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Strictly Come Dancing has started, Downton Abbey is back, and there are more conkers on the ground outside than you could shake a stick at. Despite the still rather warm days there’s no doubt that autumn is well and truly here, which means that winter is just around the corner. We all know that this tends to be a time when fuel bills rise and holidays get expensive but, whether you’re saving for the trip of a lifetime next year, or you’re just looking to get household spending under control, there are some easy ways that you can make some savings as the seasons change.
It’s only October, we’re still at least nine weeks away from Christmas, which means that there is still time to gradually buy everything, from food through to gifts. It’s really worth stocking up on store cupboard essentials now before the ‘Christmas’ price tag doubles the cost of staples like nuts and fruitcake. The end of the summer sales can prove to be a great hunting ground for cheaper Christmas presents and don’t forget Black Friday (27th November) and Cyber Monday 30th November) when you can make purchases at incredible discounts online.
The Christmas party season is not yet upon us and that makes it a great time to start getting yourself party-ready by going for a detox. The principal benefit here, of course, is cutting out alcohol, which is one of our most significant expenses, as well as being a contributor to weight gain and a whole range of other problems. It depends how much you drink but you could save anywhere upwards of £50 a month from cutting out the booze. Jeremy Clarkson recently revealed that his dry spell has saved him £500 a week. And if you want to detox for charity then you don’t have to wait for Dry January – the cancer charity Macmillan is asking people to get sponsored to Go Sober For October, for that added bit of motivation.
This sounds very obvious but there are so many hidden costs that few of us really think about when it comes to making savings that actually have a big effect on our budgets. Coffee is one of the biggest accumulated costs – a daily latte could set you back £15 a week, which is £60 a month and £720 a year! You could pay for next summer’s holiday by taking a thermos instead. Food is something many of us don’t buy very efficiently – the old adage ‘don’t go shopping when you’re hungry’ is very valuable here. Plan out your meals, buy in bulk and don’t make impulse buys. Supermarkets are set up to encourage us to buy what we don’t need so take your list with you and stick to it. Although the weather outside might make you feel like you agree with the supermarket advertising pushing you to try a new soup, pudding or cake, you’ll just end up short as a result.
The car is perhaps one of the biggest expenses many of us have and you can make real savings by cutting down on its usage. In winter we tend to become even more dependant on cars thanks to the good old British weather but you don’t have to let your car drain your cash. Bundle your trips together and be more efficient in the way that you use your four wheels – try to plan routes that take in several of your errands at once rather than doing one after the other, and wherever you can jump on a bike or leave the car at home and just walk. There are many health benefits from walking and cycling so you won’t just be saving money.
Some of the biggest savings come from the simplest sources and the easiest way to making yourself some savings this winter is to cut the cost of fuel. You can do this simply by turning down the thermostat and consistently keeping the house heated at a lower level, rather than blasting the heating sporadically when you get cold. Unless you’re seriously chilly then put on another sweater before you reach for the thermostat dial and make sure that you’re not letting valuable heat escape underneath doors or via the cracks in the windows. It can be worth getting an insulation survey – free from some energy companies – as this will tell you how good your home is at keeping in all that valuable heat. There are still grants available to help you insulate your property.
Spending within your means (or keeping within your budget) is the best way, but what do you do if an unexpected problem comes along that blows all your money plans out of the water? Maybe your washing machine has stopped working and you need to repair or replace it. If this is the case and you don’t have the spare cash now then you could take out an instant short term loan. There are a number of instant cash loan options but we encourage you to be careful using them.
Oliver Jones has written for Solution Loans since 2015. His passion for personal finance comes through in the 150+ blog posts he's written since that time. His talent for explaining all things money means he's covered topics as diverse as...Read about Oliver Jones
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