Thursday 10 August 2017

3 ways to save money without really trying

Like most people, I like to save money wherever I can and I love reading about people's hints and tricks when it comes to pinching the pennies. Whether you're a coupon queen or love to compare the market, there's lots of ways to save some cash here and there if you're willing to look around and plan out your budget.

I'm all about budgeting, at least in theory (!), and have a spreadsheet set up detailing all our incomings and outgoings month-by-month, so I know where we stand, what we can save - and what we can play with. It’s always worth speaking to customer services (try using the ESA contact number)to check your bill status and if you can get a better deal.

Here are the top three ways in which I try to save money for the fun, or necessary, things in life, without really thinking about it...

1. Find a penny, pick it up

Who else spots some spare change on the floor and can't resist picking it up? It may sound crazy but every coin you find, or those coppers jangling around in your purse, really do add up if you put them to one side.

We've started to do this with Ethan as an early introduction to money and how things have value, and of course, the importance of saving. Every so often, I will empty my purse of spare coins and some may go into a charity box while we are out shopping, and others will be put into his money tin. When the tin is full, he can take it to the money exchange machine at our local supermarket and use it to put towards something he has wanted for a while.

I think most of us have a spare change tub, drawer or perhaps even the back of the sofa - but by making a conscious effort to collect together loose coins over say the course of a year, you will be surprised how much you can accumulate.

Why not make a deal with yourself that for every time you are given a £2 coin, you'll put this into your piggy bank? You will hardly notice it missing but it won't take that long before you have a good amount squirrelled away.

2. Mini transfers every month

This is a habit I've inherited from my Mum. Each month, set aside some money to go into a savings pot. You can set up a standing order so this happens automatically when you get paid, so you don't really see or miss the money. You could even have a couple of different accounts for different things.

For instance, if you are saving up for a holiday and want to put something away from a rainy day, you could decide what you would like to transfer immediately to each pot and then do this on a regular basis. My mum does this automatically, with a £5 here each week or £20 there every month and she swears that this helps her to save without really thinking about it. You can almost surprise yourself as after a while, you'll forget you're doing it - and then will discover a nice healthy amount waiting for you when you need it.

3. Switch to save

Now, if Martin Roberts the Money Saving Expert says it, it must be true! Put everything from your car insurance renewal to your gas and electric annual dates in your diary each year, and be sure to check you're still getting the best deal.

There's plenty of sites out there that will take the stress out of things and just calling up your current providers can sometimes unlock some savings - or force them to make you a better deal.

Of course, everything doesn't always go to plan and I do usually indulge in a little splurge of some kind most months; be it a new Cath Kidston dress or a super shopping trolley dash around the supermarket without a care for keeping to a set budget. And then there's the unexpected - like when I get a puncture when three hours drive away from home and no cash to hand - and you need a quick cash injection to help tide you over. When this happens - you need money now and know you can afford the terms - you can go to a reputable short-term or payday loans lender such as Cash Lady and I'd suggest that their blog is another great source of financial support and suggestions that could help you handle your money a little better.

The key for me when it comes to managing money and my own expectations is to know what's coming so I know where I will stand. Bigger bills, such as having a car service or MOT, come around and it's far better to save £15 a month for this than pay the whole lot in one go.

Every little thing does add up - skipping the morning Starbucks and saving the money instead, using loyalty and points cards to reduce your shopping bill, buying stamps to spread to cost of your Christmas food shop - so whatever works for you, make sure you stick to it and saving won't really be too difficult at all.


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