Ten small changes you can make today for big savings tomorrow
The saying ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’ may have lost some of its impact with a £1 coin buying you very little nowadays, but the essence of its meaning still holds true – many small savings can soon add up.
The £1000 Savings Challenge is all about putting aside a pot of money by the end of the year that could be used to make a significant difference in your life, but without you having to make any substantial changes to what you do and what you buy. So let’s take a look at some of the small everyday ways we can alter our spending behaviour to save those pennies up.
Technology can be our worst enemy when trying to save money because it makes it so easy to shop and spend, but it can also be our best friend. There are so many widgets and apps out there that you can utilise to let you know when there are savings to be made. The easiest to use are browser extensions, or apps, which you simply download from the internet and they ‘sit’ on your web browser – normally as a little icon next to the browser bar. These apps automatically detect when you are shopping online and they then pop up on your screen to show you available deals such as vouchers or alternative vendors with better pricing. Try Vouchercodes or Honey to start making savings.
(2) Three weeks on, one week off
Sometimes it’s the small luxuries in life that make it worth living, like that shop-bought hot chocolate with all the trimmings on a miserable winter’s day, or opting to park in the more expensive but so much more convenient town centre car park instead of driving around the back streets trying to find a cheaper space. The £1000 Savings Challenge shouldn’t be about making your life miserable so instead of taking a harsh and perhaps more unsustainable line by denying yourself the little things you enjoy why not just opt to take a break from them once in a while.
For example, why not allow yourself three weeks out of the month to live as you usually do, and then in the fourth week challenge yourself to see what savings you can make by cutting out unnecessary treats. You might find this a lot easier than you think, and you may even discover you don’t mind the cheaper alternatives.
(3) Clip Coupons
This is an oldie but a goodie. Coupons and vouchers are available in good old fashioned hard copy versions on the sides of packets or sent to you as part of retailer loyalty programmes, and they are even more easily located online on dedicated voucher sites. Clip and save so you can use them as needed, or make sure you always check online before purchasing anything if there is a valid current voucher available.
(4) Get paid for being a customer
Cashback websites basically offer you the chance to share in the money they earn by pushing you to a retailer’s website. Commercial relationships exist between online businesses so that if one site generates traffic for another then it can receive a payment for doing so. Cashback sites simply incentivise consumers to go to the sites they want to visit anyway but by going through their website first, such as Quidco which is the UK’s largest cashback site or Boom25 which offers consumers a 1 in 25 chance of getting 10% off your shopping. You get your share of the cash by receiving a discount on any purchases you make. Beware though, don’t sign up to any cashback sites that ask you for more than your email address and never pay to join a cashback site.
(5) Go late
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, and actually works even better now we’re all trying to avoid being in the supermarket when it is really busy. It’s all about what time you choose to do your shopping. If you are able to go to the supermarket late in the evening or even during the night, then you’re more likely to find bargains which the staff will be busy marking down for the next day’s trading. You get all the savings with fewer compromises because you’ll have the pick of the bunch.
(6) Amazon Warehouse
Amazon Warehouse is probably one of the best sites on the internet to get things you need or want at much better prices. It’s basically stocked with goods that have been returned as unwanted (potentially opened but unused and in the original packaging) or sold second hand. Simply search for an item you want to buy and check out if there’s a discounted version of it currently on Amazon Warehouse. It’s very useful for all sorts of things, particularly if you’re in a rush and you can bide your time until what you want becomes available.
(7) The One Pence challenge
If you’re a serious saver you’ve probably heard of this already but might not have had the courage to give it a go. The one pence challenge is based on the idea that you put away 1p on day one, 2p on day two, 3p on day three and so on. By the end of 365 days you will have put away nearly £670 – mind boggling!
(8) Check your tax relief entitlements
More and more of us are working for ourselves as freelancers, and the gig economy is booming. Whilst there are many advantages from this for many people it does mean that you have to be very careful about making sure you take advantage of all the tax relief entitlements afforded to you. If you are at all unsure about what qualifies for tax relief take some time to look at the Government advice on the HRMC website.
(9) News Aggregation
Magazines and newspaper sales have been falling for many years now, but in the UK we still buy nearly 400million magazines a year and spend nearly £3billion a year on newspapers. Whilst the internet offers us access to a plethora of news sites for free it seems we still like to buy or subscribe to our preferred news outlets and enjoy articles in our favourite magazines. But you can save money without compromising where you get your news. News aggregation services such as Apple News and Feedly offer free access to a trial or simplified version, and then a monthly fee is charged if you choose to continue with a premium service giving you access to content which is usually behind a paywall. If you want to read widely but also want to keep the costs down, sites like these could represent really good value for money for you.
(10) Turn off the lights
Well, we don’t want you to live in darkness and we certainly don’t want you turning the heating off making you freeze during cold weather, but if you’re in the habit of leaving unnecessary lights on and dormant devices plugged in be aware that the cost of feeding these electricity can add up. This tip is really just about being mindful to switch off sockets when not in use – save money and save the planet.
If you’re interested in finding out more about saving and investing check out our new magazine ‘Fixed’ which has loads of tips and hints about how to save cash.