Thursday, 29 March 2012

My Top 10 Money Saving Tips

In these hard times of austerity (or if you're reading this in the future, in all likelihood it's January) it is very easy to lust after a vast quantity of things one cannot afford. Odds are you probably don't need anything - but sales are designed to tempt us. Here's how to stay on track and survive until pay day.

1. If you need to save, write it down
Sounds silly, but it helps me a lot. If I've had a bit of a spend up and start to worry about food and bills for the rest of the month, I write down how many days until my next pay day. This allows me to budget accurately and make cuts where necessary.

2. Replace spending by rewarding yourself with something free
For instance, if you have 33 days until pay day *sob sob* then give yourself a free treat every day. This could be a bath, a DIY manicure or maybe a good self indulgent Disney film. Get creative - as long as you're using what you already have, you're already ahead.

3. Adhere to the 3 point rule
If you're about to buy something, stop. Think of the 3 point rule. If I'm trying to be good, I have a mental pro's and con's list before buying. If I can think of 3 good reasons not to buy, I won't buy it.


Me: I really want these shoes!
Reasonable thinking: Yes, they're lovely, but you can't afford them. (Reason No. 1)

Me: But they're classic! They're black and black always comes in handy...
Reasonable thinking: You have more than one pair of black shoes at home. (Reason No. 2)

Me: But I want them for that night out!
Reasonable thinking: Or you could put some of the money you saved by NOT buying the shoes towards that night out, which you were worried about affording anyway. (Reasons No. 3. Game over.)

4. Sell
If you don't already have an eBay account, I strongly recommend getting one. Sell all your old clothes, books, accessories - even offer to sell old DVD's, CD's and clothes belonging to family and friends. You'll be pleasantly surprised by how much you make. List on Sundays (it's when people tend to look) and start at 99p, unless it's worth a lot, in which case put a reserve on it. Take time over photos to make your item stand out, and bear in mind that posting and packaging can be expensive, so make sure you list all details accurately and honestly. Dealing with returns, or paying extra for postage, are not the aim of the game.

5. Swap shop
Bored of a book? Swap it with a friend, or donate it to a charity shop. Hold a clothes swapping party with friends (including bags, jewelry and shoes), regardless of your differing clothes sizes - you'll be surprised how little difference there can be depending on the item of clothing. Even if you walk away with a new pair of shoes and a bag, it'll be worth it. These are always fun to host, and walking away with a new wardrobe for free is always a great feeling. Make sure you get rid of all the pieces nobody picked by donating them to charity!

6. Do your homework
Even before I started this blog, I checked the price of everything online. My Mum (pre and post internet) has always shopped around for the best bargain, and it has definitely rubbed off on me... to the extent whereby I actually find it very difficult to pay full price for anything. Look up voucher codes for online purchases, use for your food shop and check eBay and ShopStyle for bargains.

7. Don't be a snob
You're saving right? Ok, so stop walking past the budget shops and get your butt inside! Poundland and the 99p shop both stock a huge amount of famous brands, and can save you a huge amount on your usual shop. I'm consistently surprised to find household names every time I go in - that means anything from your favourite biscuits to Mr Muscle. Seriously, check it out.

8. Use your time wisely
Obviously this depends entirely on where you live, your living situation and your work/university hours. If you work full time, the prospect of further work may not be altogether appealing, but there are lots of ways to make money on the side. Freelancing, tutoring, dog walking and babysitting are all good money spinners if you have a few free hours in the week. Just make sure you don't over-commit or burn yourself out!

9. The social dilemma
So what if you have a birthday to buy for/night out/dinner to attend? You have to miss it, right? Wrong.

First off, birthdays. Cards are cheap to buy (you rarely need to spend over £1-2 unless you're a card snob) or make, and birthday presents can be fun to do on a budget. Again look to Amazon and eBay for bargains (although don't buy second hand, that's a bit too far). If you give yourself £20 for a gift, think of the best ways you can use it. For a girl friend, I would think quality over quantity (i.e. that Essie polish she's been going on about and some beautiful stationary rather than some sale jewellery she'll never wear).

If you're buying anything online, always go on to It's my ultimate weapon. For instance, if I was buying girly classic 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' on DVD, I might think £4.87 from Amazon with free delivery was great - but a quick check on google shop tells me Tesco have it for £3 with free delivery. No brainer.

Ok, now we have the night out. This is tricky, and depends entirely on whether or not you're a drinker. If you are seriously limited (and I mean under £20 limited), then you may just have to stick to one or two and the bus home. Ultimately, if your attendance is mandatory, stick to a few drinks, a recycled outfit (something you've worn before, or a swap with a friend!) and just enough for sharing a taxi home. Sorry, but you are saving, no one said it was easy...!

Finally, the dinner.If you’re going out for a meal, do your research online for vouchers or look at voucher apps for your phone. Some of the deals are unmissable, and popular with many famous favourites including Bella Italia, Nando’s, Wagamama’s, Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Coal Bar & Grill, Zizzi, Prezzo, Café Rouge, Frankie & Benny’s and Yo! Sushi, just to name a few. If you’re not picky, eat slightly earlier - many restaurants have special 2 for 1 and early bird offers, which sometimes include drink/dessert offers or a set menu price.

If your friend has picked somewhere expensive, be honest and let her know that you can't actually afford it this month. If she's a good friend, she won't mind and may change the venue (and other guests will secretly thank you for piping up).

10. Use cash
It’s very easy to fall in to the plastic routine, because it doesn’t really feel like you’re spending money at all. Take out what you need from the week, and if need be, have your family or other half confiscate your card. If you don’t need to be quite that drastic, stick to the cash only rule of buying – you’ll be surprised by how reluctantly you want to part from your nice crisp pound notes.

Finally, if you do have a blow out and have to save for the rest of the month, don’t beat yourself up! We all need a treat now and then, so just enjoy what you spent your money on and be happy in your new frugal ways. Who knows, they may be lessons for life.


1 comment

  1. You mentioned some really great tips! I'm pretty much a sucker for a new pair of shoes, no matter how much money I've got in my bank account, especially if they're Clarks!!! ������


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