Do you feel like your salary doesn't quite reach the end of the month? Do you sometimes find yourself in need of stretching your money? Here are 22 ways to do it!
1. Use coupons and discount codes
This goes for both online and offline purchases, but if you're buying clothes, technology, and other such items that regularly have discount codes online and coupons, then use them! Five minutes of your time spent googling a discount code can result in up to a 20% discount. And save up those coupons you get in stores, like Tesco and Boots; you may not be planning on making a purchase tomorrow, but they're usually good for several months, and you could use them on a future purchase. No one does deals and coupons better than Money Saving Expert!
2. Create a budget
This one's a no-brainer, but a budget is a must. Budgeting is all about figuring out what's coming in, what's going out, and how much you can afford to spend in any given month. You should have a total budget - what you're allowed to spend per month, in total, and a mini budget for each category: groceries, transportation, small indulgences, etc.
3. Wait for/look for sales
Unless you need something urgently, you are better off waiting for the item you want to go on sale. That goes for virtually anything, from appliances to that phone you want the pair of shoes you can't stop thinking about. Be strategic about your purchases and pay attention to the cycle of sales and discounts shops offer - a lot of them are regular and they follow a certain schedule. If you can pin it down, you never have to pay full price for anything ever again!
5. Don't buy in bulk
3 for 2, Buy 4 and Get 5 or any other multiple item purchase offers are meant to trick you into buying things you don't need and spending more money than you'd intended to. Unless you have a large family or you need multiples of the same thing NOW, then you don't need to buy anything in bulk, even if you technically get a discount. If you want to take advantage of the offer, pair up with some of your friends, buy the items together, and split the cost.
6. Do as many free activities as you can
Most people don't stop to think about how many things they pay for that can be done for free. You don't have to purchase books, when you have a library card. You don't have to pay a gym membership, when you can go running for free. You don't have to pay for a painting class when you can do it at home or learn on Youtube. Same goes for university modules - do you know how many lectures are available online?
7. Reduce impulse buying
Most of us struggle with impulse purchasing. It's hard to resist the urge to buy and allow logic to prevail. Not only when you're in line for the tills and you're looking at all the impulse purchase items lined up, but also in situations when you go grocery shopping on an empty stomach or go on a shopping spree when you're upset. You can curb this kind of behavior by making lists of what you need to buy and adhering strictly to them. If necessary, only take with you the amount of money you need. From Pennies To Pounds has the tips you need to cut back on these unnecessary expenses.
8. Treat bonuses as the extras they are
When you get bonuses at work, don't use them for regular expenses and don't just waste them on things you don't need. You should have your expenses covered by your regular budget, and this extra money should be put towards another financial goal you have. Your Money Sorted can show you where to invest.
9. Don't fall into debt quicksand
Debt should be avoided at all cost, but if you do have debt, then it should become a priority to pay it off. The reason for this is that it's a) dangerous and b) expensive. The longer it takes to pay it off, the more you will end up paying in interest, and that is not financially savvy.
10. Don't be afraid of the clearance section
Why pay full price, when you can get things on clearance? Especially if you go shopping near closing time - particularly on Sundays - you will be able to find a lot of your favourites on clearance, and with perfectly respectable states and expiration dates. Fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive, but you can get them at a fraction of the price this way.
11. Look for better deals on phone plans, energy providers, and TV licences
You don't need to get stuck with your existing phone plan if you think you're paying too much. Shop around and see what deals you can get by switching to different providers for energy, internet, phone service, or TV.
12. Plan big purchases ahead of time
The sooner you plan a purchase, the cheaper you can get the item. This is true for plane tickets, hotel rooms, and other things you can book in advance, but also for big purchases you may need to shop around for in order to get the best price. The more time you have, the pickier you can be.
13. Cut out unnecessary expenses
No matter what your income or budget is, unnecessary expenses are 100% a drain on your account, and they stop you from using that money in a better way. So sit down and make an itemised list of every thing you've bought this month that you don't need. The total may shock you. The Money Shed can teach you all about it!
14. Buy second-hand when you can
Not everything needs to be brand new! You can buy a used car, used clothes, used books, used appliances and technology, used furniture, etc. We have so many avenues for that now, including sites and apps like eBay, Depop, Shpock, and other similar ones. Charity shops are also great places to find cheap treasures.
15. Look out for free furniture and other objects
When people don't want something any longer, they will put it out on the kerb for someone else to pick it up. You know, one man's trash is another man's treasure. You can especially find furniture this way.
16. Set yourself a goal and a reward
If you want to stick to your budget and not overspend, set yourself a savings goal and a reward for achieving it. That way, you will have a stronger incentive to hold back from unnecessary spending.
17. Replace certain indulgences or luxuries
You know that takeaway coffee you get every day? Replace it with home-made. Same for your lunch, and even nights out drinking with your mates. You can always have them over and enjoy a beer together. The Frugal Cottage knows all about living a more frugal life.
18. Negotiate when you can
We've lost the long-standing tradition of haggling, but we should bring it back. Not at the supermaket, of course, but if you're at the market or buying second hand, you can absolutely negotiate with the owner and try to get a better deal.
19. Pay for your own bills
If you're renting, don't take on a house with bills included. You will end up paying for energy you are not using, and for service providers that your landlord wants. If you pay for your own, you have more control.
20. Use a budgeting or personal finance app
If you're struggling, a personal finance app can help you keep track of your spending and showing you exactly how much money you are spending, and on what.
21. Don't overspend on gifts
We all want to give nice gifts, but gifting is expensive. Consider offering hand-made gifts instead, such as knitted scarves, homemade jam, or accessories.
22. Buy own brand
There is nothing wrong with just basic, own brand groceries. A lot of the time, they're just as good as the more expensive products, they're just in less attractive packaging. Don't be fooled! Be Clever With Your Cash literally shows you how to spend your money more intelligently.