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Many of us are looking for ways to save money every month and to widen the gap between the comings in and the goings out. I absolutely love it! I get a real kick out of shaving a few pence (or pounds) off that bill each month or even ditching one completely. And with good reason. The lower my monthly costs are the less reliant I am on my salary.
Now I’ve got a good job! Not the best, but most certainly not the worst. I get paid good money but I absolutely hate the idea of needing my job. I’d much prefer a situation where I am genuinely working for pleasure. Cutting my monthly costs is part of that dream!
Here’s my top 10 ways to do that:
Everyone has bills. Phone bills, electricity bills, water bills. Some of them we might decide that we don’t need and others we have really got to keep. Those that we have to keep, or even those that we want to keep, we really should not be overpaying for.
If you’ve sat and laughed at the Compare the Meerkat ads or had the “Go Compare” song stuck in your head for days but have never actually bothered looking at either site, then more fool you. These websites, amongst others, can save you serious money each month. Have a look at each of your utility bills (electricity, gas, phone/internet) and check to see if you are still in the initial contract period. If not, it is time to save money.
Fill in the details it asks for and see if they can find you a cheaper deal. I bet for most of you they will. And what is even better is that it will be super easy to switch. You just stick your details in and press the button that says switch or something along those lines. That’s likely to be it. No drafting letters to your old supplier to tell them you are leaving. Saving money right there.
You can do the same thing for all your insurances too. Car insurance, house insurance, buildings and contents, life insurance. Find a comparison site, shove in your details and save some money. I do this every year and save a couple of quid here and there. Don’t forget the potential cashback too.
However, for these, you are likely to need to let your previous insurer know that you are leaving them. Otherwise, they will just keep on insuring you and you will be doubled up. Not only will this mean you are paying double, but it could get messy if you need to make a claim. A quick phone call will normally do the trick.
An even better thing to do if you can afford it and it is available is to pay for the whole year in one go. This will always be cheaper than the monthly payments and it means you are all covered for the next year without too much hassle.
If you can’t afford to that you could get a 0% credit card, pay for it on that and then set up a direct debit to have it paid off in the year. (I hesitate to mention this as an option. Using credit cards can be a slippery slope and having them requires excellent self-control. If you can do that then great, if not avoid this and just go for the standard monthly payment option.)
This one is pure gold! Food makes up such a huge part of our monthly outgoings. It was one area that I assumed that I couldn’t save any money on because, you know, I need food! But then I kept reading about meal planning and realised that not meal planning actually leads to lots of waste. I hate waste! I particularly hate wasted food!
Think about it! How do you know what you need to buy if you don’t know what you already have and what you are going to want to eat? You don’t buy other things this way.
Like “I need a new kitchen, but I’ve not really thought about it so I’ll just take a load of cupboards and some worktop. That’ll do!” Or “I’ve got an event coming up and I need a new outfit. Dunno what the event is though so I better get a whole new wardrobe.”
That’s how you end up with stuff you don’t need. Or it’s how you don’t get stuff you do need. Then you end up popping to Tesco Express at 9pm for bread and end up coming back with a large bag of Minstrels, Kettle Chips and reduced-price pork chops and cursing because you forgot the bread.
Meal planning means you get exactly the food you want. You throw less away and you avoid those expensive top-up shops. Take a read of Meal Planning: Top Tips to get started.
If you own a car then you will know how expensive they are to run. And fuel is a huge part of that. Now, this is not saying that you are a bad driver, but there are ways to drive your car that will reduce the amount of fuel you use.
For example, if you treat every set of traffic lights as the start of a race then you could probably save a bit of money here. And you’ll be doing the environment a favour too.
Also plan ahead for your next fuel stop. Don’t let the light come on before you start thinking about where to fill up. Some petrol stations are most definitely cheaper than others and filling up there every time will save you loads. Rather than filling up at a service station because you got caught out (again).
Got a gym membership, but haven’t been in months/years? Still getting one audiobook a month even though you only choose really long books and have about 6 months worth of listening? Or maybe you are paying for Netflix but you’ve got a husband, two kids, a job and a blog and therefore no free time to binge-watch anything these days?
Ditch those subscriptions! Or at least threaten to. Some of these companies will offer you a month free or half price for a couple of months. Therefore even if you don’t want to get rid of it, it’s worth pretending that you do. I read an excellent book that helped me do this, and you can read about it in Tidying-Up Your Finances: How An Unlikely Book Can Change Your Relationship With Money.
Yeah, I know that Apple brings out a new iPhone every other Tuesday. It does not mean that you have to get it. Dare I say it but, it is just a phone. A couple of years ago, when I reached the end of my contract, I realised that my phone was actually OK. What I did then was decided to keep it and went on a 30 day rolling SIM-only contract. It more than halved my monthly payment. And I still have the option to upgrade at any time.
If you’ve 8 teenage kids and are still paying water rates then you probably want to ignore this one. If however there’s you and one small child or you are very good at keeping the amount of water you use to a minimum, then a water meter might be the way forward.
Most people now have a water meter so there is a good chance that you are already on one, but if you are unsure then it might be worth checking. Many water suppliers will offer you some sort of trial period so you can give it a go and see if it reduces your bill. If it doesn’t you can switch back!
When we changed our internet supplier we got given a new landline phone number. It was at that point that I just decided to get rid of it. My husband and I have both got mobiles and the only people who ever rang us on it were our mums. Plus every now and then I would accidentally ring my mum back or something and incur a charge. If you have cable (internet/TV) then you might be able to get rid of your landline completely and avoid the line rental charge. Win!
This one may seem a little out-of-place in this list but I threw it in to get you thinking. I don’t know about you but in my social circle, there is at least one birthday a month. If you’ve got kids and they’ve got friends then it can get a bit ridiculous. I started making greetings cards and I am saving myself up to £2-3 a time. All you need is some blank greeting cards & envelopes, some art and craft supplies and a Pinterest account. I’m not really artistic but the cards I’ve made have looked pretty good. And perhaps this might inspire you to think of other ways to save on gift-giving. Or you can just wait for my blog post on that.
These things might only save you a couple of quid per month. But let’s say that you did everything on this list and saved £2 for each one. That’s £20 a month. Times 12 gives you a saving of £240 this year!! Over 30 years that’s £7,200. And that’s assuming you don’t find further ways to reduce your costs in that time.
Disclaimer: Remember the information you read here does not represent financial advice. Any ideas or suggestions are just that and may not work for you. Read the full disclaimer here.
Looking After Your Pennies is an eco-friendly personal finance blog written and managed by Charlotte Jessop.
I write on a variety of topics including frugal lifestyle, eco-friendly living, money making ideas and generally how to make your money go further.
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