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I’ve spoken a lot about reviewing your fixed expenses – ensuring you’re on the best energy deal and cutting back your TV subscription etc. But how can you save more money, when you’ve squeezed every last drop out of your bills? Well then it is time to turn to your variable spends! Your food shops, socialising and miscellaneous spending – how can you ensure you save as much money as possible?
I’ve put together a list of helpful suggestions and money saving tips to make your money go further, and also reached out to my blogging pals and asked for their input. Happy saving!
FOMO (Fear of missing out) is very real in this day and age so it can be tough turning down invitations but sometimes you might find you don’t actually want to go anyway but agree for FOMO or letting someone down. You don’t have to say no to everyone, but saying no on occasion is liberating! If you can’t say no, can you suggest a cheaper alternative?
One of my best money saving tips is to pause and really think if I need what I am about to buy. If necessary count to 20 then look afresh at what you were just about to purchase – do you need it? Often the very simple money saving answer is no. If you are asked out for lunch – pause- could you go for coffee or cook a meal yourself instead? Pausing buys you time to make better choices. Becky from Thrifty Home
Exercising with a friend is a proven technique for maintaining motivation at the gym, so why not apply it to your finances? You might find that your friends are in the same boat as you. Both my best friend and I confessed we were wasting too much money on takeaways – so vowed to meal plan for the week and check in on each other to make sure we were sticking to it.
Quite often a purchase is made on impulse without actually considering how much we do want or need it. Before putting your hand in your pocket, go away and think about it for a few days – chances are you’ll change your mind on it.
As a general rule, if I don’t have money for something I don’t fret about it. When you think about a product for 3 days it becomes less important. Doing this has enabled me to lead a leaner financial life. Therefore, I am able to put more money towards savings, investments and charity. – Abdul from Oliver Money
I love this mantra from Money Saving Expert: Ask yourself do I need it? Can I afford it? If the answer to either of these questions is no then walk away! – Jamie from Thrifty Mumma, Thrifty Bubba
I wrote about my thoughts on No Spend Days here and whilst my thoughts haven’t changed on the concept for me personally, I am in awe of the people on Instagram who track their no spend days with amazing results.
Why do you want to save? Tying your mindset to an actual numerical goal allows you to consider impulse purchases in terms of that goal. Saving £100 for a new kitchen appliance? Well that £10 spent nipping into town for coffee and cake suddenly doesn’t seem so appealing – that’s 10% of your goal right there!
Have a savings goal to aim for. That way you know why you are saving money and it helps you to focus on saving every penny. Emma from Tuppenny’s Fireplace
Create a budget and be honest about how much comes in, goes out and what you are spending. I wrote a series of posts on How to Create a Budget from Scratch, which you can find here: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
Count up your penny pots and swipe any loose change you find lying about the house. Count it all up and take it to the bank – don’t take it to a Coinstar or Money Machine in a supermarket as you’ll lose a percentage of your money in commission.
I check my banking app every morning to make sure that the balance is what I am expecting it to be. I check off (either physically on paper or on my spreadsheet) items that have gone out and make sure everything is as it should be. Doing this daily allows me to flag any potential issues before they become a problem.
Set a budget for each variable expense category (e.g. Food, Fuel, Socialising, Misc) and withdraw the money for the week for each category in cash. Having only cash available to spend makes you more conscious of what you are spending and more self-aware of your spending habits.
There is something psychological about handing over physical cash that makes it feel more ‘real’ than simply swiping your card. And once it’s gone it’s gone, so you definitely think more carefully about how you use it.
Set a budget for the month for things you are likely to overspend on and draw this money out in cash. I love using cash envelopes. It keeps me accountable to myself because I can physically hand the money over. Ellyree from Budgeting is a Challenge
Be honest with yourself and track what you spend each month. Try to keep receipts in case you forget to note it as you spend it. When you have a clear view of where your money goes you’ll be able to create a budget effectively and know where you can try and save some money.
Keep a spending diary. Seriously, write down every single thing you spend. Made me much more aware of where our money disappeared, so I could make changes. – Faith from Much More With Less
The penny saver account! I have an account set up on my online banking and every night I log on and any pennies I have on my balance (example my balance is £79.67) then I transfer the pennies balance over (the £0.67) if there is no pennies then transfer a £1. It all adds up! – @mybudgetlifex
Use an account like Monzo and automatically save all your odd pennies on every transaction you do… it’s amazing how it all adds up! Nikki from The Female Money Doctor
Use time effective money making apps like the Job Spotter app to make extra funds during your day. In the case of the Job Spotter app you can earn credit snapping job vacancies while out and about in the city. Not huge amounts, but it will offset that takeaway coffee or city carpark costs. Olly from Savvy Dad
Swapping buying a coffee every day for bringing your own can save you a fortune. Even an unfancy flat white can cost £3. If you buy one on your way to work every day that’s £15 a week, which equates to £780 a year! You might even find you buy more than one a day.
Make a meal plan for the week. Make a list of meals you will actually eat, taking into account the food already in the house and only add to your shopping list what you need.
Meal Plan! I spend most of my money on grocery shopping and find the best way to cut down the costs it to prepare a meal plan each week. This way I can make sure that we have 7 evening meals ready and no one eats the ingredients as they know they’re always for meals. Claire from Daily Deals UK
Dry goods such as pasta and rice are often cheaper to buy in bulk, so if you always have these items in your store cupboard, consider whether it’s more cost effective to buy the larger quantity. Quite often the price label will tell you the weight cost in pence which works out much cheaper.
Your food shop might cost more this week, but you probably won’t have to buy the product next week, so it’ll save you in the long run.
Try to buy in bulk when you do your shop. Bigger packets of things like toilet rolls, washing powder, tinned goods, toothpaste etc. usually work out cheaper when you buy more. Hayley from Miss Many Pennies
The bag charge in Wales came into force long before in England so you’d think by now I’d have it sussed, but nope – sometimes I’m caught short and end up buying a bag. 5p here and there might not seem like a lot, but if you’re doing a food shop for example the cheap bags are rubbish and you might find yourself scanning a couple of more expensive reusable ones.
Try to keep a stash of these in your car for such eventualities. I also like to keep a canvas shopper in my handbag as it folds down small and doesn’t take up much space. Then if I need a carrier bag, I’m always prepared – just remember to return it to your bag when you’ve unpacked your shopping!
Buying lunch is so expensive! Even if you got a £3 meal ‘deal’, that is still £15 a week when you could pack your own equivalent for a fraction of that cost.
Put together a packed lunch in the evening ready for the next day. You can just grab it and go, and won’t have to pay the extortionate fees for eating out! Francesca from From Pennies to Pounds
Never, ever do your supermarket shopping when you’re hungry. It’s a recipe for disaster as you’ll end up with all kinds of junk in your trolley – bad for your wallet and your waistline! Simon from Pennies for the Piggy Bank
I’ve started walking to the supermarket with a backpack. Not only is it great exercise, but it means I can only buy as much as I can fit into the backpack so I’m more careful (no impulse purchases) so I save money too. Victoria from Lylia Rose
Batch cook casseroles, soups. Chilli, Bolognese and tomato sauces, lasagne and any other of your favourite foods. Not only will you save money, you’ll save time too! Raimonda from Cosmo Mum
If a recipe serves 4 and you’re only cooking for two don’t reduce the ingredients – make enough to feed 4 and enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day, or for tea another night. If I’m going to be making the effort to cook a meal from scratch I like to make sure I get at least 2 days’ worth of food out of it!
Eat leftovers for your lunch. Cut back your night-time portions slightly to save enough without spending more. Or bulk meals out with veggies. Katy from Katy Kicker
Food is our biggest expense; with summer holidays coming up, we have the plug in cool box in the boot of the car and always have drinks and food in there. Buying emergency drinks and snacks can cost a fortune when you haven’t thought ahead. They are fab for picnics too! Emma from The Money Whisperer
Usually buy Tesco’s finest? Why not try a product from their regular range. I’m not saying you have to go from Premium Luxury to Tesco Value, but quite often you can downshift without even really noticing a difference in the taste/quality.
I will always buy my tinned goods from the value ranges – you cannot taste the difference and I refuse to pay over £1 for a tin of chopped tomatoes that will be thrown in my spag bol.
We also now buy Mamia nappies instead of Pampers, they are just as good if not better and are a fraction of the price.
Ditch as many branded supermarket goods as you can by switching to own brand products (unless the brand is on offer which makes it cheaper). You can typically save +30% by switching to own brands. Possibly more if you downshift further to the value ranges. Adam from Money Savvy Daddy
I like to buy for Christmas and birthdays throughout the year in the sales! I managed to get all my Christmas wrapping 70% off in the Poundworld Closing down sale, and bits for a halloween party for just £2.78 in their closing down sale! – @mummymanagingmoney
Follow as many Money Savings Bloggers, Deal & Voucher Code websites as you can on social media and set to see them first. I find absolutely loads of great deals and advice daily in my Facebook feed and I have usually finished Christmas, with massive savings by October every year. – Claire at Daily Deals UK
If you’re spending the money and buying the product anyway – you might as well earn some money back! There are lots of cashback apps you can download such as Shopmium, Checkoutsmart and Greenjinn which all offer money back on certain products when you upload a picture of your receipt.
New customers who shop online can get cashback on their first grocery order with cashback website Topcashback and you can also earn cashback with them on your instore shop using their Snap & Save function which works by uploading a receipt for relevant purchases.
Apps such as Shoppix and Receipthog will earn you points which can be converted to cash just for uploading a picture of any receipt.
One of my favourite money saving tips has to be to use cashback sites. We’ve been using them for around three years now and we must be at £1000 in cashback for things we’d buy anyway! I check the sites for everything we buy online – hotels, holidays, insurance, groceries, eBay shopping, energy switches. I’ve even booked MOTS through the cashback sites to get a few quid back! It’s amazing how quickly it all adds up. We get a good chunk every time we switch car insurance and home insurance provider each year. – Victoria from Lylia Rose
If you’re making a purchase always make sure you check if you can get it cheap elsewhere, as well as checking for discount codes and cashback. And don’t forget those loyalty cards either! Tanya from Diaries of Money Mum
Just take the cash you need out with you and leave the debit/credit card at home Fiona from Savvy in Somerset
Always shop with a list… if it’s not on the list, don’t buy it. This doesn’t just apply to food shopping, but to all types of shopping. Eileen from Your Money Sorted
Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot! Don’t buy things you don’t need, buy less of the things you do, swap disposables for reusables, get paid to recycle (e.g. mobile phones) and make homemade compost to grow your own food and flowers! Zoe from Eco Thrifty Living
Instead of using disposable products, look to invest in reusable kitchen items. It may cost slightly more upfront, but you’ll save money over time and it’s more environmentally friendly. Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones, use bamboo cloths for washing up and spillages, and use a sandwich bag instead of cling film. All can be washed and used again, and again. Naomi from Skint Chef
You can save loads of money by growing your own fruit and veg. My top tip is tomatoes. They are very easy to grow and you can use pots or hanging baskets if you don’t have a garden. I don’t pay anything at all for tomatoes from June until October and save myself a fortune as a result! Nick from Pounds and Sense
Educating my kids to be money smart as it makes all our family shopping experience a breeze ie. My kids instantly know that we must have a shopping list based on what we already have in our fridge and cupboards before leaving home.Deborah Sawyerrs’ House
As the schools will close soon, get the kids to help in deciding on snacks to be bought. No use going to get stuff that no one will eat! Jo & Leisa from Joleisa
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about making extra money, saving money, getting my life organised and being a new mum. Join me!