Trying to save money is hard and it sucks. I know it sounds incredibly privileged and spoiled, but I want to buy the cute £50 white raincoat I saw today in Topshop without having to think about my bank account. Spoiler; I didn’t buy it. I bought the stupid, sensible work shoes I needed instead.
Part of the reason we moved back to Scotland from Bristol was to save for a mortgage. It feels like a completely unattainable goal at the minute, but I know if we just keep chipping away we’ll get there.
I find saving difficult for so many different reasons. People don’t understand why you don’t want to ‘split the bill’ (I hardly ever agree with this anyway) or go ‘grab lunch’. It all adds up! Then if I say no to things, I get terrible guilt for buying myself anything. Surely that isn’t right? I should be able to spend or save my money how I see fit. The thing with saving is, you need to make sacrifices. This means I need to CHOOSE what I spend my money on, as I can’t have everything.
Anyway, here are a few money saving tips I’ve been using to look after the pennies.
Monzo are a new online bank that started up in 2015, receiving their banking license in April 2017. In 2016 they raised over £1million through crowdfunding in 96 seconds, after previously crashing a crowdfunding site due to investor demand.
Monzo are currently issuing prepaid cards until they open their current accounts, hopefully later this year. It comes with a fantastic iphone/android app which updates your balance instantly as you spend. You can also use it abroad with no charges, it uses the standard Mastercard exchange rate. I used it on my recent trip to Milan with no issues at all, and the exchange rate was around €1.16 to £1. Much easier than carrying around huge wads of cash.
When I get paid, I work out my ‘disposable income’ for the month – after bills, shopping and savings. I then transfer the money to my Monzo account, and it’s SO much easier to track my spending. Obviously this would be effective with any other bank account, but the Monzo app is brilliant so i’ll be sticking with them.
Help to Buy ISA
The Help to Buy ISA is a great new government scheme for first time house buyers. Anyone who has never owned a property before can open one, which means you and your partner can both open separate accounts. The purpose of the account is to save for your deposit, and benefit from a 25% bonus on the final balance when you are ready to buy.
Most banks seem to be offering these, with differing interest rates – usually 1.5 – 2%pa. You can only pay in a maximum of £200 per month, though your first payment when opening the account can be approx £1,200. We saved the maximum before opening the account in order to benefit from the larger initial payment.
Reduce Your Phone Contract
It costs a fortune for a brand new phone and a contract with enough data to support our social media addictions! As soon as my current phone (Samsung Galaxy S6) was eligible for an upgrade, I paid off the cost of the handset, and changed to a SIM only contract. It is MUCH cheaper with a better package. I’m paying £16 per month with o2, for 20GB data and unlimited texts and minutes. There are even cheaper packages available, but I chose to stay with o2 as I’ve been with them for years.
When the time comes for a new phone, I plan to buy the handset either outright, or on a credit card, and take out another SIM only deal. If you opt to take the handset and contract on a pay monthly deal, you end up paying for a much more expensive contract. Also, from June 15th 2017, you can use your o2 package in Europe at NO EXTRA cost. Bonus.
Pay NO Interest on Cards
There are 2 parts to this one:
I learned this the hard way – you cannot pay off an Argos card with a credit card, or do a balance transfer.
If you reach the end of your interest free period and are still paying it off, the rates are fairly high. What you can do, is consider a cash transfer. This consists of taking out a credit card with good rates on cash transfers, moving the cash into your normal current account, and paying off the Argos card that way. That leads me on to the next part.
Two words – balance transfer.
Don’t leave your credit card gathering interest, and putting you in even more debt, while you desperately try to pay it off. If you are struggling and only making the minimum payments, chances are you are only paying off the interest. A quick search online will find you the best credit card rates, and it’s so easy to balance transfer from one to another.
Balance transferring is the action of moving the balance of one credit card onto another one. The benefit to this, is being able to move your balance around and make the most of 0% interest rates. This allows you to pay off your debt at an affordable rate, without incurring extra debt through interest.
Your car insurance renews automatically every year, handy you might think, but this could be costing you money! When mine renewed last year it had gone up about £10 per month, and I was not impressed. I popped onto a comparison website, and found I could get the EXACT SAME policy, with the SAME company for much less than I was paying. Try Compare the Market for insurance comparisons, if you buy through them they also do 2 for 1 on cinema tickets each week.
I made a quick phone call to the company, and explained what I had found. Got the usual; “oh, we’ve managed to find an excellent deal for you”. A few minutes later and I’d gone from paying £52 per month to £34.
If you don’t ask then you don’t get!
Save ‘Spare’ Cash
I find that I only take cash out of the bank now when I’m going to dinner, or out with friends. A few years ago I realised that I could take £40 out, and come home with £10+ sometimes. I decided then that I would save any ‘spare’ cash I found.
So, all notes and coins leftover from a day/night out, go straight in the piggy bank. That includes; cash you find in a pocket/wallet/purse/bag that you forgot you had. I have a lovely girl who shares my horse and pays a little towards his keep, so I save that money each week too. Sounds simple right? In fairness, this may not work for everyone. Especially if you often spend more than what you take out the bank, or if you prefer cash over cards. However, last year I saved £400 using this method!
There are a million ways to save money, it depends what you are saving for and your circumstances. The above are my methods for saving money and I hope I might find some more! If you have any questions, or would like to share how you save money, then get in touch via email or social media. You can find my contact details at the top right of this page.