Saturday, 6 January 2018

Fed up with being told to stop going to Pret? Yeah, me too

(Four money-saving tips that I've found actually work... because can you even call yourself a blogger if you've never written a post with money-saving tips?)

My friends and I are at that stage of our lives (yep, I feel old just writing that) where we're all desperately trying to save money and make it go further for house deposits, weddings or once-in-a-lifetime trips. I fall in the middle of these; I'm trying to find my own flat, and also trying to see more of the world (next stop: Cuba). Plenty of us are in the same situation, which is why there are so many articles and blog posts out there with money-saving tips. Y'know, things like:
  • Give up buying a coffee on the way to work each morning.
  • Make your own lunch instead of going to Pret every day.
But what if you're already doing these things? My coffee equivalent is a Costa hot chocolate, something I buy maybe twice a year on my way to work, on days when it's so cold I need the heat of that ridged maroon cup just to defrost my fingers. I buy my lunch on average once a month - the rest of the time it's sarnies and cup-a-soups all the way.

I know plenty of you are in the same boat, so I've shared four tips for saving money that have actually worked for me. I'm not claiming that they're original or groundbreaking, but they're all things that I've managed to fit easily into my day-to-day (or month-to-month) life.

Pay yourself

You'll need more than one bank account and a regular income for this one - the one you get paid into, and the one you're saving money into. Set up a standing order so that a certain amount of your salary is automatically transferred into your savings the day you get paid. It's gone before you even knew it was there, so you won't miss it (too much...). 

Tidy up your account

This is something I've been doing for a couple of months now, and is the idea that's saved me the most money so far. Last thing each evening, I log into my bank account and see how much money is in there, then round it off to the nearest £5 by transferring the money into a savings account. So if I have £453.36 at the end of the day, that £3.36 goes into my savings. If you're feeling particularly flush, round to the nearest £10 instead. If towards the end of the month funds are getting a little low and you think you might need the cash, hold off transferring for a few days.

Pay for things in cash

Not always easy these days when it feels like everything is bought online. Once you've worked out how much you need each month for rent, bills, travel, food and all the other basics, plus how much you'd ideally like to be putting in your savings, give yourself a weekly budget for other things. That's meals out, trips to the pub, buying things in shops... all that has to come out of the weekly budget.

Yeah, my piggy bank is a campervan, what of it?
Once you've set your weekly budget, go to a cash machine (remember those?) and take it out in cash. I do this on a Sunday night or a Monday morning so I can see in my purse exactly how much I've got left for the week. Plus, handing over cash to pay for things makes you think twice about spending it - waving a plastic card at a card reader never has the same effect, somehow.
If you've got money left, choose whether to roll it over so you've got more to spend next week (a good way to entice yourself into saving up for medium-sized purchases such as clothes) or put it into your savings.

Write everything down

Find yourself a notebook or journal (the prettier the better - Paperchase has some corkers at the moment) and start writing down everything you spend - every single penny. The big things, like rent, bills and the food shop, and the smaller things like that cheeky chocolate bar or Pepsi you pick up on the way home some nights. Make yourself write everything down as soon as you buy it, even if that's outside the shop on the pavement in the rain.

Usually when people recommend this, it's so that you can see exactly what you're spending where and make cutbacks accordingly (I refer you back to the whole buying-a-coffee-a-day thing). But when I tried this a couple of years ago, I found it such a faff to carry the notebook and pen everywhere, and to be whipping it out to record every little thing, that I soon stopped the impulse buys because I just couldn't be bothered with writing them all down.

So there you have it, my top 4 tips for saving money, in a blog post that I hope comes across as helpful rather than patronising. If you've got any other tips that work for you, let us know in the comments below.

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