January felt like the longest month EVER, didn’t it? I’ve spent the last few weeks budgeting, shopping smart and reducing costs wherever I can – in an attempt to avoid feeling the pinch – so I thought I’d share my thoughts and tips to help you save money.
Use budget stores like Lidl and Home Bargains – you will find you can halve your costs simply by shopping at a different store. Make use of special offers to stock up on more expensive things such as fizzy drinks, toilet roll (I know – boring!), laundry detergent… you get the gist! Compare prices of items at different supermarkets – some things aren’t always cheaper at Lidl, so it’s always good to do a little research to make sure you save money.
Don’t Be Lazy
You can save so much dolla by jumping in the car to go food shopping rather than getting it delivered. It’s also best to try to make sure to drive past your favourite fast food restaurants and resist the temptation to grab a delicious, comforting easy dinner! A couple of McDonald’s meals a week can set you back so much if you’re trying to save money. Their meals don’t fill you up for long and have low nutritional value – so why spend £££ on then? I love a McDonald’s meal as much as the next girl, but reducing your fast food purchases to once a month (come on, you don’t need to cut it out completely!) will save you SO much money, and you’ll feel better for it!
I’d also suggest preparing your lunches for taking to work ahead of time – yes, nipping to the shops for lunch a couple of times a week might seem fairly cheap, but when you add it up over the month it is actually quite pricey. I usually make an extra portion of food at dinner and eat the leftovers at work the next day. This saves so much money, means you don’t have to go to the shops during your lunch break, ensures you’re eating well (and not just snacking on crisps) and might give your co-workers some serious food envy!
Set Up a Budget
Work out your monthly outgoings on a spreadsheet and figure out how much you need to set aside for bills, rent/mortgage, fuel, food (be realistic here). Each budget will be personal and tailored to suit you, but I include the following on my spreadsheet and go back through a couple of months of transactions to figure out my spending.
Here’s what I suggest including:
Subscriptions (eg. Netflix, Amazon Prime)
Credit Card Payments
Get Your Caffeine Fix at Home
An obvious one perhaps, but a coffee a day from your favourite coffee outlet might seem like a small luxury to get you through a day at work, but it adds up so quickly after a couple of weeks. Switch up your morning Starbucks on the way to work for a cup of coffee in your travel mug – you’ll save so much money and feel more justified to have the occasional treat coffee out. If you simply can’t resist grabbing your favourite Starbucks drink, make sure to go armed with a reusable cup – you’ll get 25p off your coffee, which at least helps ease the cost a little!
Embrace a Capsule Wardrobe
I mean this in the loosest sense of the term! Declutter and limit yourself to buying one or two new items each month – you’ll find you wear all of your current clothes far more, and the money you don’t spend on clothes you don’t really want or need can go towards something else – perhaps into your savings or towards a holiday!
Create a Meal Plan
Every Sunday I spend half an hour or so planning out our dinners for the week in my bullet journal – this really helps me to be more organised, and saves money as you will ensure you only buy what you need.
You may also like this post, How To Set Up Your 2019 Bullet Journal
Incorporate any potential meals out into your plan, and keep it varied – I like to make sure we have different dinners for at least three weeks before I circle back round to the same recipes. One of my favourite cook books for keeping things cheap and simple is Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients book – shopping becomes so much easier when a meal for two only requires 5 things on your shopping list, and you will probably already have several of the ingredients in your cupboards at home anyway! My favourite recipes from him are the Sausage Carbonara and the Roast Tikka Chicken – both filling, super easy and full of flavour.
Make Use of an App Like Monzo
Monzo tracks your spending at different outlets and you can categorise your transactions. You can easily see how much a cheeky McDonalds breakfast here and there will set you back! You can also set up Monzo so that it rounds up your payments and puts the difference into a savings pot – every little helps, after all!
Save Little and Often
Set up a standing order for a little each week that you won’t notice go into your savings – £5 a week (or monthly if you prefer) will soon add up, and is a nice back up in case you find yourself in a crisis. Whatever amount you decide on, it’ll quickly add up and is an effortless way to make sure you’re saving little and often.
A tricky subject, but one that can be easily managed if you keep on top of it! If you do have a credit card, I’d advise making sure that you stick to your monthly payments to avoid losing any 0% or special offers that you may have – a direct debit is a great way to make sure you never miss a payment. If you have a little more credit card debt, or some money across a few cards, I’d recommend checking out Martin’s Money Saving Expert and getting a balance transfer card with a good rate (0% is always best). This way, you can transfer all of your debt onto just one card, minimise your monthly payments and you’ll stop your other credit cards from earning more interest. Credit Cards aren’t something that you need to be afraid of as they can be useful and are great for your credit rating – but you just need to ensure that you manage them correctly.
So, there are my tips to hopefully help you to save money and spend it a little more wisely. If you have any of your own tips to share, I’d love to hear them!