Knowing how to save money isn’t something that you typically learn at school, and it’s not something that comes naturally to everybody. And whilst the pandemic has been a trying time for most of us, it’s important to focus on the positives, which have meant more opportunities to save – even if you haven’t realised it.
- Plan your meals
The pandemic has meant that fewer of us are eating out, meaning we’ve started to eat at home more and perhaps spend more time thinking about what we’re eating each day. That’s a saving in itself, but it’s important to make sure that your weekly shop doesn’t get out of control as a consequence.
Whether you plan a monthly, or weekly food budget, an easy way to keep on top of your food spend is by planning your meals. Choose a convenient time to sit down and write out your meals for the week, you could even go as far as including the ingredients – this way you’ll know exactly what you need for your next supermarket shop.
If you have youngsters, the extra time you may have gained by ditching the commute could mean that you’ve got more time to spend prepping family meals so that you can eat together more. This not only helps you save money because you’re only preparing one meal, but it’ll help with cutting down on food waste too.
Tip: Consider a blackboard – you could even have fun with the family by letting everyone join in with list-making. Not for you? Why not check your app store for a meal planner app allowing you to see exactly what you need to create homemade dishes throughout the week.
- Shop online
It’s surprising how much more you can spend when you head to the supermarket for your weekly shop, and we’re talking both in terms of time and money, after all who can resist those last-minute checkout goodies, or the middle-aisle treats that you otherwise had no intention of buying.
So, to help minimise those impulse buys and with the benefit of shopping when you like without being restricted to opening times, consider setting up an online shopping list and enjoy those savings, as well as the extra time.
For convenience you can usually save your online basket too, meaning the next time you come to do your shop, your list of favorites will already be in your basket ready to go. You’ll also benefit from emails with offers too, meaning you’re able to spend more time really considering them rather than buying on impulse when you’re out and about.
Tip: To save even more time, combine your online shopping with your meal planning. If you do both things at the same time, your online shopping basket will be easier to fill.
- Cut out the short car journeys
Making fewer car journeys not only helps reduce your petrol expenses and the need for car maintenance, it also has a positive impact on the environment through reduced emissions. Of course, it may not be practical to cut out car journeys all together, but there are some travel changes we can make without too much effort.
Whether it’s walking to the shops instead, taking the kids to school on their bikes each day or even strolling to friends’ houses instead of driving, we’d all make a huge difference to the environment by pressing the start button a few less times.
And the benefits don’t end there either. Walking more could have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing too. According to CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), one in four people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives and so it’s really important to find ways to switch off, chill out and relax – and walking’s perfect for that.
Tip: Get a step counter and perhaps sign up to your local fun run, the extra incentive to get fit will have you wondering if you ever needed a car in the first place.
- Grow your own way
There aren’t many things much more rewarding than eating your own produce, and being outside can have a really positive impact on our wellbeing too, so it’s not surprising that some of us decide to grow our own fruit and veg as an alternative to shopping in the supermarket.
Whether you’ve a small garden, a window ledge or you’re lucky enough to tend an allotment, growing your own fruit and veg is becoming increasingly popular, and the Royal Horticultural Society has all the tips and advice you’ll need to get started.
With things to plant and harvest all year round, you can choose to do as little or as much as you like, meaning the satisfaction of providing your own harvest (even if it is only a herb garden) shouldn’t have too much of an impact on your lifestyle.
Tip: Get the children involved. Growing in your garden has lots in common with growing your savings, and they’re both brilliant lessons to help teach your child the value of money.
- Organise your home life
Whichever way you look at it, by organising your home life you’re making a saving - whether that’s in money or in time. And there are a few different reasons why it makes sense to pencil in some time each year to get organised at home and have a good old sort out.
This might mean decluttering your wardrobe, having a garage clear out or finally getting the kids to sort through their forgotten toys. There’s always someone looking for a bargain and you could have just what somebody else needs – it might be worth more than you think.
You can sell your unwanted items on a selling site of your choice or you can donate your stockpile to a local charity shop – either way, having a clear out could help you save pennies and space in the long run.
Tip: Once you know what you’ve got, you won’t spend on repeated items and if you sell your unwanted things, you can put the money towards something you really want - win win.
- Check your outgoings regularly
There’s no real secret to organising your incomings and outgoings, and the benefits can be really rewarding too.
By getting organised you’ll know exactly how much money you’ll have left at the end of each month, know right away if you get hit with any bills you weren’t expecting, and, being on top of things could help you reduce your unnecessary outgoings as well – who doesn’t want that.
It’s simply a case of listing your monthly expenditure. Write down all of your monthly bills including when the money is due to leave your account, check in twice monthly to make sure you’re on track and tick off everything as you go.
Whether you’ve got the need to reflect on your regular outgoings or you’ve finally had the chance to sit down and look more closely at your monthly spend, there are some great apps out there that can help automate this too.
Tip: Once you know just how much disposable income you have each month, consider creating a savings plan to help you understand how you’re going to save, and perhaps research different ways to save - you could find savings techniques that you may not know about.
- Keep in touch with your bank and go automatic
Most current account providers have changed the way they do things, and the services they can offer to customers are changing all the time too. It’s now easier than ever to perform tasks like making a payment, transferring money or even opening a new account.
Your bank may also have new features and services which you aren’t taking advantage of. One example is to round-up your spending, meaning each time you buy something, the amount required to make the transaction up to nearest £1 will automatically be placed into your savings account.
This way you could save money that you might not even miss – with no change to your lifestyle.
Current account providers are always improving their services, and so it makes sense for you to keep up to date with the benefits of your account in whichever way you prefer, be that on their website, through live chat, or even on social media.
Tip: If you haven’t already, check to see if your current account provider has a mobile app. This way you could have everything you need readily available in your pocket, and you may prefer the convenience of push notifications to your mobile phone.
Hopefully some of these tips and tricks have given you food for thought on how you can make some simple changes to your lifestyle and help benefit your short, or even your long-term savings goals.