it, but if I’ve forgotten about it or gone off the idea slightly, then I’ve just saved myself some money!
4. Do your food shop online
The biggest issue with food shopping is that when you go to the store you are more likely to impulse buy. Maybe you are swayed by a great offer that you don’t really need, or you’re hungry so you decide to buy a few treats. The best way to avoid this is to make a comprehensive list of what you need to buy and then do it all online.
This means you aren’t lured by things that you see on the shelves, and the offers are easier to see. The basket also keeps a running tally of exactly how much you are spending as you go along, this means that you can stop when you reach your limit, or readjust your priorities so that your shopping always comes in on budget.
5. Switch accounts to get the best deal
This takes a little time and effort on your part, but it can really save you money. Traditionally, Brits are more likely to stay with their bank than they are with their partner. This trend is slowly changing, so try to take the plunge and be a part of it. Many banks will offer great new deals or discounts in order to entice new customers. Take advantage of them, as these days it’s pretty easy to change your bank account – they do all the hard legwork for you.
This also goes for anything where you will be a long-term customer. Think phone contracts, mortgages, and insurance policies. Always be on the look out for new and better offers. Sometimes, in order to keep you on board your current provider will be willing to match these offers. This is a win-win situation for you, the same great savings with less hassle.
6. Walk when you can
It’s a no-brainer. Walking is free, transport is not.
The easiest way to implement this is to start walking on a daily basis. I realise that not everyone can walk to work, but maybe you could pay a cheaper train or bus fare by getting off a stop or two earlier, and then walking the rest of the way.
Good for the wallet and your health.
7. Drive sensibly
I appreciate I sound like your mother on this, but bear with me. Driving between 55-60mhp is more fuel-efficient than going at the 70mph speed limit. If you can’t keep to that speed then definitely stick to the speed limit, because driving at 70mph is 25% more efficient than driving at 80mph (plus, you know, the breaking the law thing isn’t great).
Also, maintaining a steady speed is more efficient than constantly speeding up and slowing down.
8. Dump channels you don't watch
My boyfriend is the worst for this. We have 15 channels for watching sport. 15. I didn’t know there were 15 different sports. We also have channels for films that we never use and obscure American TV channels we’ve never watched once. We don't NEED any of them, but we continue to pay for them!
If you don’t watch them, then ditch them. Loads of providers are happy to create bespoke bundles. Even better, ditch pay TV entirely. It’s expensive, and you can always find cheaper (legal!) streaming options online.
9. Always pay off your credit card in full each month
Sometimes this isn’t possible, but if you can, then always try to pay your whole credit card debt off each month. This means you will not have to pay the company extra in interest payments. It will also stop the debt mounting up and spiralling into an unmanageable amount.
10. plan out your year ahead in presents!
I know how this makes me sound! But honestly I’ve been doing it for years and it’s great. You always end up giving the best presents because you haven’t had to rush the buying process.
If you see something nice on sale in June then buy it and store it and give it as a gift at Christmas. It makes like so much easier and (top tip) you end up looking super generous because you haven’t had to skimp on gifts.
By spreading the spending you don’t use up a huge part of your paycheque in one go, which, in turn, forces you into spending on your credit card. This is especially good advice in relation to events like Christmas, where you usually need to buy more than one present.
If you pick up just one or two of these habits they will save you money, and in turn could lead to further good spending habits. Just do your best and if you slip up and blow your savings, or make a few bad choices then don’t beat yourself up. Just wait for things to steady and just start again!