I love having money. I love the feeling of security and independence is gives me, to look at my bank balance and know that I’m financially prepared for whatever life throws at me. I’m not the most organised or financially savvy person – I don’t have a budget and barely understand how my taxes are calculated – and yet most months I manage to put at least a small amount of my salary into my savings account, without giving up my travel addiction. Here are a few of the simple little things we can all do to make sure we keep building that savings fund.
Put money aside straight after payday
If there’s money in your current account the temptation is always going to be there to spend it, even when you know you’re supposed to be saving. As soon as payday rolls around I look at my balance, calculate the minimum amount I think I’m going to need to get through the month, and move the rest into my savings account. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself – if it turns out you’ve been overambitious you can always move a bit back. It’s a little psychological trick that works so well for me; while I’m usually happy to spend the money in my current account I hate having to dip into my savings, and will only do it if I’m at risk of not being able to pay my rent.
Order bulk food shops online
I work full-time and live in city centre where there are hardly any proper supermarkets; it would be so easy to pop into a Sainsburys Local every other evening and pick up whatever took my fancy but I’d soon run out of money. Instead I do big shops online every 6 weeks or so, taking advantage of special offers and buying in bulk to keep costs to a minimum. I also roughly plan my meals in my head as I shop, so I can cook all my meals at home and prepare lunches to take to work instead of buying lunch every day. Everything that can be frozen goes in the freezer, so that in between shops I only have to refill fresh produce and milk.
Leave items in your basket
I know so many people who struggle with compulsive online shopping – it’s the easiest way to throw away money without really feeling like you’re spending, and thanks to smartphones you can now do it pretty much anywhere, anytime. Luckily I’m a natural second-guesser of almost everything, and this extends to changing my mind at least five times before buying anything online. If you struggle with compulsive buying, leave the item in your basket for at least 12 hours and ask yourself two simple questions: Do I need it, or just want it? If I don’t buy it, will I regret it a month from now? Your answers will tell you what to do.
Borrow instead of buying
One of my cheeky vices is books; my to-be-read pile is always growing and there are so many used copy bargains on Amazon that it’s easy for me to go on buying binges. It’s ok to spend if it’s feeding my brain, right? Last year a few friends and I held a book swap, and we all brought so many amazing books it became clear that we could easily keep each other busy reading for months. I hope we’re going to do more swaps this year, and if you have a material obsession you should do the same; update your wardrobe with a clothes swap, or binge a new favourite series by exchanging some box sets.
Do more free stuff
This might sound really obvious, but in reality how often do we fill our spare time with things that cost money like eating out, going to the cinema or drinking at the pub? Instead, fill your social life with new activities that won’t cost you more than the price of a bus ticket or a bit of petrol. Go for a walk in the countryside, find free museums or art galleries in your area, or take yourself on a walking tour of a nearby town or city. Check out free gigs in local bars, host a dinner with your friends, and get on Eventbrite to find all sorts of free events near you.
Those are my money saving tactics – do you have any of your own? How do you stop yourself from spending unnecessarily?