Making lifestyle changes in order to save money is a chore, but the difference that it can make to your finances can be staggering. When you know that you need to cut back on your spending but you don’t know where to start, try looking at our top 10 tips below. Perhaps you already do some of these in order to keep your household finances ticking over, or perhaps you’re new to being thrifty. Either way, it’s important that you don’t take on too much at once, or it’ll only be so difficult that you give up altogether. Start with one or two changes and get used to these before introducing others. You’ll find your cash flow improves in no time.
If you make a habit of eating out at restaurants, getting takeaways or even buying your lunch from the local sandwich shop every single day, then you need to rethink exactly how much you’re spending in this area of your life. Just spending £3 on a meal deal sandwich every lunchtime for 5 days a week, 48 weeks per year comes to an eye-watering £720. Where you can, it’s always best to pack your own lunch. This doesn’t mean you have to give up eating out and enjoying takeaways altogether of course, it just depends on how much you’d like to save.
Taking taxis or using your car for short trips can really make a dent in your available cash, even if you only do it every now and again. When you need to make a short trip, remember that walking is free and is very good for you. If you live in an area where public transport is reliable, then this is also preferable to taking a taxi. Car share on your way to work to save on fuel or look into getting a bicycle if you want to be more independent – there are so many ways to save money on transport and ditching the car could be the best thing you’ve ever done for your bank account.
The next time you’re in your local bank, ask them to print off a list of your Direct Debits and Standing Orders. What many people don’t realise is that they’re still paying money for things they assumed they’d cancelled months, if not years, ago. Old gym memberships, charity payments, internet subscriptions…the list of possible payments is endless. Go through these with a fine tooth comb and cancel any which are out of date.
Saving money on entertainment is easy with a little forward planning. Rather than heading out to the cinema or to an expensive day out the next time you have some time free, why not try to save some money by opting for staying in and watching a TV film, walking in a park or on a beach, or hosting a dinner party for your friends. The possibilities are endless and do not have to be expensive. You could also check for online vouchers which will get you money off entry to local attractions.
Money can feel like water when you’ve got children – it’s hard to hold onto and it always seems like it’s pouring down the drain. Entry fees to parks and attractions, toys, games, food and entertainment can mean that your kids take up the majority of your household budget. However, while children will always be expensive, there are some very cheap things you can do to keep them occupied. Taking them on nature walks, creating treasure hunts and baking cakes takes up time, but it doesn’t have to take up a lot of money. There are a huge amount of free resources online for you to use, so why not start planning ahead when it comes to entertaining the kids? Not only could it save you lots of money but it will also keep your children happy and occupied too.
The energy that you use in the home, whether that’s electric, gas or water, all costs money. We’ve become used to having these amenities at our fingertips, and many of us don’t realise that we’re spending money every time we use them. If you have equal or fewer people living in your property than you have bedrooms, then you may benefit from being on a water meter. This will only charge you for the water you actually use, rather than charging you a flat rate. When it comes to heating, turning your thermostat down by just 1 degree can save you more money than you may realise.
Try to keep a list of everything you need to buy, and stick to it. If you feel the need to buy something which you hadn’t planned to, wait 24 hours. Once this time has passed, if you still want to buy it and you can afford it, then go ahead. Giving yourself 24 hours’ leeway takes the impulse out of the purchase and helps to give you some perspective about whether you really want it or not.
Many people find that the envelope system is one of the best ways of saving money. The idea is simple: you budget into categories. So you may spend £100 on transport, £50 on entertainment etc. Put this money into labelled envelopes and stick to the amount you’ve allocated for that month. Once an envelope is empty, you cannot spend any more for that category.
Getting rid of debts is a sure fire way to reduce your outgoings each month. Where there are more than three different debt payments to make, you should put all your efforts to paying off the smallest one first, and then the next smallest once that one has been paid off, and so on. Make sure you pay the minimum amount for all of them, but concentrate extra efforts to the smallest.
If you have a contract phone, it may be more cost effective to get a Pay As You Go SIM card. Many phone service providers do special deals where you pay a certain amount each month for minutes, texts and data, and most of the time this will be cheaper than a contract deal.
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