January is always a good time to start anew, and making changes to save your money after the festive season is a good place to start. I know, it can feel quite daunting to look at your bank account after a season of so much free spending but looking is just like pulling off a plaster – you just gotta do it, and do it quick.
I’ve been living independently away from my parents for nearly a decade now so I’ve learnt a few money saving techniques over the years to share. Running a household with one primary income means that we need to watch we spend so I thought I’d list some of my most successful money saving tips:
Spring Clean Your Direct Debits
We have a joint account that our household finances leave from and then my husband and I each have a personal account that we tend to ourselves. Our bank account has a lot of direct debits and standing orders coming out of it for all sorts of things that we tend to forget about like the cat’s pet insurance or our Spotify premium subscription. So, at the beginning of every year we tally up all of the regular payments that we make and make sure that they’re all correct or haven’t expired.
As a matter of fact, I completely forgot that I’d set up a standing order to pay off some electricity bill arrears from our old flat in Cardiff when I was doing the rounds last week. The bill had been paid off in December but the payment had still come out for January – whoops. So, guess who ended up on the phone to Scottish Power for half an hour trying to arrange a refund? Moi.
Shop Around For Your Household Bills
Speaking of regular payments we forget about… I didn’t realise that our insurance for Kipper with PetPlan was £15 per month and we’ve paying it for a year. For regular payments like these it’s not often that you’re in contract so you can always shop around for a better deal. Thus, I spent about ten minutes of my time trawling websites like uSwitch and comparethemarket.com checking up on quotes for pet insurance. It works out that because Kipper’s a young cat and he’s had all of his injections and been neutered there aren’t many additional costs we have to account for so the monthly costs and premiums we can get are a lot cheaper than what we’ve been paying. We just didn’t shop around when we initially set the policy up so we’ve been paying more than we needed to.
Have a double check with your supplier for your electric and gas bills and check if you’re in an arrangement or on a particular tariff with them – and then shop around. You could be on a standard tariff with your electrical supplier and be paying a daily standard rate as well as your usage per month, and if you’re not planning to move home in the foreseeable future you could be eligible for a cheaper plan than will save you some cash.
Sell Your Clutter
I noticed a lot of charity clothes bag on the street the other day and it inspired me to have a clear out. With my step-daughter growing at an exceptional rate and only having her in our home for six weeks of the year I had plenty of clothes and bits that she’d outgrown in her room so in a charity bag they went for the next collection. As great as it is to give to charity in any way we can, it’s worthwhile to try and get some money back for things we’ve collected over the years that we don’t use anymore and need to throw out.
For example, We have a television in our bedroom that’s hardly used and it’s time to start trying to sell it to save some space. I know that we’ll be getting nowhere near the value we originally paid for it because TV sets decrease so rapidly but it’s a decent smart television that’s served us well and we could happily sell it on for £50 or less to someone who needs one instead. I’m a member of a couple of local buy and sell Facebook groups and we occasionally look through our local Gumtree classifieds as well as they’re both great places to sell second hand goods so I’m sure it will go in a few weeks once listed. Why throw or recycle when we could get a little back?
Budget Your Weekly Expenses
I’ve stuck to one primary rule since moving out to university, budget your weekly expenses as if your life depended on it. Each time I get paid I budget out what I need to pay for our rent and other bills, my own personal bills (like my mobile phone contract) and then anything I owe anyone like the odd tenner I’ve borrowed off of my Mum when I wasn’t near a cashpoint etc. I then have a small amount per week that I call my personal spendies that goes towards things like lunch and snacks from the cafeteria at work or even travel to places if we want to go out somewhere.
Whatever’s left over from my pay check is what I have as additional to spend on myself and others. Sometimes this goes on seasonal spends like Christmas and birthdays and then other times it gets saved or stashed for emergency payments. I always pay attention to everything I’m spending per week and try and keep it within my budget. I often work out a weekly recipe plan for dinners before we do our food shop online so I know that the cost is around £45 per week and we hardly ever go over, or even under that amount.
It can be difficult to plan these sorts of things to begin with but it’s a very good way to spend well and guilt free.
Save The Small Change
Finally, on the topic of savings – a technique that my husband and I both follow is to save our small change where possible. We have a piggy bank in our hallway and every once in a while I clear out my purse and chuck in any spare pennies I’ve accumulated. Likewise, Rick will empty his pockets whenever he arrives home and within a few weeks our china piggy is fat with pound coins and copper shrapnel. We often hold onto this for emergency bus fare but occasionally we save it up and take it to the bank or a coin machine at the supermarket and exchange it for notes.
Saving a little adds up bit by bit and occasionally one of us will slip a £5 note in so it can be quite exciting cracking the pot open and seeing how much have inside. We’ve gone out for dinner and had trips to the cinema with this loose change saving method or even ordered a takeaway for some Netflix and chill at home together. This sort of saving is money you hardly notice going missing and it always comes in handy for something.
Do you follow any of these techniques for saving money yourself? How do you get on? Let me know in the comments.