We all want to save money. Sometimes it’s for certain things like holidays, birthdays or Christmas festivities but otherwise, it’s just nice to know that you have a buffer in the bank for when the unexpected happens. It’s something that over the years I personally have struggled with, and this year we have started to make a real effort to count the pennies and make sure that we’re able to get into some good habits with our money.
Over the last few months, I’ve learned some tips and tricks to help make sure that we budget properly, avoid overspending and take responsibility for our cash from one month to the next. Here are my top five super simple tips to make sure your money goes further and that life becomes a little easier for you and yours.
Cash is King
In an age where Chip & Pin and Contactless rules the stores, it is so, so easy to overspend. When you’re not handing over something physical, like notes and coins, it’s almost like you’re not spending at all. It’s a sure-fire way to get a shock towards the end of the month when you realise you have spent way, way more money than you thought you had. Often, you have nothing to show for it either. We have started to withdraw cash, as an allowance, for the week. This makes us much more accountable for what we are spending and stops us from going completely mental on little things we don’t necessarily need. We do keep our debit cards for things like fuel, which doesn’t come out of the allowance, but for every day spends – keep it cash!
Turn off “Payment on Delivery”
I’ve only realised recently that Paypal have introduced ‘pay on delivery’ and that it’s turned on by default. This means that when you pay for goods using paypal with most big merchants, they don’t remove the money from your bank account straight away. Instead, they wait 14 days, after which time they assume you’ve received your item and THEN deduct what you owe. It’s not a great system in my honest opinion and it causes way, way more issues than it solves. You can turn it off in your Paypal settings, and my advice is to do so. That way you’re only spending money you have, not what you may or may not have in a fortnight!
DO YOUR RESEARCH.
I mean this in relation to anything really, but in particular you need to research everything that will involve money. Be it something you’re looking to purchase, a utility company you want to switch to, getting the best deals on your home broadband, or if you’re looking for a loan, credit card or mortgage, you need to research to see which you’re likely to be accepted for and which ones provide the best interest rates (this goes for short-term loans too, where companies like swiftmoney are trying to put a stop to ridiculous interest rates if you find yourself needing cash in an emergency!). Make sure you head over to places like Money Saving Expert and uSwitch to make comparisons and get more advice on the amount of research to do. If you’re looking to buy something, Amazon should be the first place you look. Even if you aren’t looking to purchase from them, their review system is the best way to see whether the product you’re after is worth the money. I’d also check Hot UK Deals to see if anywhere has your potential purchase at a discount!
Take full advantage of Cashback websites
There are two very well-known cashback websites. TopCashBack and Quidco – both can offer some fantastic cashback deals on your purchases, but you must remember to check them before you make any purchases. In particular, you should definitely check them if you’re switching energy provider, broadband company or your car insurance, because they can offer some staggering amounts of money in return for your business. They are 100% legitimate, even though my mum can’t quite believe it, and you can withdraw your earnings at any time. It costs nothing to sign up and you can make a tidy sum of cash for a transaction that you would have made regardless. Make sure you check both sites whenever you’re looking to spend, as they have offers on a whole range of different merchants, from Just-Eat to New Look.
Use a separate bank account for your bills and direct debits
Although not that financially savvy, this is something that we have been doing since we lived together. We have our main joint bank account with our “spends” in it and a separate account, from which all of our bills and direct debits are taken. Once we’re paid, we immediately transfer a certain amount via standing order and we do not touch it. So far, it has been a devastating success and we’re always on time with our payments without putting any effort into it. These days, transferring direct debits has never been easier and my advice would be to nip into your local branch of your chosen bank to get this set up. They’ll be happy to make sure everything is swiftly changed over without messing up any of your commitments.
These are the tips that we as savers have found the most useful as we try and save as much money as we possibly can, whilst also running our busy little household. What tips and tricks have you learned are best for saving money and avoiding overspending? Let us know in the comments or on twitter, using the hashtag #KnowYourMoney – we might even share yours in one of our future posts!
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