Congratulations! You made it through what is technically the hardest month money wise. January is always pretty tough – it’s cold and miserable for one, but secondly all that Christmas overspending just plays catch up with you. You seem to have to wait an unending amount of time for pay day to roll around and by the time the last week appears you are eating 9p baked beans and super noodles at every meal. Sound familiar?
But as I said, you made it. You’ve been paid and it’s awesome. But before you go off on the spending spree of the century to celebrate, just consider this – wouldn’t it be nice to hold on to a few more of your pennies each month? Save for a holiday or maybe a posh handbag? Or maybe to actually have an emergency fund just in case the worst were to happen.
Here are some fuss free, easy peasy ways to save a pound or two – and you won’t even notice them.
1. Downgrade your grocery brands
It’s time to set yourself a challenge. Instead of reaching for the top notch named brand or the posh own brand, I want you to downgrade to the next brand available and give it a try for a week. Love Kellogg’s? Try Tesco own brand cereal. Addicted to Goodfella’s pizza? Why not give Sainsbury’s fresh pizzas a whirl.
Changing our supermarket habits to be blinded to brands, and to just buy a product is hard going – because we are now hard wired to want brands we see on the telly or think are going to improve our lives. Let me tell you – they won’t. They’ll just cost you a little more.
Already at supermarket own brand level? The shift down one more gear to value brands. Honestly, they are awesome – I use value brand washing powder, tinned tomatoes, humous, chopped fruit, frozen veg and some frozen fish. It tastes the same and I save SO MUCH MONEY FOR WINE.
Already a grocery shopping rockstar? Try these food shop hacks for size.
2. Eat less (honestly)
Alongside downgrading your brands at the checkout, I’m going to suggest you eat less. No no, this isn’t a crazy diet or batshit mental food skipping plan, but we are going to look at portion control as a way to save money.
It’s all too easy to cook up a storm, pile up your plate and EAT EVERYTHING even when you don’t need to, or worse, stick it all on your plate and leave most of it behind. No more. Instead you are going to still cook up a storm, but you’ll dish up exactly what you need to eat, or what a normal portion size should be, and box up the leftovers for lunches (see below), freeze them for later or stick them in the fridge for the next day.
I was using a whole cous cous sachet to feed one person as a side dish (SAY WHAT?!) and instead I split it in half and save the rest for another meal. It’s going to add up to a huge amount over the life time.
3. Check your direct debits
It’s all too easy to let this one slide, but it’s takes less than 5 minutes to sort and you could be quids in. Go to your online banking, log in and check through the direct debits and standing orders on your account. Subscriptions that have lapsed, old utility bills? Cancel them immediately and you’ll save.
Next stage? If you’ve over paid anywhere, go and claim it back!
4. Always bring food to work
This appears to be quite the foodie list, but food is an area that in the modern age we are so susceptible to overspending on. I’ve been consistently bringing in a packed lunch to work for years now, and I save AT LEAST £25 a week by doing it.
Not only do I bring in my lunch and my breakfast (I have a long commute so don’t eat at home), but I bring in fruit and snacks so stop me nipping down to the corner shop. This tip will save your pennies, but it will also save your waistline.
Need more ways to save money whilst at work? Check out these top tips.
5. Shop around
It doesn’t pay to just leap on the first shop you see, and no one will be congratulating you for spending more on an item than you should. Seriously – why would you do that?
I tend to use a good mixture of internet research and sites like Money Saving Expert, comparison sites for things like my bills and insurances for the home and a whole heap of online discount codes and vouchers to get me money off when I need to spend.
VouchaCodes.co.uk is a great place to find vouchers for discounts on things you need – you can search by store and you can sign up to their email.
6. Use cash back sites
Just like shopping around, you’d be made to buy something and not see if you can get some free money back. That’s right – some free money! Cashback sites are a fairly established way of purchasing items and I’ve made over £1000 back over the course of 5 years on things like insurances, hotels, travel and goods I’ve bought online.
It’s easy, it’s quick and it’s the obvious place to start saving you some money. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of your cashback adventures!
7. Save your pennies
Hopefully you’ve been doing this since you were a child, but there is nothing like a timely reminder. I pop all of my pennies, 5ps and 20ps into a jar, and at the end of the year I’ll count them all up and take them to my bank in money bags.
Ok, so this isn’t going too make you a millionaire granted, but it is easy to do and it will give you a wee bit of money for a mulled wine in December. I actually know people you chuck away their pennies. No – you can make even the 1ps work hard for you!
8. Give yourself a weekly spending budget
This is probably the hardest tip of the bunch, but it will save you a shit-ton of money over the long term. After things like bills and my mortgage payment has gone out and all the direct debits, I give myself a weekly budget. Out of that comes eating out, entertainment, clothing and beauty bits, and sometimes it is very hard to make it last.
But a weekly spending budget really encourages you to be disciplined, and make informed choices about how to spend your money and time. No, you won’t be able to go to Pizza Express every night for dinner – but if you are reading this blog you probably weren’t doing that any way!
This is the ultimate way to get your back in the black at the end of every month.
9. Check your travel
Most people aren’t lucky enough to either work from home, or live on the doorstep to your office. I have a mammoth commute of over an hour into central London, and as well as the boredom, delays and lack of comfort, the other problem is the serious dollar I have to spend. It is over £2000.
But if you are really smart, you can scrape some savings here too. Buying a season ticket (whether weekly, monthly or yearly) always provides mega savings, even if you are not making the same journey at weekends. I have a zone 1-6 travelcard for London which I can use without restriction on any day, and even if I don’t use at weekends, I save around £300 over the cours eof the year. It gives me flexibility AND I don’t have to muck around buying tickets every day.
Every city will have deals on both buses and trains, so head to your local station or use train company websites to find deals. For example in Nottingham Premiere Buses has a deal for 10 trips for £5 – making each journey only 50p! Bargainous.
10. Keep a spending diary
Scary? Yes. Worthwhile? Definitely. I’ve been keeping a spending diary for quite some time now, and it is eye opening – it terms of how much those little transactions now and then add up to something massive. For me it is iTunes, food and skincare bits (having cut out my Asos habit) – but for you? Well how will you know until you keep that diary? Pop it in a notebook, and spreadsheet or a a scrap of paper – but no longer will you be scared to log on to your accounts!
So this has been a mega post – with loads of tips. Which is your favourite? And what are your best money saving tips?
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