January was a long month. I got paid just before Christmas which means that my wages have had to last just over five weeks including Christmas and New Year. Pay day today could not have come sooner! Scraping through January waiting for pay day, I learnt some ways to save quite a bit of money each month and I’m definitely going to continue this way and hopefully continue saving throughout the rest of the year.
Before I carry on, I feel like I should point out that I’m not a financial advisor, these are just a few things I’ve been doing that have saved me some money over the last few weeks.
1. Work out what money you should have left over each month after rent, bills, food and any additional spending money you might need throughout the month and put it into a savings account at the start of the month, that way, it’s not in your current account to spend throughout the month.
2. Make your own lunch. Plan ahead, do your shopping at the start of the week and make your lunches for the whole week ahead. If you have your lunch with you at work/college/school, you’ll save money by not going out to buy food. If I go out at lunch time to buy food I usually spend £4-£7 but buying pasta, chicken and a vegetable sauce at the start of the week only costs me £10 and that lasts the whole week.
3. Similar to number 2, plan your evening meals at the start of the week and make sure you buy all of the ingredients you will need in one go. I like cooking huge meals on a Sunday which will last for a few days. That way, when I finish work late on a Tuesday evening and can’t be bothered to cook I know I have food ready at home so don’t need to go out and buy something else or order a takeaway.
4. Buy unbranded products. We’ve started shopping in Aldi and it’s brilliant! Whilst they don’t sell many branded items, we haven’t found anything that doesn’t taste just as good as the branded products and, on average, we’re saving about £20 (between us) on our weekly shop.
5. When you’re clothes shopping don’t just pick up an item and head straight for the till. Walk around the store with it in your hand whilst you look around at other things. If after you’ve looked around for a bit, if you still want the item, buy it. After using this tactic, I’ve found that about 70% of the time, I’ve changed my mind and put the items back. It stops you buying things that just sit in the back of your wardrobe never worn.
6. Make the most of free things to do in your home town. Whilst I haven’t taken full advantage of all of the free things Manchester offers yet, I certainly will be.
7. Limit meals out to special occasions. If you fancy a “treat” or something a bit different there are lots of options out there that are cheaper than eating out but just as nice. We are a fan of Marks and Spencer’s meal deals – they feel more luxurious than your ordinary meals at home but don’t break the bank like a meal out (you also don’t have to leave a tip which saves you even more money!!)
8. This one, I appreciate, won’t apply to many people at all but my mum bought me a coffee machine for Christmas and it’s saved me loads of money. Quite often I would buy coffee from Cafe Nero or Starbucks on the way to work or over the weekend, spending a minimum of £3 on a coffee each time. With my coffee machine I can get 8 cups of coffee (I’m currently working my way through a box of latte pods) for just over £3 which is a huge saving!
9. Shop online – there’s always some way of saving money whether it be finding the same product in a different online store at a cheaper price or finding a discount code which can be applied, reducing the price. There’s also a few cashback websites around so even if the product isn’t cheaper, you may be able to buy through a cashback website.
10. Book any train tickets you need well in advance of when you need to travel (I know this one is obvious but I just got a ticket from Manchester to Peterborough for just £11!!!)
11. Buy beauty products that are on offer. Boots, Superdrug, Wilkos etc. always have some sort of shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser, cleaning products on sale. I’m quite fussy when it comes to make up and face moisturiser but when it comes to shower gel or toilet roll or washing up liquid, why would you not buy the one which is on offer?!
12. Trade nights out for nights in! I know this sounds boring and I don’t mean don’t go out at all, just make compromises every now and then. For example, instead of going out with my husband for drinks tonight, we went to the supermarket and bought a few beers to drink at home to save some money because we have plans to go out with my sister tomorrow night.
Like I said, these are just a few ideas that I have been using to get me through January and whilst they won’t make you a millionaire, it’s a good way to save a few pounds. Just remember that no matter how much you need or want to save money, always have fun because if you restrict yourself too much you’re much less likely to stick to your plans of saving. If you get really bored at home, you’re more likely to have a big blow out and spend loads of money on a whole weekend of expensive fun!
On that note, I’m about to grab a beer, run a bath and spend the rest of the evening reading!