It's that time of the year again where people make unrealistic resolutions to go to the gym everyday, totally change their diets or drop everything and move to Barbados and open up a beach bar. Or something like that. So what about joining me in a more realistic resolution - to save a little bit of money each week and put it towards something special. I really wanted to go on a holiday this January, however my student budget couldn't stretch to accommodate it. I have tried to win a holiday (with no luck so far) but am determined that this time next year I will be able to make it to the sunshine. And so each week I am planning on saving some money and putting some away into a savings account so that this time next year I will be packing my sunhat and shorts ready for a bit of winter sun...
1) Take Note and Budget
For me, one of the easiest ways to manage your money is to know exactly how much you have. By purchasing a small diary or using an app on your phone (Free ones such as MoneyHub or Money Lover are good) are a really simple way to keep on top of your spending. Simply by knowing what's going in and out, you can live within your means far easier, and create a budget plan that works for you.
A neat way to keep motivated to sticking to your budget is to create a poster for your wall or fridge outlining what you want to save for and how much you need to save. Then you can split this into manageable chunks and tick them off as you go. I love things like this, as its a constant motivation and helps you see the bigger picture, rather than just getting down about the fact you can't buy ANOTHER little black dress from TopShop! By taking a picture of it and setting it as your phone wallpaper, you will have some motivation wherever you go! Here's mine for my Winter Sunshine Break:
This was great fun to make and would be a brill thing to do with kids to encourage them to think about money. I have drawn inspirations in the gaps to remind me good ways to save and left some blank so that I can add in any I find from other blogs I've read. Every time I add up my savings in my little money diary to be £25, I can tick it off. In fact, I got £40 over Christmas from family, so I will put £25 of that away in my savings account and can tick off one box already. That's a good start to the year!
If you make one of these inspiration boards, tweet me a photo of it using @LaurieBeat and I will retweet my favourites! Your drawings can't be much worse than mine - is it clear I dropped art at school?
You know that way when its getting to the end of the tube of moisturizer and you feel like you are getting more air out than product? You've shaken, you've stirred, but you're not expecting any more to come out. Well, think again, there's almost always more.
To reveal all of that hidden product, simple snip off the top 1/4 of the tube, making sure to keep it aside for later. Inside this section alone you will find lots of cream. Scoop it out and put it in the remaining part of the tube, who's walls are normally thick with product. Then, squeeze the sides of the tube a little to use the top 1/4 of the tube as a makeshift lid. Sorted! Okay it might not look as good as before, or might not be as practical, but it can make your products last so much longer and, with the price of skincare products these days, that could be a big saving over the year!
This technique can then be applied to toothpaste, shampoo, facewashes...anything really! Go on, give it a shot. You may be surprised how much you normally throw away!!
3) Shop Around
Now, I have spoken before about brand loyalists in my other shopping blog post (click the link to have a quick read, it could save you loads on your weekly bill!), but I know that there are many folk who are loyal to a certain shop too - be it Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury's or just the local deli shop. However, there is a world of cheap food stores out there, and simply adding them into your weekly shop could save you loads of money.
Discount stores such as Home Bargains and B&M are a favourite of mine - not only do they sell lots of household objects, but also they have a great groceries section. For example, the Alta Rica Nescafe coffee that my dad seems to live off (around £4 in most big supermarkets) can regularly be found for a mere £2.79 in Home Bargains. Fruit and veg is a great one too, and I was over the moon to get 1.5kg of sweetclems for £1. A pound!!! During the winter, these are in season here and so taste amazing, and ward off any nasty colds that could be kicking about - saving you on expensive medicine in the long run! I think one of the most successful buys we get every week is the Cidal soap, which can be found in Boots as a 2-pack for £2. Not too bad, but Home Bargains are selling the individual bars for 19p. Yes, 19 pennies. Bargain indeed!
There is one issue with shopping in places like Home Bargains for your groceries, and that is the lack of consistency, We found an amazing Swiss dark chocolate made by Cailler for an incredible 49p for the 100g bar. By the time we had been home and polished the lot off, the shop had sold out and we have never seen it again. The same can be said for my favourite tea - Tetley Blend Of Both. One week we saw it for £1.49 (£1 cheaper than elsewhere) and stocked up, which was lucky as it is the only time I've ever seen it that cheap. So be warned, enjoy the savings, but you might never see the product again, so don't become too attached!
Poundland and Poundworld are other really great options, but don't fall into the trap of doing all your shopping there, as not everything is a bargain. These places make their money by offering big brands really cheap to attract you in, and then making bigger profit margins on the other things you buy while you are there. Keep in mind the prices of items in other shops - this is all about shopping around remember, not doing all your shopping in one place. Some really great bargains that can be found in the pound shops are the Jordans Frusilli Bars (£1.99 in most supermarkets, and a nightmare to find the exact flavour my mum likes) and Muller Light Chocolate Yogurts - A decadent treat at a fraction of the price (and calories). Working out at 25p a yogurt rather than 50p a yoghurt is quite a saving if you add it all up! Again, be aware of the fact that their product range will change frequently, so be snappy if there is something you know you like or use a lot of - especially non perishable items like toothpaste and soap.
Although to many people it can seem like a lot of effort to go to the different shops, it really is worth making the time! I tend to do a few smaller shops throughout the week - I pop into Iceland on the way home from uni, I grab a few items from Poundland when I'm in the town centre shopping and I swing by Lidl if I'm on that bus route. As long as you keep track of your spending, buying little and often at a variety of shops can really help you save big!
4) Beware the snack packs
It's the New Year and so hundreds of people up and down the country will be vowing to ditch the sweet treats in favour of healthy snacks. Shops so kindly sell 'snack packs' of things like carrot batons, chopped melon and apple slices. But beware the price tag. Those little 80g bags of apple slices in Asda work out at a staggering £6 per kilo. The fact that you can walk into the neighbouring aisle and pick up the same weight of apple for just £1.60 surely must set alarm bells ringing. For just a little extra effort, you can slice the apple at home and put it in a Tupperware, so it's just as handy for on the go. To stop them going brown, simply add some lemon juice to the apple slices and keep them in an air tight container. The saving is incredible, and the effort is totally worth it!
5) A night out to remember
As a student, nights out are a common part of my social life. However, once the drink is flowing, it's all too easy to spend far more than you originally intended (how much money must we spend in chip shops after a night out, when there is yummy toast at home?). Below are some simply tips to make nights out a more affordable affair:
a) Do a clothes swap! Have a night where you invite your friends round and get them all to bring a couple of items of clothing they don't want any more, or doesn't fit. Get in a bottle of wine, and have a great night in where everyone gets to swap an item of clothing and refresh their wardrobe a bit! We had such a fun night doing this, trying on each others clothes and showing off our new looks to each other. It was a great night, and far cheaper than most we go on, and we've saved money on the next night outs outfit! Double win!
b) On the same theme, switch up your nights out a bit. Rather than going to the pub for pre-drinks and then heading to a night club (therefore paying bar prices, and entry fee), try having your friends round to your flat! Or have pre-drinks at home, rather than at the pub. Just make sure to drink responsibly even though you're paying less! At uni, my group of friends decided to do a 'flat crawl' - a much cheaper alternative to the usual 'bar crawl'. We chose 4 peoples flats that were in walking distance of each other and all chipped in £10 for drink to last us the night. At each flat there was a designated drink (similar to a bar crawl) but the drink total was only £10 and no entry fee! It was such a laugh and was great to try something new on a night out!
c) Socialising doesn't have to be all parties though, partying isn't for everyone, but that doesn't mean that we just sit about the house every night! There are loads of free nights available, with a little bit of research. If you live near a university, have a look on their website to see if there are any talks going on.These can be so interesting, and you can meet some really cool like-minded people. As a little plus, there are often free drinks and nibbles afterwards! Similarly, there are often book talks from authors (check your local library), shop openings and markets. These can all make great nights out, without paying a penny! A really great book for ideas on this is 'How I Lived a Year on a Pound a Day' by Kath Kelly. I have written a review on this book that you can read here.
So there you go, these are my Day to Day Money Saving Tips that will hopefully set your New Year off to a great start! Set your sights on something you want to save for, and it can be possible with just a little bit of re-juggling and some smart thinking.
Do you have any money saving tips? If so comment below or tweet me at @LaurieBeat. Happy New Year - may it be filled with money saving magic!