So you’ve got a car, you’ve got a house, you’ve got friends (that like drinking and going out for dinner), and you know what, you don’t really fancy putting your life on hold. But you want to travel… and somehow you need to find those extra pennies. I’m no Money Saving Martin (I think that’s his name, some bloke my mum regularly quotes, “Well in Martin’s latest email…”) but nevertheless I am getting quite good at making my less-than-the-national-average-salary get me where I want to be.
- Work out your budget. Dull, dull, dull – but sadly necessary. By all means pur yourself a glass of wine to help you through it (I’ll come to alcohol savings later!) Look at your bank statements from the last three months, get a blank piece of paper and draw up three columns with the titles: “Direct debits/outgoings”, “Things I don’t want to give up” and “Naughty”. The first column is fairly obvious – include all bills and regualr payments, column two for me had things like haircuts, dinners out, drinks, magazine subscriptions etc, while my column three featured naughty names like H&M, Zara and Topshop. Next, add up column one – plus your weekly food bill and look at that against your salary. It made me realise how much I was actually spending on things I didn’t want to give up/naughty purchases. This is the key stage – work out what you want to save against how much your willing to sacrifice. Then set up a direct debit so your savings are transferred the day after you are paid into another account you can’t touch. I find it helpful to then withdraw my weekly spending money every Monday so I can see it disappearing in my purse, plastic is deceiving but when your notes disappear you get a little bit more tight!
- What else can you give up? Be reasonable about this – remember if it’s a long-term savings plan you still need to enjoy life. I cancelled my contact lense direct debit as I had a surplus of lenses and my partner quit his gym membership and bought some weights, which he combines with running. I’d like to say we stopped drinking but we didn’t… each to their own.
- Can you get rid of your car? I did – got a bike instead – and now I travel everywhere for free!
- Use TopCashBack whenever you buy anything online – it’s a website that will transfer you to the page you want to go to (almost like a search engine) but it pays you a small percentage of whatever you buy in commission. While I only make about £50 a year, I know someone who books a lot of hotels through work and made over £1,000. Quidco is another popular site but they charge £5 a year.
- Everytime you’re about to buy something online go to www.vouchercodes.co.uk – there is almost always a discount code you can use. For example, when we hired a car recently we went on this website and found an 11% discount, then we paid for it via TopCashBack and got 8 per cent cash back – we saved about £10.
- Get a second job. Sounds rubbish but doing one night’s work a week could make the difference between you staying on budget rather than going into your overdraft by £100 every month. I couldn’t get a bar job or restaurant work due to the nature of my day job, so found work copy-writing online a few hours a week. There will be something that suits your life… find it.
- Check your energy bills – are you in credit with your gas and electricity provider? If so call them and ask for the money – why should they make interest on it? It’s yours! Put it straight into that ISA…
- What do you do with your “free council tax” months? Every Feb and March you are council tax free! But you’ve budgeted for it so transfer it into that tax-free ISA you’ve set up before you are tempted to spend it…
- Put a pound in a pot every day. This one is priceless, I promise. Buy a pot you cannot get into (we once had a metal tin with a big tacky £50 note image wrapped around it and we currently have one of those posh pottery numbers that you have to smash on a ceremonial occasion) and put £1 in every day. The last time it provided all our spending money for a weekend in Sovenia and by the time we break into the next one we should have about £600 for our forthcoming Bali trip.
- When it comes to food shopping – set a budget and stick to it. Ours is £50 a week – it makes cooking imaginative and we don’t eat any worse for it at all.
- Don’t stop doing things – just do them cheaper. Living in Nottingham, I visit my friends in London about once a month and rarely spend more than £15 on a return ticket – book in advance with Megabus (which is actually a train) and National Express buses are often £5.
- eBay. Enough said. Everything you don’t want, or don’t need – stick on eBay (make sure pics are super, descriptions are enticing) and everything you do need – buy it on eBay!! I unashamedly love clothes but cannot justify fashion as an outgoing at the moment so I recycle clothes on eBay. For example, I bought a beautiful French Connection dress (retails at £130 bought on eBay for £30), whcih I intend to wear to a glitzy London hen do, then I will re-sell it to buy a beautiful dress for a wedding a month later. I will then re-sell that for the next wedding – and so it goes on. Make sure you buy labels because you are guaranteed to sell them on at the same sort of price – I normally make a profit actually. I think eBay tips might be worthy of their very own blog space soon. Watch this space!
- If you own your own house can you have a lodger? We had a great lodger for a while that stayed with us during the week and went back home at weekends, giving us the space and privacy we were used to on the most important days of the week! There are websites for these kind of arrangements, one of which is www.mondaytofriday.com – but there’s loads more.
- Want a weekend away? Do it! Camp or find a dirt cheap B&B… take homemade sandwiches for the road and work out where you want to splash your cash – one night posh dinner, cheap grub the rest of the time? Trust me, it can be done!
I’m sure there are more – I might have to come back to this topic, but if you have any more tips leave them below – I’m always on the lookout for more ways of saving cash. My motto is Live it Like you Love it…. but sadly that often comes at a price (flights to Bali were not cheap) so the cash has to be found!
Happy savings! x