All of us are looking for new ideas when it comes to finding ways to save money and to hold on to a few more of those precious pounds that we earn each month.
But the sad truth is that many people find themselves living pay cheque to pay cheque and run out of money days before their salary is actually paid into their bank account. If this is describes you, then you’ll probably benefit from some of the most up-to-date ways to save money and start living within your means.
Before we begin, it’s important to be clear about why you want to save money. Is it to save more for the future? Do you want to pay down debt? Or do you just want more disposable income every month and to stop going to the cashpoint only to be told: “Insufficient funds in your account”?
Saving to save money
If you want to cut back to put more money aside for the future, then here is the most achievable plan for doing so:
- Make a note of all of your spending. All of it – every purchase both large and small
- Make a budget using Excel or other spreadsheet software to see where your money is going
- Set some savings goals. Make these monthly and set a target for a total amount six months and then a year from now
- How are you going to reach those goals? How much do you need to save each week?
- Prioritise your spending. What are the essentials and what are the non-essentials which you would find hard to do without?
- Set up a standing order into your savings account.
- Don’t take out lots of cash. Make it difficult to spend money where you hadn’t planned to.
- Find the best high-interest savings account and stick your money there. It may mean that you won’t be able to touch it without incurring penalties.
Clawing back money
- If you have a decent credit score, then consider using a cashback credit card which rewards you every time you use it. Once you’ve got one, use it for your essential spending and pay it back – in full – every month.
- Change bank account. If you’re overdrawn a lot, then you’ll be charged interest and overdraft fees. Save money by switching to an account for lower fees.
- Shop around for insurance. Every time you renew, the chances are that your insurance company will put the premium up. Make sure you shop around every year for the best deal and switch.
- Switch credit card balance to 0% interest cards. If you’ve got a hefty balance on one or more cards, then transfer it to a new card offering 0% interest on balance transfers.
Most people don’t realise how much money they spend on food which then goes to waste. Try tackling your grocery bill with these tips:
- Plan your meals. How many times do you go to the fridge, wonder what you’re going to eat for dinner and then have to go out to buy a takeaway or ready meal. Avoid this by planning your meals for the following week on the day that you normally do your weekly shop.
- Stick to a shopping list. Don’t go to the supermarket and wander aimlessly around the aisles throwing food into your trolley. Go armed with a list based on your meal plan.
- Look out for supermarket deals. You don’t need to shop at discount stores to save money – just watch out for all the special offers at the supermarket you normally shop at.
- Don’t buy branded products. Buy the supermarket own brands where possible and save up to 30%.
- Buy in bulk. Staples and non-perishables like rice are often available for a lower unit cost than smaller quantities. Stock up on the things you use every week.
- Don’t forget to take your own bags. Supermarkets are now obliged to charge 5p for every bag that they issue to customers.
You spend a fortune just getting around. Cut your travel costs by trying the following:
- Keep your car serviced. A well-maintained car will deliver better fuel economy and fewer breakdowns saving you money over the long term.
- Stop accelerating hard. You burn more fuel accelerating hard than at any other time. Instead, accelerate gently to 5mph under the speed limit. Driving in Britain is not a race – the place is far too crowded.
- Sign up to petrol price comparison sites. Find out which service stations have the lowest prices near you before you go and buy petrol or diesel.
- Don’t use your car for short journeys. If you’re nipping round the corner or to the local shop then walk or cycle. Not only are you saving money on fuel, you’ll be prolonging the life of your vehicle because short trips mean the engine is always cold and has to work harder.