Feeling the burn after Christmas and staring at the next few months with an empty wallet? Yeah. January can be really depressing with the cold and the money problems. Although this year it is apparently spring in January so that’s one thing sorted! In an attempt to reassess and redefine my relationship with money I drew up a list of 20 ways to save money this year. Here it is. Feel free to add your own ideas and comments at the end, the more the merrier!
1. False economy
Whether you make it yourself or get it from the shops, sometimes we spend more by mistake. Before you grab that deal or discount, ask yourself if it would be cheaper to make yourself or buy elsewhere. Also, don’t buy the cheapest item which can fall apart after only a bit of use, sometimes spending more is saving more in the long term.
2. Compare and save
This particular tip is older than Methuselah but it still stands true today. And lately, thanks to the thousands of comparison sites available online, it is much easier to do. Sit down with a pen, paper and your budget, compare prices across as many providers (electricity, gas, water, car insurance) as you can, and then decide.
3. Cook at home
Take out, ready meals, fast foods – these are a lot more expensive (and fattening) than eating your own meals at home. A well planned meal schedule will not only ensure you do a smart shop each week, but it will also mean you save money and likely eat healthier.
4. Bulk buy
If you have a big family, then bulk buying is your saviour. Actually, this is a genius idea no matter how large your home. Get items like toilet paper, toothpaste, cereal, coffee and so forth in bulk deals and discounts. You are less likely to run out and you save money.
5. Look down
Shops put the most expensive products at eye level. Look down and see the cheaper tins and products by your feet and get those instead. Often the labels instore will say exactly what amount you spend per gram or litre so save money by buying the same thing in a different tin.
6. Pay your debt
Try and consolidate any debt to a lower interest and pay it off as soon as possible. Make this a family priority before holidays and presents and days out so you can breathe easy in the long term. And save money on interest.
7. Make a list
Never go shopping without a list. I make this mistake all the time. Go with a budget, a prepared list and with a full stomach. That way you race through the shop, don’t spend money on unnecessary items that end up going off, and don’t get lured into the baked goods section to satisfy your hunger.
8. No more lattes
This is another one of my big weaknesses – gorgeous lattes from coffee shops. They cost as much as an entire packet of coffee and add up fast. It’s like pouring money (however tasty) down the drain. Say no!
9. Pay bills on time
Avoid late fees and shouting and a bad credit history by making sure that your debts are paid off on time every single month. Schedule a time, sit down, pay your bills. It’s tedious but worth it. If you look back over 2010 and add up your late fees, you may be shocked at what you lost.
10. Say no to impulses
How many times have you gone, “Oh, why not” and bought something? Yeah, me too. My Achilles Heel is books. If they are on sale, I am in there buying them. Don’t give in to temptation or allow yourself an annual temptation budget and don’t overspend it.
11. Price check
If you have to buy something essential for your home, price check it everywhere. Not just your usual sites. This is especially true of really expensive items that have to last a long time and cost the Earth.
12. Turn it off
Leaving the lights on, using standby, leaving plugs on – not only do all these things damage our planet but they cost you money. Turn the lights off when you aren’t in the room and avoid standby (and other such horrors) at all costs.
13. Plan your holidays
I am so bad at this and I always regret it. Don’t book your 2012 holiday in 2012, do your 2013 holiday NOW. You end up saving money on all sorts of factors and you get to avoid the rush.
14. Pack a lunch, take some water
That lunch bought in the Meal Deal at Boots (or wherever takes your fancy) is always going to be more expensive than you just taking a packed lunch to work. Also avoid things like bottled water or fizzy drinks and juices. These cost far more than you just buying juice in bulk, filling up a water bottle and then taking it with you to work.
15. Not new
Try getting things second hand instead of buying them new. Often they will be a lot cheaper and you are helping to cut back on waste and rubbish that is piling up across our planet.