Being aware of your spending is essential for anyone, especially if you are in the process of buying a home. Whether you’re building a deposit or could do with extra money for when you move in, knowing what your outgoings are each month can be a major advantage.
Here are just some of the ways you can keep better track of how much you’re paying out, which will help you identify where you can make cutbacks in your day-to-day spending.
1. Leave your cards at home
Making sure you only have a certain amount of money in your pocket when you go shopping will help restrict spending. Credit and debit cards are convenient methods of payment, but they could lead you to pay out more than you’d budgeted for.
Contactless cards also make it easier to spend. Since the contactless payment limit increased to £30 in September 2015, consumers can now make even bigger purchases without entering their PIN.
The UK Cards Association reveals that in October 2015, Britons made 120.5 million contactless card payments, with the average payment standing at £7.72. Although this might be a more convenient way to spend, the costs will soon start to add up and could eat away at your savings.
2. Switch to save
Remaining loyal to your energy and financial product providers won’t always be to your advantage. Data published by Gocompare.com Energy shows as many as 15% of homeowners in the UK have never switched gas or electricity provider. For just over a quarter, this is because they perceive it to be a difficult and drawn-out process.
Similarly, there’s been a decline in the number of people switching their current accounts. BACS reveals that in 2015, a total of 1.03 million changed provider, down 11% from the previous year.
If you already have a mortgage then the same principle applies. Lee Cardwell, an independent advisor from Mortgage Bureau in Rotherham, explains there are usually more competitive deals available and the process is much easier than most people believe.
“In most cases, people will come to the end of their current deal and will switch to another product with the same provider, rather than go elsewhere,” says Lee.
“If you don’t take any action, your mortgage will revert to the standard variable rate product.”
Remember that as the customer, you should be in the driving seat. Mortgage lenders, current account providers and energy companies are all the same – they want to prevent you from moving to a competitor. Using this to your advantage and negotiating a better deals should save you money in the long run.
3. Control your spending in the supermarket
Did you know the average UK family spends £58.80 a week on food and non-alcoholic drinks? This is around 11% of your weekly budget, the Office for National Statistics reveals, so cutting spending in this area could benefit your short- and long-term savings goals.
Compiling a shopping list before you visit the supermarket will help focus your attention and avoid impulse buys, all of which add up over the course of a year. You might also want to think about substituting your usual purchases for supermarket own brand products.
Online supermarket shopping is another option if you are keen to reduce your spending. Supermarkets are designed to encourage you to make on-the-spot purchases, which you can avoid if you’re only adding the items you need to your basket. This can also be an advantage if you usually drive long distances to your local store, as it will save on travel costs.
4. Be more energy-aware at home
Bad habits around the home could mean you are paying more for your energy bills. Leaving appliances in standby mode is one of the most common examples – the Energy Saving Trust estimates switching them off entirely could save you around £30 a year.
Other advice such as only filling your kettle with as much water as you need will save you £7 a year, while washing up in a bowl rather than under a running tap will reduce annual energy costs by as much as £30.
Insulation could be a wise investment. While new homes are built to strict environmental standards, the same can’t be said for older properties. Putting insulation in your loft space will save you around £240 a year if you live in a detached home, or £140 if you live in a semi-detached property.