From bagging bargains and notching up loyalty points, to cosy nights in and switching up your shopping, there are plenty of money-saving solutions to repair the damage to your bank balance this January.
While SoGlos’s calendar is bursting with cheap and cheerful events, and our 26 free things to do in Gloucestershire is perfect for freeloading fun, we’ve found 14 penny-pinching ways to save money in 2019.
It may take a little time and effort, but packing a homemade lunch for work is a great way to save those pennies, and it’s likely to be much healthier. Spending £5 a day could amount to a whopping £1,150 throughout the year, while even treating yourself to one lunch per week could reach well over £200.
Handy hack: If the idea of months of boring sandwiches fills you with dread, pick up inspiration for your work lunch on BBC Good Food’s useful website, with recipes for soups, salads, wraps, and plenty of ideas for using up leftovers.
Similarly to enticing eats on the way to work, the lure of steaming coffee is hard to resist on those early mornings, but be aware that the costs can add up quickly. Just a couple of cups a week can reach £300 in a year – the cost of a mini-break in the Cotswolds, for example.
Handy hack: If you do need a caffeine fix, buy a mini cafetière, and some freshly ground coffee and make yourself a perfectly brewed drink when you get to work – trust us, it’ll taste delicious and your bank balance won’t suffer.
Even though it doesn’t feel like much at the time, it’s amazing how much small spends can add up over the course of a week, month, and year. Making note of every purchase can stop the shock when checking your bank balance at the end of the month, when all those £1 and £2 buys have amounted to much, much more.
Handy hack: An easy way to keep record of your outgoings is by downloading a free spending tracker app on your phone, offering the chance to monitor your purchases at the touch of a button.
The first rule of saving, and still the most important, budget is everything. Even if you’re resisting frivolous or luxury purchases such as the latest gadget, designer bag or beauty product, it won’t help if you’re still spending elsewhere. Decide a budget and stick to it as much as you can, with compromise key for success.
Handy hack: Convenient as it is, paying for everything by card is a sure-fire way to notch up unnecessary spends. A simple way to keep on track is by taking out a set amount of cash on a Monday and budgeting your weekly spending, meaning you know just how much you’ve got to play with.
If there’s money sitting in your current account, it’s only too easy to access it and start spending when you’re in the shops or browsing online. To avoid this temptation, move money straight over into a savings account where it’s harder to spend, without logging onto online banking and making transfers first.
Handy hack: Do your research and shop around to find accounts that offer the best interest rates on your savings. Also, make sure to read the small print to find out whether you’re committed to depositing a set amount a month or are restricted as to when you can withdraw funds.
Before hitting the supermarket for your weekly shop, do a bit of price comparison to see where you can bag the best deals. From shopping seasonally and locally, to opting for a cheaper chain, it’s amazing where you can make some savings – not forgetting to keep your eyes peeled for special offers too.
Handy hack: Create weekly menu plans and make a shopping list before you start browsing the aisles aimlessly. Not only will you avoid filling your trolley with unnecessary purchases, it also makes sticking to a healthy diet much easier.
Smoking, alcohol, e-cigarettes, shopping sprees, the list goes on. Giving up expensive habits can quickly help your flailing bank balance, especially over a long period of time. And if you find it difficult to go cold turkey, just cut down where possible – every little helps!
Handy hack: Go retro and get a piggy bank and fill it with what you would usually spend per week on your vice. Even if it’s just adding your spare change every so often, it’ll soon mount up, and you’ll relish counting up the coins to see how much you’ve saved.
Staying in doesn’t have to be boring if you’re in the company of family, friends, and even better, have some fizz and food. But compared to a night on the tiles or at a fancy restaurant, it’s much more economical. Buy a couple of bottles of vino, cook up a tasty meal, or put on a film – perfect ingredients for a cheap and cheerful time.
Handy hack: Netflix and box sets are your best friend when you’re trying to save money, and if you get addicted to a series, which, let’s face it is pretty easy, you’ll definitely want to cancel plans and retreat to the sofa instead.
Whether it’s your commute to work, a weekend trip, or opting for public transport rather than walking, having a think about the most cost-effective way to travel before making the journey. Where possible, walk to wherever you’re going, or when making longer trips, weigh up whether the bus, train or driving is the best value.
Handy hack: If you have no other option than driving to get to work, send out an office email to see if any fellow commuters are looking for someone share the journey with. Alternatively, there are several websites which you can sign up to in order to find people who are looking for drivers to team up with.
Getting regular exercise might be at the forefront of your mind in the new year, but it doesn’t have to involve expensive gym memberships and pricey classes. Instead, go for a walk or jog outside, or invest in some home workout equipment to keep fit in the comfort of your own home.
Handy hack: YouTube is brimming with free fitness videos, whether you want to ramp it up with a HIIT session, stretch out with a yoga, or work your core. Many of the big fitness bloggers also post free live workouts on Facebook, offering the chance to be part of a ‘gym’ community in your living room without spending a penny.
With more and more stores, online shops, and eateries offering loyalty cards and memberships with discounts, it’s worthwhile signing up to receive the benefits. Clocking up points, or receiving discounts and special offers is sure to come in handy, as well as helping you make some great savings.
Handy hack: If you do have a coffee habit that you’re finding it hard to break, don’t pick up your latte without getting your loyalty card stamped. You’ll at least get a free one once you’ve filled up the card, or take advantage of Waitrose’s offer, with free coffee when card holders shop in store.
Books, DVDs, music, and audiobooks can all be borrowed from the library – in person, or online – allowing you entertainment for free, or a minor charge, rather than forking out. With memberships quick and easy to create, it’s a simple saving solution which can make a big difference.
Handy hack: If you have a movie-mad friend or literature-loving colleague, why not suggest a book or DVD swap? Or hit the charity shops where you’ll find shelves brimming with all genres, offering something for everyone.
Whether shopping online or on the high street, compare prices before you buy to ensure you get the best one. From technology and homeware, to clothing and beauty buys, there is likely to be a variation in cost dependent on the shop, not to mention the seasonal deals and special offers which might be available.
Handy hack: If you want to find out where to bag the best deals, there are a range of forums where users post regular updates on the latest offers.
Schemes such as 2-4-1 cinema tickets, set menus, end of season sales, and happy hours are great examples of promotions which your bank balance will love. Keep your eyes peeled for hours, days, and weeks when promotions will be running, to bag the best bargain wherever possible.
Handy hack: While not all restaurants offer vouchers, many of the chain eateries, especially the larger Italian ones, constantly have money-saving deals waiting to be snapped up. If you’re out and about and forget to get a voucher beforehand, it’s now easier than ever to download them on your phone so you can still enjoy dining for less.
By Kathryn Godfrey
Tuesday 01 January 2019
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