Our pal Ricky Willis A.K.A. Skint Dad knows all about the woes...
7 easy ways to save money
There are loads of articles on the web dedicated to helping you save money. LOADS. We’ve got a fair few on this blog alone. While saving money is great, many tips need you to spend money before you start saving. What happens if you don’t have much to spare to start with?
We recently discovered that almost a third of Brits saved nothing in the last 12 months – because they had no spare money to actually save.
So I’m on the hunt for techniques that make saving money easier. The methods I’ve found can be adjusted to suit different budgets, so if you’re able to save more you can but if you can’t that’s OK too – after all, even saving small amounts adds up.
1. Skint Dad’s 1p saving challenge
You may have heard about the £1 a week saving challenge. The idea is over 52 weeks of the year, you increase the amount you save each week by £1. So in week one you save £1, week two you save £2 etc.
This is probably a great way to save but the later you get in the year the more you have to save, meaning it’s not always suitable for all budgets.
Skint Dad came up with an alternative: the 1p Saving Challenge. Instead of £1 a week, he saves 1p a day, increasing it as the days go on. So you’d save:
Day 1 = 0.01p
Day 2 = 0.02p
Day 3 = 0.03p
If you stick to the plan for a full year you should end up with £667.95. And the most you’ll have to save is £3.65. Of course, the days when you’re saving the most will be in the run up to Christmas. If this isn’t ideal for you, you could always chop and change the amounts throughout the year.
2. Revive the piggy bank
A classic money-saving technique! You probably had a piggy bank when you were a child, so why not as an adult?
It doesn’t have to be a proper piggy bank. Instead of buying one you could use a jar. If you’re worried you’ll be tempted to dip into your coffers, try one of those tins you have to open with a can opener. You can get them super-cheap in most pound shops, and the extra faffing about to take the money out might make it worth every penny!
Decide what type of coins you want to collect: anything below 10p? Anything below £1? Or maybe all coins in general? Pop your loose change into the piggy bank whenever you have it (and don’t need it) and see how much you save.
3. Round down your bank account
Rounding down your bank account balance is an easy way to save money here and there. Each time you log into your account (daily, weekly, whatever you want) round the money down and transfer the difference to a savings account.
If you have £96.78 in your account, you’d transfer £1.78, leaving you with £95, or you could transfer £6.78 leaving you with £90.00.
I’ve been doing this daily for two weeks now. Although there isn’t always money to round down, an added bonus is that I’m keeping a watchful eye on my bank account. It’s also oddly soothing to see the balance as a round number.
4. Switch to cash only
If sticking to a budget is something you struggle with, you may find it easier to start using cash for everything except bills.
Not only will this help you keep track of how much cash you have, it’ll also make you aware of how much those little card purchases you make can add up. Physically handing over cash when you pay makes you feel the cost a lot more than waving your debit card over the contactless sensor at the checkout.
I tend to spend money on snacks for work during the week. And while I’m at it, I’ll pick up other stuff in the supermarket that I don’t need. So now I budget a certain amount each week that I can spend, take it out in cash and once it’s gone it’s gone.
5. Use cashback sites
Did you know that you can be paid money just for using websites you were going to use anyway? Cashback sites and apps are a great way to save money on things you’re already buying.
Whenever you buy something online, go to the cashback site first. Have a quick search for the retail site you need, click the link and make the purchase on the site. Going via the cashback site allows them to track your visit to the retail site.
Once your purchase is complete, you’ll automatically get cashback based on a percentage of the amount you spent.
Cashback amounts can vary, can take a while to come through, and there are certain rules around it. For example, if you return something you buy, you won’t qualify for the cashback. It can also take a while for the cashback to become available for you to transfer to your bank or PayPal account. But it’s still an easy way to save without realising.
James in the MoneyAware team has been using cashback sites for years and has received £1072 back in total for his purchases.
Which? has a guide to cashback sites to you get started.
6. Take advantage of reward points
Some people warn me off signing up for reward point cards from stores because they allow companies to track your spending. But I personally don’t care if a supermarket knows how often I buy noodles, especially if it’s going to save me money.
If you’re regularly shopping with a certain retailer anyway, it makes sense to see if they offer some kind of points system to help you save money in the long-run.
One of my friends buys all of her cosmetics and toiletries from one retailer throughout the year and then uses all the points to buy Christmas presents. Can’t argue with that.
7. No spend days
Pretty much what it sounds like: a day where you simply don’t spend any money.
You can make this work for you in a few ways. You could try not spending any money on anything. Or, if you have to buy something like a bus ticket for work or pay a bill, you could choose to only spend on essentials.
The idea of no spend days isn’t to make up for it on other days. While some no spend days aren’t a choice, when I do have money spare I find it makes me think more carefully about my spending overall.
If you manage to save money you’d have normally spent on your no spend day, why not put it onto a savings pot?
Do you have any savings tips to share? Tell us about them in the comments.