We all know what a struggle January can be financially. Most of us will have spent so much money over the Christmas period that January is a time to scale back our spending to either pay everything off or put some money back into our savings. I am by no means an expert on savings! Saving money is definitely something I need to work on in 2016 so I have done my research and also come up with some ideas myself for being a little bit more frugal this month and into the rest of this year…
- Dry January/insert month – I have actually been invited to quite a few social events this month, which I can’t really miss out on (close friends’ ‘big’ birthdays!) but I have promised myself that these three events will be the only time I will be drinking alcohol. Make a pact that in January and even throughout the rest of the year, you will only drink alcohol socially, no drinking in the house alone (standard teacher practice) and no cheeky glasses of wine with a meal or you know because it’s Tuesday!
- Stay in – again, as mentioned above, I have three events that I can’t really miss (a 40th Birthday party, a 30th masquerade Ball and my best friend’s birthday night out) but I have politely declined quite a few other invitations that I have received for this month. I will also be eating in everyday this month, no restaurant visits! Learn to say no sometimes, I went to the opening of an envelope last year and it did my bank balance absolutely no favours.
- No takeaways and unhealthy snacking – this obviously ties in with a lot of weight loss goals for the year and kills two birds with one stone by keeping your finances to a minimum. A lot of takeaway or fast food seems relatively cheap but if you actually add all of it up it can become quite costly, especially with minimum spends for free delivery.
- No unnecessary spending on transportation – I don’t drive and constantly find myself wasting money out of sheer laziness or lack of organisation. As a teacher who doesn’t drive, I have been guilty in the past of wasting £20 a time on Taxi journeys to work because ‘it was raining’ or ‘I woke up late’ or ‘I wanted an extra 45 minutes in bed’ or ‘I had too many books to carry’. Sometimes, I was wasting £80 a week on multiple Taxi journeys, which I could have been spending on something I love or saving! Even my £10.50 weekly bus pass is a waste if I can walk. Are you spending too much on petrol or wasting it on pointless journeys?
- Take advantage of loyalty/reward cards – here in the UK, a lot of supermarkets and retailers offer loyalty or reward cards, which mean that you can redeem points when you spend certain amounts, those points all add up and can then be spent in store. I have multiple: Boots Advantage Card, Superdrug Beauty Card, Tesco Club Card, Accessorize Reward Card, Debenhams Beauty Club Reward Card which are all incredibly advantageous to me. Use these cards to their full potential, make sure you use them each time you go and save up your points/vouchers until you really need them. This year my goal is to save all of my Boots Advantage Points until December and use them to buy Christmas presents (then I don’t have to spend my cash ) and even treat myself to a few little bits and bobs!
- Take advantage of vouchers and coupons – I must admit, we’re not as big on couponing as some of you guys from the US are but we still have vouchers and coupons available to us that we can use. Some of the loyalty cards as mentioned above also have vouchers and coupons available as well as points and other coupons can be found in newspapers, magazines and online.
- Sell unwanted items – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and there is something so therapeutic about having a massive clear out. If you are an ‘Ebay’ virgin (like me) try other selling sites and platforms. There are lots of local selling sites on Facebook, which allow you to list your items for free, share your unwanted items with your ‘friends’ who might be more willing to buy from somebody they know or share your listings for you. Local newspapers also list items for sale for a small fee. Car Boot Sales (if you’re in the UK) or Garage/Yard Sales (if you’re in the US) are also other ways of getting rid of smaller items that aren’t worth listing on a major site. If you are going to list on a site, make sure you do your research about selling rules, fees and postage and packaging to avoid any messy transactions or disappointments.
- Reuse and recycle – here in the UK, new legislation has been passed in the last 3 months about the use of plastic carrier bags in supermarkets and retailers. All major retailers must now charge 5p for each standard plastic carrier bag you require during your shopping experience. Make sure you are reusing your carrier bags to avoid a charge each time or invest in stronger and thicker plastic bags or cloth/fabric bags which can be used over and over again. 5p doesn’t seem like a lot of money but think about how much you would be spending if you forgot your reusable bags everyday for a year!
- Check your outgoings – are you paying too much for your gas and electricity supplier? Telephone your supplier with your meter readings, they might be charging you based on an estimated usage. Are you on the right mobile/cell phone payment plan/tariff? If you live on your own, are you paying ‘Single Person’s Council Tax Allowance’? Could you switch to another provider of gas/electricity/Internet/telephone/digital television? Are you entitled to any benefits or government support that you weren’t aware of? Can you not remember the last time you watched something on Netflix?( Yeah, that’s right! The one you pay £5.99 a month for). Every little helps, it all adds up so CHECK!
- No unnecessary spending – “Hello, I’m Dani and I’m a stationary/magazine addict”. I can’t walk past a nice notebook, a pretty diary, a floral ring binder folder or a 12 piece writing set without putting them in my basket. Do I really need them? NO! I am putting myself on a one magazine a week restriction. I will be the proud reader of £1.25 New! Magazine each week instead of Look! Magazine, Heat, OK!, Closer, Reveal, Star, Grazia, Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Company. They all pretty much say the same thing and the majority of the information can be found online. What do you waste money on? Get rid of it.
- Shop around – this can be boring and tedious at first but you will thank yourself in the long run! Which supermarket is cheaper than the others? Where can you find milk and bread and washing powder cheaper? Who has got an offer on toilet rolls this week? Can you find those Nike trainers you want for the gym any cheaper anywhere else? Look on the Internet for comparison sites or ‘Google’ your weekly shop items to search for prices from the comfort of your own home.
- Don’t be wasteful – before you do your weekly shop, look at what you actually need before you start buying more. Plan your meals so you know what you will eat first and what you will eat later. Look carefully at ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates. Eat these items first or if possible freeze certain food stuffs like meat. Make one batch of something and eat it for your lunch or for another meal later on in the week. For food that doesn’t keep very well before going rotten (e.g. fruit) buy as you are going along each day rather than during your ‘big’ weekly shop.
- Swap, borrow, make do and mend – swap clothes, CDs, books, magazines, DVDs with your friends. if you are going out, look through your wardrobe, can you jazz up an old outfit so that you don’t have to buy something new? Before I was a teacher, in my late teens especially, I used to love customising my own outfits. Add some jewels to the heel of your boring black shoes, wear an eye catching waisted belt with your plain dress, wear a statement necklace, pin a corsage to your plain, uninteresting clutch bag (I will do some posts on this, if anybody is interested!) Go to your local library and see if they have the book you’re dying to read (instead of paying £7.99 for it). Does Netflix have that film you feel like watching instead of going to buy the DVD?
- Make your own enjoyment – have a girly night in with your friends, have a cosy night in with your partner, get the karaoke machine out or music and DVDs that you already own. Make use of that Netflix/Amazon Prime subscription and have a TV box set or movie marathon. Spend your Friday and Saturday nights going to the gym or swimming or to an exercise class. Use that time to feel amazing and get the body that you want for all of those future nights out you’ll soon be able to have again! Have a bubble bath and use up all of those pamper products that you got for Christmas or still have lying around. Do the things you love that don’t cost you a penny!
Why don’t you…? choose one of the items off the list (e.g. alcohol) and put the money that you would have spent on that item in a money box (every Friday night, I usually have a bottle of wine, which costs around £6). If I put £6 in a money box that would roughly equate to £6 x 52 weeks a year) which equals £312. Use the money to treat yourself at the end of the year or to go towards your holiday in 2017 <3.
Hope you have found these tips helpful. I will definitely be trying to follow my own advice and save some money in 2016. UK readers, check out https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en for excellent financial guidance, including their #survivejanuary kit.
Have you got any tips for being frugal and thrifty? Please share them in the comments down below!
Love Dani x
Image Credit 1: http://www.iamintheuk.com
Image Credit 2: http://www.popsugar.com