So, I’m definitely not going to be a millionaire any time soon, but I think I’m doing a reasonably good job of saving money at the same time as keeping up a normal social life. Since going freelance, I’ve become so much more conscious of what I’m spending since my income can be pretty varied every month.
If you’re trying to save thousands and thousands for a house deposit or a wedding, these tips might not be quite hardcore enough for you. But if you’re just looking for some small, easy ways to save money (either for a rainy day fund, backup freelance income or to begin saving for bigger things in the future), I’ve found these tips to make a big difference to my saving – without having to give up things I enjoy.
1. Cancel subscriptions you don’t use
Whether it’s a gym membership you don’t make use of, a beauty box you no longer get excited about or a streaming service you always forget about, cancel it now. Trust me, you won’t miss it and there are often free (or cheaper) alternatives available. I resisted cancelling my Spotify Premium membership for so long, but I got rid of it a couple of months ago and have barely even noticed. The only subscription I’m definitely keeping is Netflix as I use it every day. But, for example, if you have both Netflix and Amazon Prime, decide which one you use more and cancel the other to save money.
2. Stop buying so many things
It sounds simple, and it kind of is – just stop buying so much stuff! I used to spend lots of money on new clothes and makeup, most of which would go unworn or only get used very occasionally. Instead of putting myself on a spending ban, I’ve just stopped buying so much stuff but I still allow myself to spend when I need to. I only really buy new makeup/skincare if something runs out and I need to replace it. As for clothes, I’ve accepted the fact that I spend 90% of my time in jeans and jumpers so I no longer bother buying dresses or going out clothes. I also always try things on in the changing room or return online orders straight away so I don’t end up keeping clothes I don’t like and will never wear.
3. Create a meal plan
Food, drink and dining out is probably where I spend most of my money – and I’m okay with that as it’s something I really enjoy. To cut down costs a little bit, make sure to create a meal plan and stick to it as much as possible. Figure out which days you’re going to be out so you don’t buy more than you need, cook meals which can be portioned up and put in the freezer, and try to plan meals which use some of the same ingredients so you don’t end up chucking out a load of food that’s gone off at the end of the week. I usually do an online grocery order at the beginning of the week as it’s so much cheaper than nipping to the express supermarkets a few times throughout the week. I mostly work from home so don’t need to worry about the temptation of going out for lunch, but if you find yourself spending lots of money at Pret or Starbucks every day, consider making your own lunch or taking your own coffee to work to cut costs even more.
4. Stop buying brand names
There are some brand names I’ll never give up (there’s no substitute for Tropicana amirite?), but in general you can swap most things for own-brand versions. You probably won’t notice the difference and will save money at the same time. You can go for the super value options if you like, but even the normal supermarket own brand is often half the price of big-name brands. This mainly applies to food and household products, but you can also swap stuff like skincare and clothes for cheaper options (but only if it makes sense and you’re happy with the quality of the cheaper one).
5. Consider your travel plans
I save so much money by not having a car and rarely spending money on public transport. Luckily, working from home means I don’t have a commute, and as I live near the city centre I can (and do) walk almost everywhere. If you have to commute to work every day, a monthly bus/train pass might be a great option – but only if you would use it enough for it to pay for itself. If you only make a few journeys per month, it’s probably much cheaper to stick to a ‘pay as you go’ basis. Same goes for a car – do you use it enough to justify the cost, or could you get rid of it or maybe share with a sibling/partner to save money?
6. Always shop around
When I’m shopping online, I always do a quick Google to see which website is the cheapest or has the best discount code available. If it’s a big purchase, it can be worth holding off buying until there’s a sale or until a new model is released so you can get the old one cheaper. It’s also worth shopping around with things you already have – stuff like TV/broadband packages, energy providers etc. This is something I need to do more of as last time we threatened to leave Virgin Media we got about £20 off our monthly package – score! This is a great way to save money on costly monthly bills, as long as you’re prepared to phone up and do a little bit of haggling.
7. Take advantage of free stuff
Not spending money doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sit at home and do nothing. I’ve already blogged about 18 free things to do in Edinburgh, and most towns and cities will have similar things to do which don’t cost a penny. I’m lucky that I often get invited to review restaurants or attend blogger events which means I can enjoy a free meal or a social event in return for a review. I’m not suggesting you start a blog just to get free stuff, but if the opportunity’s there, take advantage of it! If you’re not a blogger, keep an eye out for Groupon/Wowcher deals or restaurant soft launches to get a cut price meal.
8. Sign up for loyalty cards
If you shop somewhere regularly, make sure to sign up for their loyalty card (NOT a store card!) to earn points and save money. I noticed the other day that I had over £70 worth of points to spend on my Boots Advantage Card so I can either treat myself to something expensive, or get a few months of toiletry essentials for free. From big chains like Nandos to local coffee shops, loads of places offer loyalty cards or schemes so it’s always worth looking into, especially if it’s somewhere you’d be spending money anyway.
9. Cut your own hair
Okay, this tip definitely isn’t going to be for everyone! However, I always find myself disappointed when I leave the hairdresser and wonder why I’ve just spent £40 for my hair to look exactly the same. If I was planning a drastic change I’d definitely book an appointment, but if I just need a quick trim or an easy cut, I’ll just do it myself. I also save money (a lot of money!) by not dying my hair – the thought of spending £100+ on this just does not compute with me. If you’re not ready to go completely DIY, consider downgrading to a junior stylist or find a local college which offers training cuts and you’ll save a ton of money.
10. Set up a standing order
As I work freelance and have a different income every month which gets paid at different times, I can’t really set up a standing order to go straight to a savings account. If you have a regular job, however, I’d definitely recommend setting up a standing order to come out as soon as you get paid. You won’t be tempted to spend the money throughout the month on pointless stuff as it’s not in your current account, so you’ll soon save up a decent chunk. Make sure you plan and budget accordingly so you still have enough money to live off, though. I have a figure in mind that I save every month – as I can’t set up a standing order, I just keep an eye on my account and whenever it’s looking the healthiest I’ll transfer this regular amount to my savings account.
What tips do you have for saving money?