There is one thing we all have in common: we all wish we had more money. Amongst most young women (and older women too), we live in that grim reality of juggling payments for rent, mortgages, food, travel, phone bills, utility bills, self maintenance, socialising… and lets face it, it isn’t easy trying to save money aside or reduce our outgoings.
I for one am trying to have a much more frugal and thrifty 2016, and have started to draw up a few monthly budgets and outgoing analysis to see where I can cut back and save, thus having more money to set aside. Once February arrives, I start going more full time with What Emma Did – both the blog and boutique – which means I’ll be halving my usual income I am used to earning from my full time job. So for all of you joining me in aiming to save a few extra pennies per month, take a read of the following tips and tricks I have put together to encourage tightening those purse strings….
1. Unsubscribe from retailer emails
If you are prone to temptation, then unsubscribe yourself from retailer emails which you receive daily, boasting flash sales, free delivery or any other promotions. You don’t need to see that kind of shopping enforcement. Yes, even that beauty retailer that is promoting 50% off everything. Unsubscribe. I said unsubscribe!
2. Have a penny jar
Ah this one is a little gem if you do this right! Keep a large jar/unusued glass bottle in a place which you will walk past in your house everyday. I keep a large jar inside my wardrobe shelves which has all my makeup products on, as I open that up everyday. For most people, near the kitchen door or in the living room will do. The aim is to open your purse every time you enter the house and pop in loose change. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 2p coin, or £3.50 in change. Whatever you feel like popping in the jar, just pop in to your hearts content! At the end of the year, if you count up all your change and cash it in, you’ll be surprised how much you saved. Do this wisely and the jar could contain your Christmas 2016 fund!
3. Buy a flask and stop buying take-out coffee
A very effective one, but difficult for Starbucks worshippers like me. I buy an extortionate 5 take-out coffees per week; one for every working day in the city. But from February I’m going to be cutting down to 3 days a week. It would be amazing to cut these out completely, or to treat myself to just once a week, on a Friday perhaps. But I feel I need to ween off this habit’ slowly’. Don’t want any withdrawals do we! My usual Starbucks or Nero costs around £2.45 a day, so I’ll be saving around £5 a week on this little hack. If your a coffee addict too, fancy trying this with me?
4. Have a spare bank account
This is a tactic I started in December, all ready for the new year. I actually did this with an empty bank account I have which I don’t have a bank card for, but you can just set up a new account (find one with the highest interest rates). Every time I make a bit of money on eBay, I transfer a little bit across to the spare account. I also do the same when it’s payday, and move about £25 across to it. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s like a secret saving account that I can’t access via card. When I’m on nights out or doing a bit of shopping, there’s no temptation to go into it, therefore I’ll let it add up this year. Peace of mind!
5. Bring in a packed lunch
Again, much easier said than done depending where you work. For me, it’s torture being surrounded by so many nice eateries during lunch times. I have Pret A Manger staring at me from my desk, and Nandos around the corner. However, just by making a sandwich at home and popping in a banana and an afternoon treat (depends how healthy you wish to be, I was going to suggest a pack of chocolate covered raisins but kind of might not appeal to most!) you are saving that £5 spend you would have been making. Other lunchtime options include microwave jacket potatoes, leftover dinner from the night before, pasta salads or quinoa/cous cous meals. Healthy and cheap!
6. Have more family time
For those evenings where I get asked to go for after work drinks, or to head out for a full on Saturday night out, I’m going to start making a conscious effort to look at what else I could do to save the £50 plus I’d spend. For me, I could head to see my parents for the evening, and have dinner with them and catch up. This would cost me nothing (except the small fuel cost), and would provide me with valuable family time that I should prioritise more. If your family don’t live close to you, visit a friend you don’t see all that much, or take your dog for a really long walk instead.
7. Carry cash and use it
A simple yet effective trick is to draw cash out from the cash machine, and keep it on you for spending instead of your card. So when you pop out for lunch with friends on a weekend, only use what is in your purse. Find it doesn’t cover enough to add a glass of fizz to your lunch? Well it means you can’t afford it! Opt for the Diet Coke option instead. If you enable this tactic with most activities, you’ll find you will be ultimately saving a lot of money.
8. Make investment purchases
Sometimes we make the mistake of heading to Primark and stocking up on lots of cheaper clothes regularly, rather than investing in timeless, top quality clothing that will last us a lifetime (or at least a good five years). I used to be guilty of this, then find myself throwing clothes out because they are too ‘last season’, or the material falls apart after a few washes. Although I don’t currently have the funds to go full on designer shopping, I did come across a really handy site called Hardly Ever Worn It, which I’m loving for seeking out classic designer items at lower prices. To use the site, you basically buy from sellers who have ‘hardly worn it’ (hence the name) who are members of the site. You then liaise directly with the seller, and Hardly Ever Worn It then takes your payment before releasing it to them, letting you receive the item first. Honestly if you wish you had some lovely, ever lasting designer pieces in your wardrobe to stop you wasting money on ‘tat’, then take a look. I found a gorgeous pair of YSL shoes £200 cheaper than I saw them in Selfridges a while back. Investment pieces rarely date if you shop properly, so consider giving this a go.
9. Be savvy with cooking
As much as I love the freedom of living on my own, one thing I noticed throughout 2015 was the amount of food that gets wasted. Fresh fruit and vegetables that get bought at the start of the week but not used up get shamelessly thrown out by the end of the week. A way for me to stop food waste is by making large casseroles, curries or bakes at the start of the week, using up all the fresh vegetables and meat in one go. Then, by using containers, serve up the remains and save them for tomorrow’s lunch, another evening’s dinner, or freeze and re-served another time. Time saving, waste saving and money saving!
10. Dine in more
This is one of the area’s I literally flush away money on. I’m such a foodie and have a number of different friendship groups, making dining out and going for girly lunches a far too regular occurrence. Living in Manchester City Center doesn’t make this a cheap hobby, so if you’re guilty of this too, try hosting ‘come dine with me’ with a group of friends. Instead of meeting at pricey cafe bars, host dinner at one of your homes each week, and cook up your favourite dish. Or host coffee mornings at your place, to cut back on travelling into the city and over-paying for a cup of coffee. You still get to socialise, but it cuts out so many unnecessary costs.
11. Cut things in half
Cotton pads, face wipes, make-up sponges… anything you can, asses whether it can be cut in half to prolong the use. Everyday items can last you double their longevity.
12. Ask for vouchers
Are you that polite person who answers with “I don’t know?” when people ask what you want for your Birthday or Christmas, only to find you get given hand-me-down bath sets you’ll never use? Start being vocal and mention vouchers to your favourite store, or even for places like Tesco or Sainsburys which will really come in handy for everyday life purchases. Not that exciting, but you’ll be surprised how much you’ll appreciate them.
13. Invest in a non-trend scarf/pashmina
Liven up outfits instead of buying new ones by adding an all-round stylish pashmina to your look. If you purchase a good quality one in a neutral shade, you can throw it over a casual tee and jeans, or you can also use it to dress up an everyday classic coat. Invest in a number of these and you’ll find you can limit how many new items of clothing you’ll actually need to buy.
14. Indulge in money-making activities
At the end of January, I’m doing a pretty different activity for a friends hen do: we are out playing bingo! When a group of you get together for a game filled evening where you can actually win something, it’s not always seen as throwing money away. It’s fun, sociable, as affordable as you make it, and you can actually win prizes or money back. I’m really looking forward to it. Try and cut down on expensive nights just ‘bar-hopping’ and sipping £8 cocktails. There’s so many more fun options you can try.
15. Cut back on manicure and pedicure bookings
Save a little bit of money by cutting back on monthly manicures and pedicures. Pop on some candles and your favourite soundtrack, and indulge in half an hour of ‘me’ time by doing these tasks yourself. It’s easier and less time consuming than you think.