Congrats! You’ve started searching for ways to save money for the New Year, taking your first steps into saving money for whatever it is you want in life. It might sound silly, but I always found it really difficult to start using the money saving tips I found online. They’re always so long winded and difficult to start (no thanks, I don’t feel like calling my internet provider tonight and haggling for £5 a year off the bill..), so I never got around to them and never stuck to them.
That’s not what this list is about. Nope, this list is all about the money saving New Year’s Resolutions you might have taken up, or one of the shiny new best-selling laptops you’ve got your eye on. This list is about finding easy ways to save money you can start doing right now, and actually stick to for the entire year.
- 1 My Top 11 Easy Ways To Save Money
- 1.1 1/ Plan Your Budget
- 1.2 2/ Use A Budgeting App Or Software
- 1.3 3/ Cut Your Expenses
- 1.4 4/ Get Rid Of Your TV Package (Get Netflix)
- 1.5 5/ Keep A Small Change Jar
- 1.6 6/ Use A Price Comparison Site
- 1.7 7/ Don’t Bother With A Home Phone Or Text Package
- 1.8 8/ Make Your Own Coffee
- 1.9 9/ Pack Your Own Lunch
- 1.10 10/ Buy At The Right Time
- 1.11 11/ Cancel Your Gym Membership
- 2 SEE MORE: Shopping Websites: Are The Best Deals Online? >>
My Top 11 Easy Ways To Save Money
1/ Plan Your Budget
I know I know, this is the boring one. This one requires a little bit of starting effort, but stick with me, it’ll be worth it. Just park your butt down with your online or paper statements and list down a few key points:
- Your Major Outgoings: usually the things you absolutely have to pay, like rent, electricity and gas bills, internet and phone bills etc.
- Your Average Food Spend: don’t include the occasional coffee from Starbucks or lunch at Greggs, we’ll get to them later.
- Your Yearly Spends: the things that usually sneak up on us – your car insurance (if you pay it yearly, if it’s monthly just pop it into your major outgoings column) MOT and servicing, etc.
- Your Monthly ‘Spontaneous’ Spends: this is where you put that coffee from Starbucks, clothes you buy, games, really anything that isn’t necessary for you to live each month.
- Surprise Outgoings: car repairs, Christmas, medical bills, vets bills, replacing an electronic etc.
Now that you’ve got this neat little list, add up how much you spend on things you need to pay to live each month. These are the major outgoings (the bills) and the food shopping. Take that away from your monthly income. Now you have money left over to play with. This is the money you’ll want to be split between savings and spending on the things you really want each month.
We’re not done yet though! Now you need to think about your yearly spends and ‘surprise’ outgoings. These are never really surprises, they’re inevitable and you need to be planning for them. You might not have planned for your car to break down this year, but it happens to all of us eventually, and it’s one of the things you need to be prepared for. Figure out how much you’ll need to be saving each month to cover them, and take that away from what’s remaining of your income.
Now we’ve gotten somewhere! With this remaining amount you can either choose to split it and save further for bigger goals than just the little surprises – like a holiday, or a new TV. Or you can decide that saving for the surprises is enough and put it all towards what you want monthly. It’s up to you. Whatever you decide to do make sure you automate your savings. If you decide you need to be putting £200 away a month to cover your surprises plus give you a little more towards your goals, have that money automatically transferred into your savings account as soon as you get your pay-cheque. That way you’ll never be tempted to spend it.
2/ Use A Budgeting App Or Software
Maybe scribbling all of what we just did for your budget down onto paper was a little too disorganised for you. That’s fine, one of the best ways to save money is to get a budgeting app to keep you on track.
You Need A Budget (or YNAB) is what I love to use; it even teaches you how to set a realistic budget and stick to it each month. Ignore that it’s in dollars on their website, it’s easy enough to change it into pounds for us UK users. Even better, if you buy it for your phone you can also install it onto your computer or laptop so there’s no need to repurchase for different devices.
Be careful about what budgeting apps you choose though – the reason why I love YNAB is because it’s like a very clever excel document that doesn’t need access to any of my bank accounts. A lot of free android apps that claim to help you save money do this by giving you instant access to your bank accounts. How? By you entering all of your login details to them when you start using their app. Although the ratings of these kind of apps are generally high, I’d be wary of anything my bank wasn’t a part of asking for all of my security information…
3/ Cut Your Expenses
Now that you’ve got this shiny new budget, you should be able to see exactly where you’re wasting money each month. Maybe you could cut date night to just one outing a month, and spend the rest of your time together at home? And maybe you could skip one or two parties and invite the girls / guys over to yours for a movie night instead to keep costs low?
You obviously don’t need to give up your life all in the name of saving money; you’re still allowed to have fun! I absolutely hate money saving advice from people who seem to think your whole life should revolve around clutching on to ever last penny, never spending anything. In fact, if you’ve been reading any of those then you should definitely have a look at these 7 money saving tips you shouldn’t be using, and then carry on reading the advice here.
Hopefully after having a look at those you’ve realised that there’s only so much you can cut out. Just the things you really don’t want or need – keeping in enough of the things you love that you actually enjoy living your life each month. I bought a new game yesterday, and I felt absolutely no guilt because I’d budgeted for it. What I don’t do any more is have Sky TV, because I realised I could substitute Netflix and use the money I saved on that each month on the occasional game buy. Which leads me to my next point.
4/ Get Rid Of Your TV Package (Get Netflix)
In this day and age, do you really need an expensive TV package? I completely understand if you’ve gotten one because you got a great deal on your internet and line rental too if you bought them as a package, but if not I don’t think it’s necessary.
I used to have Sky TV, but when I looked at how much I was paying for it each month I decided I needed to change. I already had a Freeview television which gave me the majority of the channels I watched regularly, and I looked into Netflix and LoveFilm (now Amazon Prime), eventually settling on Netflix.
Netflix has more movies and TV shows on it than you could watch in a lifetime, with a dedicated kids section. If you have a Smart TV or a games console like the Xbox One, 360 or PS3 or PS4, then you can usually start streaming Netflix through your TV easily and immediately. If not, all you need is a Google Chromecast for around £30 and you’re ready to go!
A Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video subscription costs just £5.99 a month – and I bet that’s less than you’re paying to watch your TV shows right now so you’ll be saving money without even thinking about it. Just make sure you take their 30 day free trials first so you know which one’s got the programmes and movies you want to see the most.
5/ Keep A Small Change Jar
The absolute easiest way to save money on this list, and one I’ve been doing since I was little without even thinking about it. Just start emptying your purse or wallet every week and throw the coppers (and some of the silvers – I pop in all of my 5ps, 10ps and a few 20ps) into a piggy bank for small change. Don’t even bother going out and buying a specially dedicated pot for these coins either, start using this money saving tip RIGHT NOW by going to your kitchen and grabbing out an old mug.
There you go, you’ve saved a few pennies! It seems like nothing right now, but every year I empty mine out and bag it up for charity. Last year I had over £40 to give to a Cats home. Yep, all out of small change. This year I’ve started a second money saving tin; in this one my partner and I occasionally pop in a £1 coin or a 50p. We’ll see where this gets us at the end of the year, but this one is going towards something we both want, like a special date night or something much more dull like a new set of pans for the kitchen.
6/ Use A Price Comparison Site
There are things you’re going to want, or even need to buy, at some point this year and you’ll just write them off as expenses you had to pay. A little used money saving tip is to spend at least 2 minutes comparing prices on the thing you want; especially if it’s a large buy.
Cashback is a nice added bonus to something you’d already be buying! If you want more information on how cashback actually works I wrote an in-depth blogpost explaining all of the ins and outs a little while ago for you.
7/ Don’t Bother With A Home Phone Or Text Package
Again, ignore this first way to save money if you use your home phone because you get free calls in your line rental and internet package. But if you don’t, put that home phone down and don’t touch it again. Check your mobile phone package; the majority of people opt for unlimited calls and data. If you’re one of those people you definitely don’t need to be making calls you’ll have to pay for from a home phone! Just use your mobile, since you’ve already paid for the calls through that. Whenever you need to renew your contract, check out whether it’s cheaper to just get Unlimited calls on your mobile and bin the home phone.
For how to save money on texts, really look at the phone contract you have. If you’ve got no way of getting out of it now (or just can’t be bothered, don’t worry, we all know the feeling) then keep this in mind for the next contract you take out. The likelihood is you have a smartphone and regularly use applications that eat into your data allowance right? If you’ve paid for a high data allowance, or even an unlimited one because you’ve taken this into consideration, then you don’t really need any kind of text package. Get a tiny one in case you need to contact relatives that don’t know how to use messaging applications, but otherwise you’re set.
How? Because there are so many other messaging platforms that only use data. Facebook messenger, Twitter DMs, Snapchat, WhatsApp – there’s something for everyone out there, and your friends are probably already using them. In fact, you’re probably already using them, but using your texts too. From now on stick to the messaging services and save yourself some money.
8/ Make Your Own Coffee
As you probably know by now, cutting out your morning coffee is one of those money saving tips UK bloggers rave about. And as you’ll also know if you read this blog regularly, I don’t normally agree and usually criticise it for being one of the worst ways to save money; saving in spite of your happiness. But hear me out this time.
Making your own coffee occasionally doesn’t mean you have to give up the usual cup you know and love from your local café. It just means you can cut back a little bit. If you like buying a coffee everyday of the week, then cut back to just 3 or 2 times a week. That way you’re saving money, but you’re not giving up the thing you look forward to. Of course, if you really don’t need that coffee all the time then by all means cut it out altogether. But if it is something you really look forward to, I don’t see why you should.
If you want to cut back and start making coffee you enjoy just as much at home, then you’re going to have to make an initial investment. Take a look at the 7 best coffee machines for every taste and find one that’s right for you; whether you love espressos, cappucinos, Starbucks skinny vanilla lattes, mochas, hot chocolates, absolutely ANYTHING you’ll find something to suit you from as little as £20. You could get a machine that takes pods or capsules if you want something speedy, or if you’re more into tailor making your own perfect blend you could get something that takes coffee beans that you have to put a little more effort into.
Factoring in the cost of whatever it is your coffee machine takes; pods, capsules or beans, you should still be saving money in the long-run. If you’re a sugar fiend and worried about not getting the flavours you want, you can even buy flavoured syrups so you can make exactly what you want at home. Then just pop it into a flask and take it into work with you. But you can still enjoy your favourite café blend every so often, you don’t have to give it up entirely.
9/ Pack Your Own Lunch
How many times have you been given this money saving advice? Most people don’t take it though, and spend so much more than they need to on lunches at work. It might seem like extra effort the night, or morning before, that you just can’t be bothered with. But it can honestly be as easy as slapping some ham and butter on some bread and packing it as a sandwich.
Invest in some Tupperware or a lunchbox and get yourself a flask and you’ll feel more committed to making your own lunch each day too. I normally make double portions for dinner the night before, keeping half of it for lunch the next day. That’s a great way to streamline things so that you don’t feel like you’re putting any extra effort into making your lunch.
If that’s just too much for you, buy instant noodles or soup and you can take the packet in and warm it up for lunch. It won’t be as cheap or good for you as making something fresh, but at least it’s easy!
10/ Buy At The Right Time
Retailers can be oh-so sneaky sometimes. Remember how crazy Black Friday was with it’s massive sales? Well part of the reason these sales seemed so huge was because of the artificially inflated prices some time before the event. That’s right, if you’d bough any of the things that were on sale on Black Friday just a few weeks before, you could’ve been paying well over what their price normally is before a sale!
A lesser known money saving tip is to buy what you want, but to wait for the right price. Usually things fall in price at easy to figure out times; like phone prices drop as new phones are announced, office supplies drop when students go back to school and University etc. You don’t have to spend a bunch of time finding all these dates out for yourself though, I’ve done it for you in our best time to buy anything guide.
Another tip, if you’re buying anything from Amazon check the previous prices things have been throughout the year on CamelCamelCamel. That way you can see whether the ‘good deal’ you’re getting is actually a good deal, or whether it’s higher than the product is normally sold for.
11/ Cancel Your Gym Membership
Again, I’m not telling you to give up what you love. If you’re a gym freak who lives for their next workout, then by all means ignore this money saving tip. But if you’re more of an occasional gym goer who doesn’t really get their moneys worth from a membership, bin it immediately.
There are so many home workouts you can do that the gym really isn’t necessary anymore. Just do a search for home workouts and you’ll find tons of free ones online. You might have to make an initial investment for a small set of weights, but that should see you through your every-so-often workouts. In fact, there’s a whole community of people on places like Instagram dedicated to getting just as good workouts at home as at the gym, so you’ll be in good company! And the best thing about it is the money you’ll be saving from that membership.
Pictures: FOX / Via maviedefrancaiseabruxelles.tumblr.com
20th Television / Via hashtagnyu.tumblr.com