If you look at your monthly bank statement in horror and gasp “How have I spent THAT much?” then these tips are for you. Cutting down on your spending needn’t be tough — and you’ll soon be laughing all the way to the bank…
1. Stay supermarket savvy
Before you start wrestling with that wonky trolley in your local superstore, always make a list. That way, you only put what you need in, rather than impulse buying.
Wandering down the aisles, grabbing whatever catches your eye, is a sure-fire way to checkout chagrin.
Also, instead of pricey brand names, try supermarket own brands. They’re a lot cheaper and, unless you’re a gourmet gannet, you won’t notice the difference.
Own-brand household goods like kitchen towel and tin foil are up to 20 per cent cheaper, while supermarket bleach and bathroom cleaner wipe the floor with their posh counterparts when it comes to price.
While you’re at it, tell the BOGOFs to, er, bog off. Don’t be lured by buy-one-get-one-free or 2-for-1 deals plastered everywhere. Often they’re not as brilliant as they might seem and will only save you a couple of pence.
Plus, do you usually buy that product? Will you definitely use it? Was it on your list? If the answer is ‘no’ then step away from the shelf; you don’t need it.
One thing you do need is to sign up for reward schemes like Nectar and Clubcard.
It might seem like you’re only saving a penny here or there, but the long-term benefits are worth it. At the end of the year — when you need it most — the points you’ve collected during the previous 12 months can often pay for a whole bumper shop.
Oh, and never – NEVER – go shopping when you’re hungry. You’re likely to buy extra things you wouldn’t normally get and bump up your bill. Why do think there’s all that chocolate by the checkout? To satisfy the rumble in your tummy, that’s why!
2. Quit costly clicking
We’ve all done it – surfed the net at lunch or late at night, aimlessly dropping virtual bargains in our virtual basket and hitting the virtual checkout button. However, the resulting damage to your bank balance is all too real. Why do you think online retailers keep your credit card details on file? So you can just press ‘Buy’ and they’ve got your cash. Again.
It is too easy to buy online — and the more you look, the more you think you need.
But such impulsive one-click ordering is lethal for your loot and all you end up with is loads of stuff you wouldn’t otherwise have bought. If you’re tempted, be strict, put the mouse down and ask yourself: “Do I really need this?” The answer is most probably: “No”.
3. Bash that budget
Write down your monthly expenditure and work out exactly how much you’re paying and to whom. It’s almost certain that you’re spending more than you need to without even knowing it — so go through it carefully, looking for areas where you could cut costs.
Most insurance firms renew your cover automatically without reducing your premiums. In fact, some bump them up and you might not even notice. These guys are banking on you being lazy and just continuing to pay — so instead, shop around on sites like comparethemarket.com or moneysavingexpert.com and find out what the alternatives are.
Do the same with everything — mortgage, phone, broadband, gym, TV package, bank charges…you’ll be amazed what you can save. For example, checking out energyhelpline.com and switching energy supplier could leave you £300 a year better off.
4. Cash is king
Pay in cash rather than sticking everything on a card to worry about later — that way, money seems more ‘real’. By doing this, you can actually get a sense of what you’re spending, rather than just waiting for a shock when you see your next statement. But don’t make repeated trips to the cashpoint every day, frittering away your hard-earned lolly bit by bit. Instead, make one withdrawal at the start of the week, then put your cards away and set yourself a cash budget — and stick to it.
5. Keep note of your notes
Every time you pay for something – no matter how small — make a note on your phone or in your diary. That way, it’s possible to keep a running day-to-day tally of what you’re spending during the month.
So every time you park your car, buy a coffee or snap up a “bargain” in the sale, it’s there in black and white — and you can see if you’re heading towards the red.