Funding your dream wedding, paying for a ticket to travel the world or saving up a deposit for a place of your own, whatever you want to save for, taking a planned approach could help you get their quicker and give you a whole lot of satisfaction to boot. If you’re the type who usually spends every last penny of their pay cheque, here’s what you need to know to start saving fast.
Analyse your budget
First things first, you can’t curb your spending if you don’t know where your money is going. You’ll find lots of helpful tools online to help you assess where you’re spending your money and therefore how you could potentially create savings. Many banks also include money monitoring of their online accounts, so it’s easy to get an overview of where you are doing well and what your problem areas are. The Money Advice Service budget planner allows you to enter your outgoings, so you can play around with different budgets to set realistic limits for luxuries such as entertainment and going out. Cutting these out completely is likely to leave you feeling deprived and more likely to head off plan, whereas setting a realistic cap for treats and sticking to it will help you reach your goal that bit more comfortably.
Squeeze your utility costs
It’s not always easy to do much about the cost of rent or your mortgage, but simple switches like changing your gas and electricity suppliers could prove a smart move. Make sure you do your bit by being mindful of the energy you use. It’s time to get vigilant about switching lights off and putting on a sweater rather than turning on the heating. Don’t forget to explore weather you’re getting the best out of other monthly costs such as broadband and mobile phone tariffs too. Has your introductory internet deal ended? If your mobile phone is fully paid off, could you forgo an upgrade so that you can pay a lower monthly bill?
Meal Plan and Pack Lunch
Convenience costs money. A daily takeaway coffee can add £15 on to your weekly spend with some of us reportedly spending over £2,000 annually out of the home. Grabbing breakfast on the go has also become a big money spinner for the likes of supermarkets, bakeries and cafes. That’s all before you consider the cost of lunch and your evening meal.
To slim down the size of your food spend, start planning:-
- Menu plan your evening meals. Ensure some ingredients can be used for several means and batch cook meals for the freezer you can reach for when you’re too tired to cook.
- Invest in a travel mug so that you can take coffee with you when you head out the door.
- Scrap the costly lunches out. Even cheap meal deals cost more than homemade lunches. Eat leftovers from the night before or make your own sandwiches, soups and salad bowls.
- If you can’t make time for breakfast, pack that too, your bank account will reap the benefits.
Use Cleverer Credit
Saving money can often prove a false economy if you have a lot of debt to pay off. Unless your borrowing is interest free you’re likely to pay more out in interest than you earn on your savings. However, if you’re saving towards a specific goal that can’t be put off, your best bet is to balance that against paying down your debt. Take a close look at what you’re paying in interest on your credit card balance and see if a balance transfer could help you to pay it off quicker and more cheaply. If you’re debt free, using a comparison checker like Choose to compare what credit card options are available to you could still be a clever move. Some cards come with perks such as cashback or air miles. If you have a lot of spending to do in preparation for something like a wedding or a move, you could earn as you spend. Providing you clear the balance in full, don’t spend more than you otherwise would and pay close attention to meeting any restrictions laid out by the lender you could give your funds a little boost or bag some air miles towards your honeymoon without any real hard work.
Boost your income
Working a few evenings a week at a local pub or taking on a weekend job at a café or clothes shop could top up your savings pot with a secondary regular income. You may have to pay a higher level of tax on your second income and clear your new role with your primary employer so make sure you do your sums and fact check first. The Money Advice Service has some great tips. Select your second job wisely and it could give your long term plans a boost too. The 15% staff discount Ikea employees receive could certainly prove useful if you’re planning to furnish a property soon. If you can’t commit to a second job, you could still earn some extra pennies doing things like paid online surveys from the comfort of your sofa or spending your Saturday nights babysitting. After all, you won’t want to be out all of the time frittering away your savings stash.
Celebrating your savings achievements can really help fuel your enthusiasm for saving and drive your success. A simple wall chart could be all you need to track how much you’ve saved towards your goal. If you’d like to use something a little fancier and more interactive, look at smartphone apps like Mint (Android / iPhone) and Money Box (Android / iPhone)