How much money have you spent this week?
Chances are, you don’t actually know.
One of my fondest memories of my Gran is the fact that at the end of every day, she’d take out a tiny notebook and pencil from her handbag, (which always smelt of Chanel No 5), and she’d write down every penny she had spent that day. Even when she had plenty of money, she never relaxed that control. She wasn’t tight – she was very generous in fact – but she just liked to know.
We don’t do this so much these days do we? Relatively, we’re so much better off than we were when my Gran was bringing up a young family, and that’s obviously a good thing, but it does seem to mean that we’ve lost that ability to control day-to-day spending quite as efficiently.
It’s time to go retro with your finances, recapture that post-war budgeting spirit and save some pennies.
As part of my current project with NatWest Money Clip, and with the help of some chums from Twitter, I’ve put together some money saving ideas for you. Tackle all of these tips and I guarantee you’ll soon build up a decent stash of spare cash. For more ideas, check out the NatWest hub on The Telegraph – it’s packed full of practical advice and tips to help you reduce your bills and save money.
Use cash rather than cards
My Gran always had a wodge of cash in her purse and although it was a bit of a fond, family joke, there was a lot of sense in it. Having to hand over physical cash, and seeing it disappear with every purchase, will make you think twice before splashing out on frivolous, impulse purchases.
Search out the best deals and discounts
There’s no excuse nowadays for not shopping around, and a quick online search before a significant purchase can often save you pounds. Search for money off or special offers on takeaways and popular restaurants to save cash on tea time treats.
@mummyblogger Vouchers, coupons and discount codes…scour the net it really does work!
— Simply Baby Names (@simplybabynames) February 3, 2016
Think before you buy
Even if it’s just for ten minutes, it can make all the difference.
Review your regular expenses
There are some regular expenses that are beyond our control, but others, like insurance premiums, utilities and phone tariffs, are more flexible, so it’s always worth reviewing your current services to see if you could save money.
Reduce your heating bills
Heating your home is important – no one loves being cosy more than me – but there are plenty of ways to stay just as warm without it costing quite so much. Check out these tips to help reduce your heating bill.
Plan your meals
And don’t go shopping when you’re hungry!
@mummyblogger buy value everything, except coffee because my kids still need a functioning mother
— Hannah Earnshaw (@RisingOutOf) February 2, 2016
Buy in bulk
But only if it’s actually good value and something that you will use. Don’t be sucked in by buy one get one free offers that you don’t really need, only to end up having to chuck food away.
Write it down
When you want to moderate your eating, keeping a food diary is helpful, and the same applies to money. The very fact of having to write it down makes you think twice about splashing out on things you don’t really need.
If you’ve not jumped on the Aldi/Lidl bandwagon yet, then what are you waiting for? The choice might be a little more limited, but the cheap fruit and veg and vast selection of cold meats will more than make up for it.
Buy own brand medications
I just did a quick search on the Boots website – 16 basic Nurofen tablets are £2. 16 Boots value ibuprofen tablets are 35p. The difference? Absolutely nothing. Do not be fooled.
Get a certificate for prescriptions
If you buy more than one prescription medication every month, it’s worth getting a 3 or 12 month prescription prepayment certificate. If you have just two prescriptions a month, a 12 month certificate will save you £90 a year.
Say no to 0870
Do you get fed up with having to pay for the privilege of phoning up a company to ask a question or register a complaint? 0870 numbers are pricey, but most companies have alternatives phone numbers that are lower cost but not widely publicised. Check out ‘say no to 0870’ to see if you can save money.
Look for free parking
Don’t be sucked into expensive parking when there may be free parking nearby. Parking a little bit further away can save you money and means you get a little extra exercise too, which can’t be a bad thing.
Find the lowest petrol prices
Petrol prices have fallen below the pound per litre mark in lots of places for the first time in years, but there is still a lot of variation in cost between filling stations. Luckily, there are plenty of ways now to seek out the best value. This website helps you locate the lowest priced petrol in your area.
Check your tyre pressure
Under-inflated tyres can increase your fuel costs by 2-3%, so invest that 50p next time you’re putting petrol in and pump up your tyres.
Switch your bank account
In the same way that you can shop around for cheaper utility bills, it’s worth reviewing your current account to see if it’s offering you the best deal. With the NatWest Reward current account you earn 3% back in Rewards on council tax, gas, electricity, water, phones, TV and broadband paid by Direct Debit.
Install a water meter
If you feel like you’re not massive water users, definitely look at getting a water meter installed. Apart from anything else, it gives you much more control, and means you can take steps to reduce your water bills.
Cut your train costs
Trains in the UK are far from cheap, and it can be incredibly frustrating just how much fares vary depending on the route and the time of the day. There are lots of ways you can save though, including booking in advance and split ticketing. Here are some tips to get you started.
Take a packed lunch to work
I know, I know, making a sandwich at 7am is really the last thing in the world that anyone wants to do, particularly me, but it really does save you money. Even if you go budget and spend just a few pounds a day on a sandwich, that’s over £60 a month you could potentially save.
What are your favourite money saving tips?
Image credits – Roobcio, 06photo, releon8211 – all from shutterstock. The NatWest Reward current account is available for £3 per month to UK residents aged over 18 only. Payments for services like maintenance, repairs and insurance won’t earn Rewards. You will also earn at least 1% Rewards on debit card spend at NatWest’s Partner retailers and 1% Rewards on contactless debit card payments until 31/12/16.