Saturday, 4 January 2014

New Years Resolutions: Saving Money

This is the fourth post of ten that I am doing to cover the most common New Year Resolutions, this post will give you some handy tips for saving money throughout the year, we will be looking at different aspects of life where money can be saved. I hope you enjoy!

What do you spend your money on?
Before you even try to save money it is good to identify where you spend the most. To do this it might be useful to look through your bank statements from the last couple of months and use highlighters to signify different types of spending e.g. leisure, clothes shopping, eating out. You will start to notice a pattern emerging in your spending, perhaps it is that you end up buying coffee a couple of times a week or that you frequently spend £30+ on nights out. 

This is quite easy providing that you know your outgoings and your earnings. If you don't know exact amounts then make sensible estimates. The Money Advice Service provide a really in depth budget planner for those of you who really want to scrutinise your spending but if you are new to this budgeting malarkey you can use this simplified version. Hopefully this will give you some idea as to where your biggest spends are, some things will be unavoidable whereas other areas will be easier to restrain. If you are spending less than you earn then this is good news but it is still worth saving money to spend on something nice like a holiday. If you are spending more than you earn however, then this is a warning sign to reign in your spending now! Read below for my hints on money saving.  

Don't worry, you'll probably be better at budgeting than this bellend
Cutting unnecessary spending
Eating out/Fast food/Buying lunch
Eating out can be a lovely experience but is often very costly. I love going to restaurants (because I love food and I'm too lazy to cook) but I find ways around spending money.
  • I like to use money off vouchers in restaurants, it might seem cheap but why pay more for exactly the same food? A simple google search will come up with loads of vouchers. I also use apps like o2 moments to see what offers different places have on
  • It also helps to limit how many times yo eat out, make it once a month and it will feel much more special
  • Restaurants may also have a menu which is cheaper if you eat earlier on in the evening, so be sure to check the menu before you go. 
  • It might also be fun to have a come dine with me style dinner party if you want fancy food but don't want to pay through the nose for it
  • Dine in for £10 deals - Tesco and M&S both have these now, they are perfect for a cheap date or if you fancy something nice
  • You can get excellent supermarket substitutes to fast food. Instead of ordering pizza I now buy Chicago Town Takeaway pizzas because they are delicious and the equivalent from Domino's would cost a whopping £13 which is just daylight robbery. You can now get chinese and indian ranges too. I also like to make my own wedges because they cost sod all. Pro tip: to make wedges in half the time, cook in the microwave on a paper towel for 2 minutes each side then cover in a little oil and spices then grill until golden
  • Making your own lunch is totally worth the money you save especially when you are just buying salad or sandwiches, just make sure you have a strong container like this one to store everything in. Here are 25 lunch recipes to inspire you
  • I also now make my own coffee too saving me at least £1.50 a cup!
Oh my God, it is delicious!
I love going to the pub but it can be a massive drain on my budget so now I drink in the place where my friend works to get cheap drinks... just kidding, I drank there before but I do appreciate the staff discount ;)
In all seriousness though there are ways to save money whist still getting delightfully sloshed. 
  • Pres - predrinking is the pinnacle of the student money saving. Having a couple of drinks at home before you go out will prevent you from buying overpriced drinks in da club, either that or you will make a complete tit out of yourself as you fall over in the queue.
  • Drinking in moderation - don't drink every night it is bad for your health and your wallet! Reduce drinking to a couple of times a week and save going wild for special occasions.
  • Alcohol free drinks - between drinks order an alcohol free one as these are typically much cheaper.
  • Cocktail party at home - cocktails are fancy but often cost £4+, you can make cheaper versions at home. So get the girls round and enjoy yourselves. Here are some delicious money saving recipes.
  • Don't buy rounds - everyone fucks off after you've bought them a drink  

Watch shit at home or see what your local university has to offer. Universities often have their own cinema nights which can be accessed by non-students as well. Although you have to wait a little while to watch the latest films (about 6 weeks) they typically cost about £1.50 a ticket and you can take your own food in! 

You can see my money saving exercise tips here

Clothes shopping
Clothes are frigging expensive but you can save money while still indulging slightly.
  • Only buy things you need
  • Limit the number of shopping trips you take
  • Shop in charity shops
  • Set yourself a monthly budget that you can afford
  • Have a clothes swapping party
Don't fall into the trap of more expensive meaning better quality, it is a farce. If you only buy branded high end cosmetics why not try something cheaper? Temptalia offer a list of beauty dupes which are extremely accurate and will save you money. MUA and ELF are to basement brands which offer great make up which is sub £5 typically. I highly recommend MUAs nail polishes and ELFs eyeliners and blushers. I also recommend using Fragrance Direct to get cheap beauty products and perfume. Here are my top 10 beauty products under £10.

Saving on the essentials

  • Ring your supplier and ask for a reduction, the worst they can say is no!
  • Shop around for your best deal - don't always assume you are on the cheapest rate, you might be offered a deal if you tell them you are leaving
  • Consider cancelling your TV subscription - unless you need it for something specific, i.e. sports channels, you can get most channels using a subscription-free box
  • Insulate your home - get insulation in your loft to stop heat escaping, use one of those draft excluder sausages that your nan has for the front door and consider getting thicker curtains
  • Economy7 - If you are already on an Economy7 tariff, start using your appliances at night
  • Do you actually need a TV licence? - Pro Tip: f you move house/no longer need a TV licence you can claim back for what you haven't used 
  • Plan your meals - this ensures you only buy what you are going to eat, I like to use this one
  • Stock up on non-perishables when they are on offer
  • Shift down challenge - try dropping down a brand, you'll be amazed that you don't actually taste the difference between Finest and Value
  • Shop at Aldi - Aldi is typically 40% cheaper than normal supermarkets
  • Shop the market - if you have time, go to your local market for the best deals on fruit, veg and meat
  • - heavily discounted, 'almost' out of date food but we've been sent stuff that has months left on the expiry 
  • Make your own lunch - as mentioned before
  • Use less meat - substitute with much cheaper legumes and beans
  • Use my recipes!
  • Use your leftovers - has some amazing recipes for using your leftovers
  • Use coupons - supersavvyme have coupons for all sorts of products but you can find food coupons online as well
  • Buy discounted food - if it's about to go out of date, lob it in the freezer. You'll be surprised by what you can actually freeze  
  • Buy frozen or tinned veg - it is just as nutritious 
  • Buy seasonal produce

Making money
Wait till they have a 'free listing weekend' where all auctions starting at £1 or more do not incur a charge. Normally you can list things under 99p for free.

52 Week Challenge 
This is based on the idea of incremental savings, below is the chart that you could follow. If you think that you wouldn't be able to save this amount you could alternate weeks so in week 1 you save £52 but in week 2 save £1. Another alternative could be to save £1 a day which would make it easier to set up a direct debit of £7 a week into another bank account. 

Let me know your suggestions for saving money in the comments below or on twitter or facebook. To see all posts in this series click here

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