Money Saving 101: Ultimate guide to a thrifty new year
For anyone who's been reading (hi mum) I've been trying to provide moneysaving tips for fellow breadliners on a whole variety of things. Looking back, misty eyed, hysterically crying over the last few months, we've covered Christmas cards, parties, networking, vouchers, dates, vouchers while on dates, the time I lost my purse and immediately got a call saying it was in Wimbledon (have never been to Wimbledon) only to go and be presented with a purse I'd lost a year ago. Oh, we didn't cover that? Well I also lost a purse (I've lost three in three years) and it was found in a bin. I'm not only terrible with money, but terrible with the things money is supposed to go in.
Aside from all of this, there are some basics I've slowly started to get a handle on that I think I should share:
- If you have a smartphone, get a banking app. I have the Natwest one and it's soothed my genuine fear of checking my bank balance. I used to go months without knowing which got me into a lot of trouble- the amount you presume you've got in there is never correct. Sometimes you get a good surprise, more often than not, you get the surprise which ends in wine and crying.
- Stop buying coffee and crap sandwiches from Pret, Starbucks, Costa, Nero et al. If you buy a coffee or a sandwich every day, you're spending over a grand a year on nothing. And that's having calculated £3.50 per day. A coffee AND a sandwich? You don't want to know the amount (£2,190). Make coffee at home, buy a thermos, bring your own sandwich, always carry snacks with you. Simple and cheap and, weirdly, something I personally haven't nailed yet. Yep, I keep going to Pret. Hello New Years Resolution.
- If anyone ever says "hey, do you want to set up a standing order?" do it. Even if there is suddenly an earthquake and a large fireball is shooting down the street towards you, take cover until it passes, then RESUME THE BUSINESS OF SETTING UP A STANDING ORDER. All I'll say is: fines. Fines for late Council Tax, fines for late rent, cutting off your phone bill (and fining you), fines for your electricity, FINES. If you're like me and would forget your eyes if they were detachable then always ask if there's a possibility to set up a standing order.
- Get out a certain amount of cash each week and only spend that. I recently started doing this and it's been revolutionary. Am embarrassed I didn't think to do it before. Look at your incomings (yawn) and your outgoings (bleurgh) and decide a sensible amount of money you are able to spend each week. Take it out of the cashpoint every Monday. Only use it and, if you go over, do not take anymore out (unless it's a medical emergency, you're going to die etc) and suffer the consequences. You will learn quite quickly how to budget.
- Do a bit of essential shopping research. Tesco Extra and Sainsbury's Local thrive on the fact you're too lazy to walk very far for cheaper food. The fact is, those convenient versions of the Big Boys are so much more expensive. Find out which supermarket does the cheapest what and do it online- the delivery cost is nothing compared to amount you'll save on everyday shopping.
- Charity shops are your friend. Cardigans, scarves, quirky jewellry, shirts and bags. You might bag other stuff if you want to rummage, but make charity shops your first port of call when trying to find those five items. If you have a real problem with preworn clothes, just throw it in the washing machine and grow a pair of balls.
- Learn to cook. OK this is my big one. Everyone's been telling me it's cheaper, and I KNOW it's cheaper, but when I'm on my way home I just want to put something in the microwave for four minutes and eat it. Or just nip into the nearest cafe and buy a panini. Or a McDonalds, depending on how late it is/ how much wine I've had that day. Apart from the fact it's so much healthier, it's also a lot more satisfying to go home and whip something up. Even baked beans on toast. Or a jacket potato and cheese. Or have a look at these
- Going out? There'll probably be a voucher/deal/offer. Or, tailor your night out to the voucher/deal/offer you already have/know about.Dinner out? Obviously Pizza Express it. Or try any other place that constantly does vouchers. Cocktails? Check for 2-4-1 and happy hours. Clubbing? Get in when it's free entry. Yes, you'll be early, but at least you don't have to pay £15. A bar is only as good as the people you're with, so who cares if it's a Slug and Lettuce? Hey, their house red is pretty decent.
Oh, and I hope you have a lovely new year filled with kittens, merriment, joy and that feeling when you find a tenner in a pair of jeans you haven't worn in ages. And more kittens, if you like kittens.