Everybody would like to be better off financially and have more reserves in the bank. Some of us could work longer hours or strive for better pay, but this often comes at the sacrifice of other things, such as family life and relaxation time. One of the first and most important ways to have extra cash is to make several small incremental changes to your general habits, that as a whole may make a considerable difference. Many people say that they spend to their means. This suggests that people spend $100 if they make $100 and spend $500 if they make $500. The problem comes when you are used to spending more and all of a sudden income drops or there is an unexpected (or unusual) expense that means the usually ‘free to spend’ amount decreases. This is when some people may find themselves in debt. Now, this article is not about planning for the future. We will discuss ways to make your future that little bit brighter in other articles. Instead, this article concentrates on little things that may mean that you save money without detriment to your everyday lifestyle. The tips here are in no particular order of importance and are for information only. The tips may not be suitable for you. Only act on tips that are appropriate for your own situation and will not be detrimental to either yourself or others around you. The aim here is a little happiness exhibited by one person will spread to ‘the crowd’ and overall your actions will benefit many.
- Get a credit or debit card that pays you money (often as a small percentage) for using it. No matter how small, the amount paid (often as deductions from the bill on an annual basis), is something that in effect is added back to your income. Ensure that you do not end up paying the credit card company EVER. This usually means setting up a Direct Debit to pay off the full amount on an annual basis. Never use this card to purchase thigs that you usually wouldn’t i.e. use this for car fuel, grocery shopping, clothes shopping etc. as well as purchases online.
- If you can afford to, pay into a regular savings account, provided that the net interest rate exceeds inflation (and predicted inflation for the next 12 months). These accounts often require a recurring monthly deposit, but these may pay more than some other savings accounts. Always do a complete comparison and understand the terms and conditions before opening an account. We recommend selecting accounts with no penalties for withdrawing, just in case there is a ‘rainy day’ (unless you have comfortable liquid funds to cover any circumstance). Always use a recognised and trustworthy bank/company offering savings.
- Get prepared for nights in with some tasty food. This will mean that calls to the take away are less frequent. This will save money in the long term and also allows some more healthy options to be selected when you are still in the correct frame of mind to do so.
- If you are going out and intending to drink alcohol, have a little at home first so that expensive drinks when out can be consumed more slowly (always drink in moderation and be careful). Also, have a soft drink or some water periodically. This may not only help save money, but may help you to not get too drunk, whilst keeping hydrated so that the hangover in the morning is less harsh. This does not mean you can drink more, but instead, substitute for cheaper, healthier and more hydrating drinks every now and again.
- Ask a plumber (or suitably qualified individual) for tips on how to save water. This may include fitting a shower head with a more economical flow or placing a suitable object in the cistern of the toilet to ensure that the fill requires less water each time.
- Ensure every bulb in the house is energy saving and safe. Replace old bulbs as necessary. There may be some deals on sites such as eBay, take a look here.
- Buy milk in larger containers as long as you will consume it before it expires. As with many things, larger volumes may lead to a better overall price per unit. As long as you do not horde and keep excessive amounts (or have consumables going off). The same can definitely be said for other products e.g. perfumes.
- Buy used if you can. There are many items that are sold as ‘used’ but have been bought in error or have been used minimally. Think about settees (sofas) for example or expensive items of clothing that get little wear. We would never recommend buying beds, underwear or other items that are directly in contact with skin without the means for cleaning thoroughly, but jackets, formal wear (which is often only worn once) and some dresses, may be appropriate. Again, check sites such as eBay.
- Instead of paying gardeners and cleaners, do it yourself. Many people may pay to do activity e.g. pay gym membership or pay to be part of a tennis or squash club. Why not incorporate activity into mowing the lawn or spring cleaning? This saves money twice over, increases your activity levels and makes you feel better in a tidy and clean home.
- Ensure that you save spare cash in an account that pays a good rate of interest. Compare accounts and if suitable and easy, switch to better rates.
- Every year compare utilities such as gas and electric on a comparison site. If it is simple to switch to a cheaper provider with a similar and suitable service, do so.
- Learn how to drive economically. This saves fuel, often may be beneficial for the environment and generally may make you feel more relaxed when you arrive at the end of your journey.
- Instead of buying small bottles of water and soft drinks, buy a reusable, sealable drinking bottle and refill it by decanting from a larger container that is better value. If you need it cold, add a small amount of water to the bottle and put it in the freezer the evening before (check that the container and volume of water used is safe to be frozen). Fill the container with drink in the morning and then as the ice melts, your drink will be cooled for the day.
- Keep lights and other electrical items switched off when not needed.
- If you have a dual or triple rate electricity tariff, make sure that rechargeable items are charged at the lowest rate.
- Make a shopping list for each time you go to the supermarket. This way you are less likely to impulse buy. Taking a picture of your refrigerator and/or cupboards once full of the correct items may be a useful way to create this list without writing. You will always have a copy to hand too!
We hope that this has been a super useful read. Never do anything that is not safe or that may be detrimental to any other individual or organisation.
Here’s to saving money in the future!