Ten Tried and Tested Cash Hacks
It's always a good idea to watch the pennies, but there's no better time than this time of year. So we've teamed up with Young Money Blog’s Iona Bain to bring you her top money saving tips for the chilly months ahead.
1) Set aside budgeting time: The secret to better budgeting? Make time for it. Schedule a proper bank audit twice a month: Saturday morning is a good time for most. Go through every item you’ve bought over the previous two weeks and you’ll start noticing regular patterns – e.g. wine o’clock! Set helpful reminders on your phone to rein in those OTT moments. You’ll also quickly spot direct debits you no longer use, duplicate payments or fraud.
2) Save with railcards: If you’re 26 – 30 years old, you can save money on journeys with a “millennial railcard”, which cuts a third off standard anytime, standard off-peak and advance fares. You can also load the discount onto an Oyster card to save a third on single off-peak journeys across the whole London Underground network.
3) Cut back vices for a good cause: From going dry to trying veganism, there’s loads of ways changing your behaviour can do more than just save you cash. You could also press the pause button on things like smoking or takeaways and meals out to save money. Telling others will help you to be accountable - try asking them to sponsor you for a cause close to your heart.
4) Batch and slow cook: Especially good for the colder weather, invest in a slow cooker to rustle up hearty but low-cost meals like stews, pasta Bolognese, curries and chilli con carne. Bonus points for using cheaper cuts of meat and leftovers! Batch cook at the weekend or quickly fry up your ingredients in the morning and chuck them in the slow cooker to cook on a low heat while you’re at work. Voila: an instant meal waiting for you when you get home.
5) Reuse, refill: When was the last time you really savoured a latte? Most of us buy coffee because we’re in the habit or it’s just… there. Rediscover the novelty - and pleasure - of coffee by making it less of a crutch and more of a treat. Even if you buy two fewer coffees each week, that’s a saving of around £20 a month – or £60 extra by the end of the year. At the very least, take a reusable cup wherever you go – you can save approximately 50p in most coffee shop chains this way, and it’s so much better for the environment too. Opting for filter coffee as opposed to more expensive lattes will help make further savings.
6) Raid your wardrobe: We all have clothes at the back of the wardrobe we’ve forgotten about. Ditch fast fashion and challenge yourself to wear what you already have for two months rather than buying anything new. Women can ‘winterise’ a lot of summery outfits with tights and your local dry cleaners might even be able to perform simple, cheap alterations for gear that’s not quite right. If you really do need a few wardrobe updates, comb the charity shops in posh areas.
7) Get back to beauty basics: My rule when it comes to skincare and make-up products? One in, one out. There’s a galaxy of cosmetics and beauty products out there but do you use up the products you already have? This also forces you to face up to any mistakes and stick to what works. You may not want to economise on everything but so many things like cotton buds, facial wipes, soap, cleanser and lip balm are rarely improved by being more expensive.
8) Digitally detox: Setting aside time each day where you don’t look at a screen isn’t just good for your mental health: it works wonders for your bank balance too. Instagram now provides a tool to let you see how long you spend on it and there are lots of website and app blockers now available. The more time you spend off your phone, the more productive and confident you’ll be – which ultimately reduces boredom buying or pick-me-up splurges.
9) Car share: Having your own car is expensive, but if you join a car sharing club like Zipcar you can use their cars and vans whenever you need them. Zipcar is the UK’s largest car sharing service, with 3,000 vehicles just around the corner, and using them can save you up to 50 per cent compared to your own car.* Once you join online, it takes just a few taps on the app and you’re driving - you can even drive some of them one way in London. And they’re reasonable too: they pay for fuel, insurance and things like congestion charge, and you can get around from £3/hour or 29p/minute, depending on the car. For those who want to be environmentally friendly, Zipcar’s 325 electric vehicles are ideal, and the charging is all done for you.
10) Upcycle: If you are moving into a new place, it’s likely you’ll need furniture, but the price of brand-new items can be costly. Reduce the strain on the environment and your finances by upcycling items others have taken to junk markets or charity shops. This may seem daunting at first but think of all those helpful videos online with instructions on how to strip and varnish wood, give furniture a new lick of paint or customise with a fresh design. Get crafty: check out Pinterest for inspiration and you could end up with a unique piece that is the envy of your friends (and followers!)