We’re off! The Great British Savings Challenge is underway

The information provided in this article was accurate at the time of publishing and should be read in the context of the date it was published. Views in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the view of Scottish Friendly.

Wow! Has Scottish Friendly’s Great British Savings Challenge opened the eyes of one of our participants, Nikki Watts!

Challenged to using a cash budget only of £300 for two weeks, Nikki has learned some great ways of managing her money – in some cases the hard way, but that’s all part of life’s ups and downs.

Our challenge to Nikki was just that – a challenge because it fell at half term and with three kids in tow, not spending too much would not be easy.

Nikki got off to great start with a visit to the cinema. First of all she got the cheapest seat deal she could find and instead of the usual cinema-purchased hot dogs and overpriced sweets, she brought a homemade picnic and sweets bought beforehand in the supermarket, all representing a saving of £20 than Nikki would usually experience.

The skids came off unfortunately when Nikki said she was “tricked” (by whom? The kids? The advertising?) into a visit to the safari park which amounted to a costly £70 plus £25 in food. Ouch! Nikki had ended up £15 over her original plan.

However we live and learn. If the kids had a great day out, sometimes memories like this are priceless and Nikki had at least learnt and understood and paid attention to spending and its impact for the first time in her life.

Things got better with the food shop where Nikki stuck to her £80 budget, avoiding being tempted by deals.

By the end of the first half of Savings Challenge 1, Nikki had learned a lot, but saved nothing. Never mind – onwards and upwards.

Progress was made in the second half of Challenge 1. Nikki wasn’t liking some of the discipline it took but on the whole was really relishing the process and by now was changing her spending habits by, for instance, paying attention to how much things cost: coffees, greeting cards, presents, parking.

As Nikki says: “I always knew money went nowhere. But it’s now a real joy in being able to understand where it has actually gone.”

Nikki says she’s now set to embrace the challenge with a budget of £400 a month for non-essentials and she’s going to manage this by using the cash from a pot in the kitchen to cover eating out, cinema, birthdays and even coffees.

Oh, Nikki, must you buy coffees?! Think how much you could save by making your own and having them in a vacuum mug! However that’s me being judgemental – Nikki has got off to a fantastic start simply by recognising and understanding where the money is going in the first place.

We at Scottish Friendly can’t wait to hear how she progresses and whether she’ll be able to have money left over to put aside for the future!

No advice has been provided by Scottish Friendly. If you are in any doubt as to whether a savings or investment plan is suitable for you, you should contact a financial adviser for advice. If you do not have a financial adviser, you can get details of local financial advisers by visiting www.unbiased.co.uk. Advisers may charge for providing such advice and should confirm any cost beforehand.