Saving money is about cutting back and spending less, but it doesn’t mean you have to become a hermit and live off instant noodles to survive. We all make dozens of purchasing decisions every day and if you can learn to opt for the cheaper alternative (or forgo the purchase entirely), you’ll soon see a difference in your bank balance and be able to save money. And of course, when you choose second hand options, DIY solutions and generally consume less, it also has great knock-on effects for the environment.
By making a few small changes to your daily routines and habits, you can reign in your spending and even save a little money for a rainy day (or an awesome holiday).
The golden rule for spending less
Always ask yourself: “Do I really want this? Do I really need this?” If the answer is no, then put it back on the shelf. If you’re not sure, try to delay making a decision for a day or two. You may find that essential item no longer feels quite so essential.
Bring Your Own – eating and drinking while out and about
We all love the convenience of takeaway coffee, bottled water and not having to plan our lunches in advance. But we pay for it, too. To save money, try and get into the habit of taking a snack, packed lunch and water with you when you head out for the day. The same goes for work days – bring coffee in a thermos or make it at your office instead of ordering a drink to go.
Cooking and entertaining at home
Teach yourself some easy recipes using blogs and online videos, so that if you’re tired after getting home, you’re more likely to whip up a home-cooked meal than dashing out for takeaway. Frozen leftovers are also great for those evenings when you just don’t feel like cooking.
When organising to catch up with friends, suggest dinner parties or picnics instead of meeting up at restaurants. If everyone brings a tasty dish they’ve prepared, you’ll have a delicious homemade feast to share, and you’ll even save money.
Mobility – try the 2 km/7 km rule
Need to go somewhere? Choose to walk if the distance is under 2 km, ride a bike if it’s 7 km or less and opt to drive or use public transport if you have to travel further. This habit is also great for getting your steps in, boosting your general wellbeing and reducing your carbon footprint.
To save even more money, do the bulk of your grocery shopping at discount supermarkets. Only head to the pricier shops to get specialty items. Plan meals and write a shopping list before heading out – this will ensure that you only buy what you really need and can avoid throwing out food that has gone off.
After loading up your cart with goodies, don’t click “buy” immediately. If you wait a day or two, you may realise you don’t want, or need, to make the purchase after all. Half the fun of online shopping is browsing and adding items to wish lists and shopping carts. To save money, treat online shops like Pinterest: inspirational mood boards where you can store lists of lovely things without actually having to follow through and immediately part with your cash.
Rationalise your subscriptions
Make a list of all the services you’ve signed up for and ditch any you hardly ever use. Think online magazines, music and film streaming, as well as offline subscriptions like fitness studios, on-demand TV and food boxes.
Hygiene and beauty – DIY and generic brands
Wax your own legs, paint your own nails and, if you’re brave enough, cut your own hair. To save money, buy generic versions of everyday products like toothpaste and shower gel and ask yourself whether you really need 5 different types of moisturiser.
Choose second hand – clothing, furniture, whitegoods, electronics, etc.
Quality second hand items will outlast fast fashion, cheap inferior whitegoods and flimsy bargain-basement furniture. Tap into the online second hand market (eBay, social media groups, etc.) and score great bargains on stuff that’s like new. Refurbished electronics and whitegoods usually come with a one-year warranty and cost around half as much as unused products.
Repair stuff instead of chucking it
Yes, this takes more time and effort than simply hitting the shops, but even paying someone else to repair your clothes and electronics etc. is often cheaper than replacing high-quality items. You’ll save money in the long run and prevent products with minor defects ending up in landfill.
Shop during sales and out of season
If you love shopping, wait until there’s a sale on and avoid spontaneously popping into your favourite shops on the way home from work. Better still, buy out of season. It may seem crazy to try on winter coats in the middle of summer, but it’s worth it if you get a great price.
Reduce your energy and water consumption – and your bills
Using resources sparingly can really add up, meaning you can save money in the long run. Switch to LED light bulbs, turn off the lights when you leave the room, take 5-minute showers and only run the dishwasher or washing machine when they are properly full.
Borrowing books (and e-books!) from the library will help you save money and avoid making impulse book purchases on your e-reader. You can even borrow one free e-book a month for your Kindle if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
Free events and entertainment
Follow galleries, festivals and museums on social media and sign up to their newsletters. This way you’ll be among the first to know about fabulous free events.
Shop around for the best price: internet, phone, insurance and banking contracts
Make it a habit to annually review your options and make sure you’re getting the best (and cheapest) deal. If you’re paying monthly fees to a traditional bank, for example, you could consider switching to an online bank like N26 that doesn’t charge anything for a standard account. A simple way to save money, and an easy way to streamline your day-to-day.