The last few months have hit us hard financially. Some expenses were planned and saved for but others took us by surprise. No matter how hard you save and how much you plan, there is always something lurking around the corner. At least we had our emergency fund and our reserve money budget (sinking funds) to fall back on.
Now we need to batten down the hatches, get back on the money saving trail and I decided it was time for my annual check of money saving activities to see if there are areas we can cut back on to get our savings and emergency fund back again.
I am sure we could all do with a boost to our savings pot, so I thought I would share my best money saving tips:
Money Saving Tip 1 - Save your Change
I love the old saying ‘look after your pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. I love my ‘money pots’ and I throw all my spare change in them at the end of the week. It is surprising just how much money you can save. I like to count mine up at the end of the year and last year I saved £61 just in spare change.
Money Saving Tip 2 - Batch Cook
Batch cooking saves you both money and time and, let’s face it, we are usually short of both! Firstly, you can save money buying larger packs of ingredients, you save on fuel costs as you are only cooking once but eating multiple times and this saves you time as you only need to reheat the batched cooked meals.
My slow cooker is my friend when it comes to batch cooking. One of my favourite meals to batch cook is Spaghetti Bolognese. I cook a big batch, in my slow cooker, once per month. We then eat this once per week throughout the month. We eat one batch on the day we cook it and then I portion the rest up in my Sistema food containers and pop them in the freezer. Over the following weeks I defrost a portion overnight and reheat it for dinner the next day.
Money Saving Tip 3 - Use Comparison Sites for Insurance Renewals
I have made major savings over the last two years using comparison sites for insurances. I was reluctant to take the plunge as I couldn’t be bothered to start plugging in all my details. It actually only took around 5 minutes and we saved hundreds. This is now an annual money saving task and I do it whenever a renewal letter pops through the door.
Money Saving Tip 4 - Keep a Spending Diary
If you genuinely don’t know where all your money has gone at the end of the month, then you need to try a spending diary. Simply note down each purchase and the amount and then check at the end of the month to see where you may be able to make savings.
Money Saving Tip 5 - Meal Plan
If you have never meal planned before, getting started can seem quite hard. Once you take the plunge, you will never look back. Not only will this save you money each week, it will also stop the ‘what’s for dinner’ dread as you will know exactly what you are having each night of the week.
Money Saving Tip 6 - Set Yourself a Savings Challenge
I love a savings challenge. This year I have challenged myself to save £10 each week on my grocery shop, save money for my kitchen renovation and I have just started a major savings challenge to save £40,000 in 4 years so that we can move house. Will I manage to accomplish this challenge – probably not – but if I don’t try then I definitely won’t. I’ve started by saving just £10, so already I only need £39,990. It sounds better already – ha ha.
Money Saving Tip 7 - Downgrade or Switch your Mobile Phone Plan
One of the biggest savings I made was when I came to the end of my mobile phone contract. I did many calculations (this sim only vs contract calculator can quickly show you which is cheapest) but decided the best way forward was to change to a sim only contract, although I stayed with my original provider. Eventually, I swapped provider too and it was much easier than I thought it would be and I was able to keep my number. I even purchased a second sim only contract for my eldest son who was beginning to get through pay as you go credit almost instantly and I was still paying less than I had been just for my original sim only contract.
Money Saving Tip 8 - Swap your Takeaway for a Fakeaway
When our eldest was born and I returned to work, we were paying extortionate fees to a day nursery. We didn’t have the money for luxuries such as takeaways, so I started making them myself. My favourite recipe book is The Takeaway Secret. This has all the recipes to your favourite takeaways from McDonalds to KFC and Doner Kebabs to curry.
If cooking your own fakeaway isn’t for you, then take a look at the supermarket offerings. We love our weekly curry and now get ours from Iceland. At just £1.59 for a curry and £1.00 for pilau rice you can’t go wrong. A pack of naan breads tops it off and we save over £10 each week this way.
Money Saving Tip 9 - Find an Alternative to your Daily Coffee
I am a coffee drinker and I love a trip to my local Costa but if I was to do that everyday it would cost me a fortune!
I have this great Tassimo machine which I bought in a sale about two years ago. I chose this as Tassimo make the Costa Coffee discs and these make a great coffee at home drink and work out at around 50p per cup.
I also found the Aldi Latte sachets and really like these. These come in boxes of 8 sachets for just 89p per box. A massive saving on the price of a coffee shop coffee.
Money Saving Tip 10 - Take a Packed Lunch
Just like the coffee shop coffee, if you are buying your lunch everyday then you will be racking up the spending. Taking your own lunch doesn’t have to mean boring sandwiches. One of my favourite and easiest packed lunches is leftovers from the night before. You have already prepared it, you can pop it in your Sistema lunch box and if you have access to a microwave at work you can even warm it up.
Following the the money saving tips will mean you start saving money immediately. Some of them may only save you a few pence here and there but added together, you could easily see some significant savings.