Christmas is over and while we’ve enjoyed the festivities with family and friends, it’s likely our pockets are feeling a bit empty after an expensive time of year. From the cashmere jumper bought for Grandma to the large turkey for lunch, the Christmas period has likely put quite the strain on your bank account. So how do we come back from such a financial burden?
The idea of saving money is always good in theory, but when we don’t know where to start, such a task can be very difficult to persevere. There is also the worry that we will have to make huge changes to our daily lifestyle. To put your minds at ease, here are 5 simple and useful ways that are guaranteed to save you money in the new year:
Spring Clean and Sell
If you have a garage you’ve been meaning to tackle for years or an attic piled with old items that you told yourself you were keeping for the grandchildren, it may be a good time to have an early spring clean and sell some items. There are lots of online sites you can use to quickly shift items. There's the obvious selling platform, Ebay, where you can sell designer clothes or merely just nick knacks that you might have forgotten about in the back of your cupboard. But there are now also other second-hand selling sites and apps that allow buyers to search for items based on location, such as Depop, Shpock, Gumtree and Preloved. All of these sites are super easy to use, so set up an account and start selling – no prior experience required!
Tip: To generate maximum interest in your items it's important to consider how you present them. Make sure they are in good condition and clearly photographed in nice lighting. Also ensure that you show potential buyers any faults from the get go. This way you will become a trustworthy seller that people will come back to.
Make Small Changes for a Big Difference
Ever heard the saying, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves? Well, it's actually a really good point. Small changes in your day to day expenses can amount to noticable savings in the long run and require little effort. Here are some examples of how little alterations can make a big difference:
Stop grabbing that enticing £4 meal deal and pack your lunch from home. Making your own sandwiches and using a water bottle is often healthier and will save you at least £20 a week
It sounds simple, but switch off lights in your house to rooms you’re not using as these bills start to rack up without you even noticing
Cut out small luxuries such as the box of chocolates in the weekly shop or the convenient take-away
Shop for food in the reduced sections, plan meals rather than buying ‘as and when’, and cook in bulk so you can freeze meals
Compare Supermarket Prices
Although it may be easy to go to your nearest supermarket, it may not be the most cost effective and the same foodstuff you are buying at one shop could be on offer, or 50p cheaper, somewhere else. The best thing to do is to research a little bit before your weekly shop. MySupermarket is really useful for comparing prices across stores, product by product.
As well as comparing supermarket prices you could try some own-brand products, especially for condiments and tinned goods as these are considerably cheaper and often no different in taste or quality. By cutting out premium brand items from your shop you could save about £10 a week. In a year, that would be £520 less on your food! Even if you are a massive foodie, just by spending a bit of time tasting different alternatives you will be sure to find many cheaper options that you are satisfied with, without sacrificing the quality of your meals.
Start Collecting Coupons
A couple of generations ago, couponing was a popular way of saving money, especially after the war. This has led to an assumption that now, only our grandparents or poorer households still collect these little paper vouchers. However, this is not the case, so before you scorn at the idea of couponing, there are actually many reasons that show coupon collecting to actually be very cost effective. Many coupons at supermarkets are based around the items you commonly purchase which makes the savings extremely beneficial for your weekly shop. Coupons are not just for buying food items but can provide discounts on clothes, household items and even overnight stays. It is now possible to collect coupons online which can help reduce prices on both online stores and mobile apps. Keep a look out in your local newspapers and magazines for coupon clippings as you never know what deals you may come across. If you have never collected coupons before, MoneyCrashers offers lots of tips and tricks for newbies.
Make a Weekly Budget and Stick To It
Developing a budget that is realistic is a very useful way to keep on top of all your outgoings and working out where you spend the most. The easiest way to start is by first calculating all the necessary expenditures: bills, school fees, petrol, taxes, etc. Then, you can determine how much you want to spend on the weekly food shop which will probably vary, depending on how many people are in your family. Once you know how much you are spending throughout the week and month, you can be more conscious of any extras you want to spend and try to keep all of these within the budget you have set. While it is vital that you create a budgeting plan that you know you can stick to, MoneyAdviceService offers a simple and clear template where you can track all of your expenses.
For more advice on how to manage your money better in 2019, check out our post on the 7 Best Finance Apps For Managing Bills and Finances.