Being able to develop money saving habits is more crucial than ever, with the economic recession and the jobs market of 2013 showing no signs of immediate recovery. Even with a decent income, though, most people can stand to avoid making some expensive mistakes when it comes to their daily spending, and can try to save for the future by following some basic approaches to their financial management. If you’re trying to save more money this year, it’s therefore worth considering some of the following ways to cut down on your routine spending.
Set Up New Savings Accounts
Check with your bank to see if you’re eligible for a new rate on your savings, or if you can take advantage of competitive rates and bonuses as the result of being loyal to them. It’s always worth comparing what savings rates are available with different banks, though, even if you’ve been with the same institution for a long time and don’t want the hassle of switching accounts.
Look Into ISAs
This can be an excellent way to put aside money in a way that can quickly amass decent savings. ISAs are tax free savings accounts that can allow you to put aside around five and a half thousand a year, and can be used alongside investment ISAs to create a secure way to start building savings.
Start Using Personal Finance Apps
There are many personal finance apps available that can help you to budget and save money; among these, one of the best is HomeBudget with Sync, which enables you to break down your spending to see where you might not be budgeting properly. Alerts can also be set up on your phone to alert you to payment deadlines and bill due dates.
If you haven’t tried it before, couponing can be an excellent way to get on top of your daily and weekly spending; clipping coupons and printing them off from websites can provide you with small savings on different items and services that can add up to significant discounts over time.
Cut Down on Your Credit Card Usage
You may have entered into the habit of using your credit card more than you should; if you’re using your card for everyday purchases, rather than your debit card, then you can find it harder to pay off your balance every month, which will incur fees.
Be More Careful with Your Energy Usage
Try to get into better habits around your home when it comes to your energy usage; this means switching lights off when you leave a room, and making sure that someone appliances are turned off overnight – this can include televisions, kettles, and computers.
Keep More Leftovers
Don’t use portions that are the wrong size for a single meal; if you’re making a large dish, see whether you can freeze some to eat in a few days, or even just keep a plate in the fridge to use towards lunch the next day. Dishes like spaghetti bolognese and chili con carne can work well, in this way.
Cut Your Cable or Satellite Subscription
It’s worth thinking carefully about whether you really need all the channels and the subscription packages that you have on your television. If you can, cut your subscription and get a Freeview box, or consider paying less for a monthly subscription service through the internet.
Avoid Turning Up Your Thermostat
Get out of the habit of turning your thermostat up as soon as it becomes chilly – add layers of clothing if you can to avoid spending a bit more money, and buy seasonal duvets that are the right thickness to keep you warm in cold weather.
Cancel Your Gym Membership
Adjust your exercise regime by cancelling an expensive gym membership, and instead go out for a run or a long walk, or make a one off investment in a bike to keep yourself fit.
Limit Your Takeaways and Meals Out
As satisfying as it can be to get a takeaway or go out during the week to eat, look at how much you’re spending on average during the month on food, and try to cut a few out. Choose between going out for a meal or having a takeaway just once a week.
Change Your Commute
It’s worth seeing whether you can practically cycle to work, as well as whether there are options available for carpooling, or for getting discounted travel cards and season tickets far in advance.
Learn Some DIY Skills
You don’t have to become an expert overnight in repairing your home, but you can learn some basics for fixing leaks, putting up shelves, and dealing with electrical rewiring issues and fuses before they become worse.
Reduce Your Spending on Lunches and Coffee
When out during the day, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on lunches or coffee, especially when you’re working. However, you can make savings by getting into the habit of preparing your own lunch in the morning or the night before. Investing in a thermos of coffee can also help you to avoid the temptation of buying an expensive branded coffee every day.
Claim Refunds on Late Trains
It’s possible to claim partial refunds when trains are running late (usually by more than 30 minutes) – contact the train company as soon as you can, and be firm, even if applying for a refund is a lot of hassle.
Double Check Your Tax Codes
You may be using the wrong tax code without realising it, and can consequently end up paying more tax than you should be. While HMRC tend to get around to resolving this problem in time, it’s worth double checking to see whether you might have overpaid.
Make Use of Clothing Sales
Do your research and find out when your local shops are going to be having sales, and check online for any mailing list and subscription deals. Similarly, skip the brand names and designer clothes, and look into finding deals through swap meets.
Make Sure You’re Not Missing Out on Any Benefits
Don’t be afraid to look into claiming some benefits, with Working Tax Credit being particularly useful if you need to top up your wages; similarly, don’t get caught out by not receiving Winter Fuel Allowance; check online to see whether you can realistically claim to make some savings on your daily, weekly, and monthly spend.
Cut Out Tumble Drying
Think about how much money you could spend by not having to use one more appliance around the house. While not using a tumble drier can be frustrating at first, hanging clothes on a dryer by a window with direct sunlight, and putting them outside on a warm and dry day, is much more cost effective.
Have a Clear Out
You may have a lot of unused items laying around your home that you can get rid of fairly easily; DVDs, books, and CDs may not get you much individually, but can be sold in bulk online, or taken to a local car boot sale. Alternatively, see whether you can recycle old mobile phones and computers for scrap metal, and take any old jewellery that you don’t wear anymore to pawnbrokers to get a valuation on its sale potential.
This article was contributed by extreme couponing fanatic James Patrick. He contributes to money saving sites around the globe including Outback Coupons and many more!