Saving & Budgeting
Knowing the difference between your income and outgoings may seem simple enough, but it’s really the best place to start – even overestimating by a few pounds could blow your budget out of whack.
Let’s take a look at the different things you can do to help organise your finances…
1. Set a goal
Think about what it is that you’d like to financially achieve this year – you’re more likely to reach it if you define it.
2. Claim the benefits you’re entitled to
There may be benefits, grants or other financial support available to you – click here to see if you’re eligible for financial support.
3. Always pay your priority bills each month
It’s important that you pay off your priority bills in full each month, as they can be quite difficult to reduce and may have further consequences if you miss a payment.
4. Make a budget (and stick to it)
It might seem daunting, but it’s actually a lot easier and quicker than you may think. Creating a budget helps to create an overview of where your money is going each month, and allows you to spot areas that savings could be made.
Get started with a budget today by visiting Advice Online. Tell us about your income, outgoings, and any debts you may have, and we’ll break it all down into a clear budget. We’ll also show you all the available solutions based on your circumstances, and give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about your finances.
Now that we’ve organised our finances a bit better, let’s work on implementing some saving techniques to help our money stretch that little bit further…
Money saving tips
Saving money is hard. Saving money coming out of a pandemic is even harder. So what can you do to free up some extra cash at the end of the month?
Cancel any unused subscriptions
If you are still paying for a service you don’t really use, cancel it! Many subscription services work on a monthly rolling basis, meaning you can cancel it at any time (although it’s always best to check the T&Cs first…). You may be surprised at just how much money you save…
There are multiple websites to help you do this, quickly and efficiently. Websites like this one track and compare prices at thousands of shops, which can mean finding the cheapest deal in only a couple of clicks…
Supermarkets are well-oiled machines when it comes to earning your money, and we obey almost subconsciously at times. To avoid spending more than you planned during your weekly shop, look out for:
Carefully placed magazines and treats are a last-ditch attempt to take a few extra pounds.
Profit in plain view
Eye-level products are placed there for the supermarket’s benefit, not yours. Looking high and low will lead you to lower-priced alternatives.
Shop the whole store
It’s no coincidence that a pit stop for milk will take you past the hot counter, bakery and food-on-the-go sections. Supermarkets carefully plan routes, so if you’re just nipping in for a top-up shop, be wary of the route you’re taking.
Buy one get one free or three-for-two offers are tough to pass on, but may still outprice the more basic alternative. If the product is perishable, are you simply buying unneeded extras?
Household energy bills are the second highest cost in a household after rent/mortgage, so it pays to keep those costs down (literally).
Install a more efficient boiler
If your boiler is due an upgrade, a new A-rated condensing boiler or heat pump will save money on your fuel costs, especially in winter.
Turn off lights
It only takes a split second to switch the light off, but it’ll save you money over time. Consider switching to LED, CFL or halogen incandescent light bulbs – they last longer and use up to 80% less electricity than other bulbs.
Unplug idle electronics
Devices like televisions, microwaves, scanners, and printers use standby power, even when off.
Wash clothes at a lower temperature
Reducing the temperature when washing clothes can cut down on the amount of the energy used.
Use it or lose it
Only making one cup of tea? Try filling the kettle with just the right amount of water you need. Boiling more than that lets energy go to waste.
Cut down on your running costs
If you’re in the market for a new appliance, always check its energy efficiency rating. Although energy efficient models may have a higher upfront cost, they’re usually up to 25% cheaper to run than other types.
Sticking to your budget.
So, we’ve learned about how to create a budget and how to make sure we’re not wasting money where it can be saved, but how can we make sure that the budget we made is staying on track?
We’ve researched different ways that real people creatively motivate themselves to stick to their budgets – they might work for you, too!
1. Save spare change
This premise is quite simple, and it works well if you often use cash. Every time you make a purchase, set the ‘left over’ money aside. Saving your spare change may not sound like much, but it can certainly add up over time!
2. No dining out
How much do you spend on dining out or ordering in each month? Do you take your lunch to work or get a takeaway every Friday? All these purchases add up and you’d be surprised to see how much you spend on dining out/in in just 30 days. Commit to eating at home for a month and see how much you can save. Plan your meals carefully, get creative with snacks, and prep everything in advance for ease.
3. The 30 Day Rule
Many of us make unplanned, impulse purchases, mostly because of how we feel in the moment. Considering how stressful and confusing the COVID-19 pandemic has been, it’s easy to get your budget off track and find you’re spending more than you can afford without even realising.
If this sounds like you, you may want to consider the 30 Day Rule. Here’s how it works:
Instead of making an unplanned impulse purchase, you leave that potential purchase for 30 days. If you still want to buy that item after the 30 day period is up, you can.
If you find yourself thinking about spending money based on your emotions rather than what’s in your budget, this can turn into an impulse purchase, which can easily throw you off your financial goals.
We know that times can get tough, and we’re here to support you.
If you’re struggling to manage your finances, get in touch with our team on 0161 837 4000, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re not quite ready to speak to someone just yet, head to Advice Online, our fully digital financial advice service that lets you find out which solutions you’re eligible for.
Together, we can live better.