Living on a budget – 28 ways to save money
We all have our own goals when it comes to finances – whether you're saving for a holiday, looking to cut back on your spending or have serious millionaire ambitions, there are steps you can take to save pennies (and pounds). Because planning a budget and coming up with ways to eat well for less and save money can be stressful, we've come up with 27 ways to be more thrifty that you can try today!
#1. Stay on top of your bank balance
Savvy spenders always know what's going on in their account. If you regularly go overdrawn or don't spot transactions you don't recognise until six months down the line, you need to make some changes. Get in the habit of checking your current balance daily – internet banking can be helpful here. You'll soon spot areas where you spend more and could cut back.
#2. Limit withdrawals
Ever find yourself at the cash machine 7 days a week? This is a bad habit – instead, set yourself a weekly or fortnightly budget – withdraw a wad of cash and stick to spending that. Shop weekly for essentials and every few days for fresh fruit and vegetables.
#3. Pay with cash
Get out of the bad habit of paying on your cards – it can be easier to overspend. Withdraw cash for the week and you should struggle less to stick to a budget, plus handing over coins and notes feels more 'real', so you'll see what you're spending.
#4. Give yourself some TLC
Do you spend a fortune on cold and flu remedies or prescription medication? Protect your immune system from the inside out. Eating a balanced diet with antioxidant-rich foods and immune boosters like onions, garlic and ginger can help; as can getting a good night's sleep.
#5. Stay active
If shopping online or in store has become a weekend ritual, break your bad habits by taking up a new hobby instead. Rock climbing, kick boxing or bootcamp at your local park with friends are all great ways to keep active. All that activity gets endorphins flowing and gives you a natural mood boost that will last far longer than the boost you get from retail therapy!
#6. Ditch those bad habits
Smoking 20-a-day or drinking a bottle of wine with dinner ever evening isn't just bad for your health and your mood – alcohol is a depressant – it can waste a ton of money too. Smoking 20 cigarettes a day costs around £183 a month or over £2,000 a year!
#7. Go home-made
Forget expensive shampoo, conditioners and shaving creams – these are not only costly, they're often packed with parabens, synthetic fragrances and other nasty chemicals. Make your own shave cream with coconut oil, shea butter and olive oil, or buy a shampoo base from health food shops and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil; rosemary boosts shine and is said to help concentration too.
#8. Cut your bathroom routine
A long, hot shower not only uses loads of energy, it uses lots of water too. Try turning down your thermostat just a few degrees and enjoying a cooler, shorter shower.
#9. Get fit for free
Free gym trials and classes can help you save. Most classes will let you come along for a free session and many gyms offer free trial membership for a day or two.
#10. A little of what you fancy
It's true a little of what you fancy does you good. Just because you're on a budget, doesn't mean you should deprive yourself. Regularly treating yourself to small things such as a new top or a lipstick means you're less likely to go on a huge spending spree come payday. Plus, looking good helps you feel good.
#11. Get energy efficient
You've seen those ratings on fridges, washing machines and other appliances, but do you actually know what they mean? Choosing a more energy-efficient appliances may cost a bit more upfront, but the money it saves you in energy bills will be well worth it.
#12. Turn it off
There's a reason your mum was always telling you to switch off the lights when you left a room. Turning off hallway lights or lights when you leave a room can save money – these little savings all add up. Avoid leaving appliances on standby too, as this can add pounds to your bills.
#13. Cosy up
#14. Boost your insulation
If you can afford to, investing in better insulation for your home can save money in the long run on energy bills; it will also make your property more energy-efficient, which could boost its sale price when you come to move. Failing that, use a 'draft snake' or thick towels to plug drafty doors and windows and retain heat. Get thick, lined curtains and close them at night to help keep the heat in.
#15. Swap your bulbs
Did you know that energy-efficient light bulbs could help you save around £10 a year on your energy bill?They use less power – so a 13 to 18 watt bulb can do the work of a 60 watt standard bulb. LED bulbs use even less energy!
No, not the kind of DIY that involves power tools, although more about that later. There are a whole range of things you can make yourself to save money – why not start with accessories for your home such as cushion covers or candles, or make your own greetings cards, which can often cost up to £5 to buy in the shops.
#17. Crafty gifts
You can use your new-found craft skills to save money on presents too. Whip up home-made face scrubs, bath salts or home accessories – even make up bags. Or bake tasty treats such as our sweet potato brownies or vegan blueberry muffins for the perfect gifts.
#18. Borrow, don't buy
Instead of always buying the latest releases on your Kindle or at the book store, join your local library, where you can borrow books, DVDs, newspapers and magazines. Or sign up for a scheme such as Kindle Unlimited, where you pay a monthly subscription to download books. This could save you money compared to buying several books a month. Reading can help you to unwind and get a better night's sleep.
#19. Share with friends
Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and other streaming sites are great for home entertainment, but if you split the monthly fee with a friend, it will cost you even less!
#20. Manage your direct debits
Did you know that up to 30% of people have direct debits they no longer need? That's money being debited from your account every month for a service you no longer use – like an old gym membership or insurance you never got around to cancelling. Cancelling these takes minutes if you have internet banking, and a quick call to your bank if you don't, and could save you money which can be better spent on healthy food or a gym membership.
#21. Swap shop
Instead of spending all your hard-earned cash from your job on new clothes, hold a swap party with friends and family and swap your boring top for a new skirt or a great pair of jeans. This gives you an instant mood boost and something new to wear; it's also the ideal excuse to catch up with friends.
#22. Ditch your dryer
Tumble dryers use quite a bit of energy and can be expensive to run, not to mention bad for the environment. They can also damage clothes, shortening their lifespan. Invest in clothes airers or an outside line, if you're lucky enough to have a garden. Fresher, longer-lasting clothes and reduced energy bills, what's not to love?
#23. Cool wash
Washing clothes on a cool cycle saves you money. But did you know you could save as much as 30p a load? That soon adds up over the year.
#24. Own-brand goods
Are you addicted to Heinz beans or a fan of Hellman's Light mayonnaise? Buying a generic or supermarket own-brand can really save money, especially when it comes to basics such as toilet roll, household cleaners and pet food.
#25. Get rewarded
Make sure you have reward cards for all your favourite stores such as supermarkets and pharmacies. The points soon stack up, so you can enjoy money off your food shop or occasional freebies such as a new organic cleanser or bright lipstick.
#26. Never shop hungry
Snacking between meals helps to boost your energy levels, keeping you feeling satisfied. Heading to the supermarket on an empty stomach is fatal; you'll end up with a trolley filled with biscuits, crisps and processed food! Eat a protein-packed snack before you head off, such as a hard boiled egg, some tuna with crackers or a handful of nuts to sustain you.
#27. Avoid impulse buys
This applies to clothes, electronics, groceries, in fact anything. Just because something is on '3 for 2' or another special offer, think about whether you really need it. Essentials such as toothpaste, toilet roll or tinned food can be worth buying in bulk, but stocking up on too much fresh food could backfire as it may reach its expiry date before it can be used.
Power tools at the ready; doing odd jobs yourself around the home can save you a fortune! Learn to fix your leaky tap, put up shelves and repair broken tiles. Not only will you save money on repair costs, you'll be learning a new, useful skill too.