Having goals to work towards is the first step to savings success. If you’re saving for a house deposit, use a deposit calculator to determine how much you need to save overall. When you have an end goal in mind, you can then consider how long it’s going to take to reach, and what your interim goals are to help keep you on track.
Picking up bits of shopping each day from a ‘convenience’ shop means you’ll pay a premium for the convenience and are more likely drawn in by ‘offers’ for things you don’t need. Taking the time plan your meals for the week and make a shopping list will help you to focus on buying what you need once a week and avoid ‘convenience’ shopping. If you don’t have time to go to a supermarket weekly, online food shopping is quick and convenient, while still saving you money.
Planning meals is also a great way to avoid spending extra money on shop bought lunches while you’re at work. Meal deals may seem great value but over the course of a working week they soon add up, and taking leftovers from last night’s dinner or just preparing sandwiches at home can cut the cost.
Household bills are one of the main areas where households often overpay, including energy, broadband and insurances. It’s easy to compare different providers and find one that can offer you the most savings. Input what you’re currently paying for into an energy comparison website such as uSwitch or Money Supermarket, and you’ll soon see how much you could be saving.
This may sound drastic, but can you remember the last time you actually watched something on cable or satellite TV channels? When streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a great selection of series and movies at a fraction of the cost, and with free services such as BBC iPlayer and ITV player, it begs the question why are you paying so much for your TV services?
When you take out a mobile phone contract with a new handset, the monthly payment is split between tariff (the minutes, texts and data that you can use) and handset. You may think you’re getting the handset free, but over the course of your contract you will pay for the phone with interest. And if you don’t negotiate a new deal when your contract ends, you could continue to be charged for the handset after it is paid off, according to Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis is urging mobile phone users to go SIM-only and reduce their phone bill to as low as £10 per month. If you want a new phone, buying the handset outright can save you paying the interest on a monthly basis.
Gym memberships are one of those things we all take out with good intentions and use relentlessly for the first few months, but then stop going and forget to cancel. But there are ways to exercise for free (or little cost) without the gym. Walking/running/cycling outside in the warmer months is great for the mind and the body, while during the winter months you could invest in some kettlebell weights and just use your body weight to do one of many free workouts found on Youtube at home.
You might not think you can live without your daily latte, but spending £3-4 per day on coffee soon adds up. Try switching to a good brand of instant coffee, and if you can’t live without the frothy milk invest in a Tassimo or similar coffee machine (which allows you to have Costa Coffee at home), or try instant latte and cappuccino sachets at a fraction of the cost.
Getting in the professionals can be costly, whether that’s to prepare for selling your current home or making your new home your own. If you’re not DIY savvy, don’t instantly reach for the yellow pages. Browse Pinterest or Youtube for helpful videos and blogs on how to do things around the house, from hanging wallpaper and painting to putting up shelving or building a stud wall in your home. There are many things that can easily be done without the need for specific skills and expertise.
Put a reminder in your calendar to sit down once a week and track your progress. Check what’s been going in and out that week, update your budget and see where you’re at in relation to your savings goals. Doing this weekly will help you to see the positive impact that the changes are having on our finances, motivating you to keep them up.