I have always been fairly poor with money. I don’t generally go beyond my means, but I don’t have any form of savings, my overdraft is maxed to the limit and so is my credit card, as is the husbands. We were incredibly lucky to receive money from a family member which allowed us to get a mortgage, otherwise we would have never been able to have a house of our own.
Since buying our house last September, we have had to really work on how we spend our money. Before buying a house, I lived above my workplace, so whilst having a healthy salary, we had no household bills. We had to pay council tax and I had to pay slightly more tax. We paid bills for things we chose to have such as Sky, Internet etc. But that was it. Any repairs went through the business, so we never had to worry about the costs involved if something stopped working or went bang. I don’t think I ever appreciated it enough, and never used the opportunity to save hard. We never watched the pennies whilst food shopping, we ate out all the time, we would go on days out on a whim and never worried about the cost involved. We had lovely holidays, and pretty much had an entire new wardrobe for every one of those holidays! We were able to buy top of the range baby items and had an extravagant wedding. The downsides of ‘living in’ far outweighed the perks after a while though.
With me choosing not to return to work, we have had to pull right back on every element of our spending. Whilst James’ job pays ok, it is less than my salary before. My last maternity pay came in June, so now we have to really concentrate on what we spend to make sure we don’t find ourselves in any financial bother.
Here I am going to shares some tips of the things I have or will be implementing in the near future, to help us spend a bit more wisely, leaving us money for things out of our control and also help us save a little bit. We haven’t been able to have a holiday this year and I hate it! So hopefully, putting all this in place will help us manage our money better to allow us a one next year.
Plan your finances each month
Generally our bills stay the same. But now and again things change slightly, so spend half an hour each month working out all of your incomings and outgoings. That way you feel in total control over what money you have. You never miscalculate, you never forget that you have an extra payment to make, or repayments for something have stopped. Add in those necessary items such as that extra day at nursery for the little ones, or the fact council tax has been paid for the year. It just helps you keep track of everything.
Have 2 separate bank accounts
Myself and hubby put all of our money together. I know that doesn’t work for every couple but personally I think it makes sense. You share everything else, why not your money too? Especially when only one of your is earning. There is no worse feeling that having to ask for ‘hand outs’ from your other half.
Have one account for all of your incomings, and one for all of your outgoings. This way you can transfer the money you can’t touch into an account you cant touch (the amount you work out from doing the above). And stops you accidently spending money that was needed for that little extra direct debit you forgot about. The rest of the money can keep separate and you know where you are for the entire month.
Ditch the cards
This is something I haven’t put in place yet, but I certainly will be. Spending on the debit card is so easy, but how often do you do it without realising you have spent £8 here and £20 there. Before you realise, you have gone way over that weeks budget and spend the rest of the month catching up. Take out a specific amount each month, and separate it into 4 envelopes (one for each week!) And that is your money for that week. You will think much more carefully about buying things when you are dibbing into your weeks money. If something does come up and you spend a bit more than you should, you will simply have to pull back a few quid the next week. If you spend a bit less than your budget one week, you can either treat yourself (or the kids, which is usually the case!) with the extra or pop it back into the bank for a rainy day.
Food shop online
I am newly converted to doing my food shopping online. It is just so convenient. Doing the actual shop itself takes less time than physically walking around a supermarket, and I can get it delivered at a time that suits. As a mum to three young boys, it also takes the stress out of when to shop. It is near on impossible taking all three kids, but as i don’t drive, going when daddy is at home, generally means a taxi to and from, costing an extra £15 each week! That’s £60 a month!!!
I was always concerned about the dates, quality and replacement items, but actually it isn’t that bad. I am currently doing a little online shop experiment so keep your eyes peeled for that post in the next few weeks!
The best part of shopping online is you can save so much money. You have a running total to keep you in check, but doing it online also means you cant browse. Yes, the website throws deals and ‘items you may like’ at you, but taking away all the products you wander past thinking mmm, i fancy that tonight, helps you make a more informed choice on the items you don’t really need.
One thing I have learnt about shopping online though, is have a really well thought out list. As much as taking the browse element away is a positive, it also means you cant walk past a product and think, oh yeah i forgot we need some more of that!
If online shopping is really not your thing, then shop on a full stomach! You strangely don’t fancy that chocolate when you have just had a full meal!
Use a basket
Even though you do a weekly/monthly shop, there are always items you need a bit more regularly (the bread and milk type items!) I have a Morrisons at the end of my road, and I can spend an absolute fortune when i have just popped out for bread and juice!
One way I have managed to cut that back is by using a basket instead of a little trolley.
Whenever I needed to pick up a bottle of
wine juice or pop, I would always use a little trolley to save my arms whilst I was wandering around. But that also meant I would find myself popping things in the trolley for the sake of them being on offer or because I fancied some crisps that night. Using a basket, means I literally buy what i need to without overloading on items I don’t really need. Purely to save my weak little arms!
So there you have my 5 tips to spending better! I hope it helps!
As a little extra here are a few little tricks to help save a few pennies
Empty your pockets
How often does your purse or pocket end up full to the brim with change? And then we get so fed up we spend one particular shopping trip thinking ‘right i am getting rid of this change’.
Each week, empty your purse/pockets into a money box, tin, jar, savings pot. Whatever you choose. You can either make it a tin that you can access in case you find yourself in a bit of ‘situation’ one week or use one of the many cute savings pots you can buy these days. That way you can keep topping it up until it is full! You will be amazed at how much your loose change can amount to! I know of a few people who have those big plastic coca cola bottles. One friend saved all of her £1/£2 coins from January to December. When she counted it all up at the beginning of December she had saved over £1100. Which paid for Christmas! How cool is that?!
Round every outgoing up
When you are working out your outgoings for the month, round everything up! It will make a tiny difference to your monthly outgoings. but eventually will save you an entire direct debit!
For example; Our home/contents/life insurance (whatever it is!) amounts to £107.11 each month. I transfer £108 for that particular bill. It is only 89p per month. Imagine doing that for 10 direct debits each month. In a year, that could pretty much pay that bill for one month! Pennies make pounds people! 🙂
Transfer any leftovers to a savings account
Once you are getting a bit wiser with your spending you will probably find that you have a few pounds left over each month. Instead of (like i most probably would be) thinking ‘i can buy that top now!’ Why not pop it into a savings account. That way, you are adding to your savings a little each month. Which in turn will allow that holiday, or help you pay for the car’s MOT, or help pay for Christmas. I have never realised the importance of savings until now! And once i have got on top of everything. Savings will definitely be high on the agenda!
Create targets and reward achievements
In most things in life, we get rewarded for achieving targets. A certificate at slimming world, a bonus at work, recognition at school. So why not reward your savings achievements? I’m not talking, saving loads then blow it all on a shopping spree. But think about what you are saving for, if it is a holiday for example. Once you have saved a fair bit, why not book a holiday? Most holiday companies allow you to book well in advance for a low deposit. Surely having that holiday to save for will inspire you to spend wiser and save better? And what better way to reward yourself knowing this could be yours next summer?
Happy saving 🙂