As we all unfortunately know, money does not grow on trees. It’s therefore important to make sure that we save money wherever we can, either because things are already tight, or to help us weather the storm when things do get a little more austere.
So whether you’re currently struggling to make ends meet, or you’re looking to prepare yourself for unplanned eventualities in the future, here are some tips on how to make your money go further.
If You Don’t Need It, Don’t Buy It
For some people, it can be hard to go to the shops without bringing something new home. However, if you are trying to cut down on your spending, it is important to not waste your money on unnecessary items.
It’s unlikely that you really need to buy new clothes, just find something else in your wardrobe. Unless they’re all chipped, you don’t need to buy new plates for your kitchen. You don’t need to buy a new TV until it’s broken, the one you have will work just fine.
Apart from essentials like food, drinks, medicines, and fuel there is little that we actually do need to buy regularly. So if you suddenly don’t have any money coming in, you can make huge cut backs by simply asking yourself “do I need it” before you make any purchase.
Bulk Buying and Understanding Cash Flow vs Cost
If you’re living paycheque to paycheque, this tip isn’t particularly helpful. So if this is you, you may want to skip to the next one. Although, as you find other ways to cut back, you may find you can begin to use it.
In the world of business, it is said that a company can survive (in the short term) with cash and no profit, but not with profit and no cash. This is because cash is what you need to pay our bills, regardless of whether you’re making a profit.
The same can apply to managing our household expenses. Some money saving tricks involve us spending more cash up front, but spending less money in the long run. For example, buying non-perishable products in bulk when they’re on offer will require more cash up front but save money later on since you will have bought several weeks/months supply at a lower price.
This can also be helpful when you’re trying to assess which sized product to buy. For example, tea bags can come in boxes of different quantities. However, supermarkets also write to “cost per bag” or “cost per 100g” on the price tag. By comparing these you can see which one is cheapest.
While a box of 500 tea bags might cost more in cash, you’ll be buying them half as often as a box of 250.
Use Comparison Services
In the past, if you wanted to compare prices from different businesses you’d have to call them up individually or visit their stores. Now, we can use price comparison and review websites for most products, making it much easier to save money.
In the UK, sites like Money Super Market and Confused.com can be used for comparing insurance, energy bills, bank accounts and credit cards, helping you to get the best deal.
It’s not just financial products though. You can compare different online casinos through sites like Oddschecker, while Google Shopping and Kelkoo can find you the price of different consumer goods.
By using comparison sites like these you can be sure you’ll always get the best deal.
Use Vouchers and Coupons
You may have seen TV shows about extreme couponing, where (mainly American) people use coupons to get many products for free and cheaply. Vouchers and coupons are not quite as exciting as that in the UK, although it is still possible to get free and discounted products.
The key thing to remember is that you should only use vouchers for products you’d buy anyway. It’s not actually a saving if you spend money you wouldn’t have otherwise.
You can find vouchers on popular money saving websites like MoneySavingExpert.com and community sourced sites like HotUKDeals. They will also typically cover vouchers, coupons, and promotions for just about everything including food, cosmetics, electrical goods, days out, casino welcome bonuses, and gyms.
You can also use apps like Shopmium and CheckoutSmart, which are like a 21st century equivalent to the paper coupon. These apps show you a list of products that you can buy at a discount (or for free). To use them, you buy the product like normal and then scan the receipt in the app. If you use them regularly, you can get several hundred pounds of free products each year.
Regrow Vegetables at Home
Once you have cut up certain vegetables, you can regrow them at home. Some are easier to do than others, but it can be a good way to get something for nothing.
The easiest vegetable to regrow is the spring onion. Simply keep the white end from the bottom and place it in a small amount of water so that the roots are covered. Leave it in sunlight (such as on a window sill ), and watch it start to grow.
You’ll start to see the green stem grow in just 24 hours, and it can take a week or so to get a full length onion. After a few days you can transfer the onions to soil, but this is not necessary as they’ll grow with just water and sunlight.
The only downside is that spring onions are less dense when they’re regrown, so you’ll need to cook with two or three where you normally need only one.
Other vegetables that can be regrown include:
Potatoes and sweet potatoes
It is also possible to regrow pineapples, but these are incredibly delicate and can take around two years to fruit.
Set Aside Some Fun Money
This isn’t applicable to everyone, especially if you currently have no income. However, if you are trying to live frugally during prosperous times, having a small budget of “fun money” set aside each month can make it much easier.
This can become your discretionary spending, and will be the money that you can use for cinema tickets, meals out, day trips, or buying things that you really want. It should be big enough for you to have fun each month, but also be small enough so that you are saving plenty of money still.
You can be creative with how you spend it too. If you use vouchers and other money saving techniques you can make your fun money stretch further.
It can be difficult when trying to live frugally. Especially if you have to make big changes to your lifestyle. Hopefully, you can make these changes when things aren’t tight, in which case you can do them more gradually.
However, if you’re having to slash your spending due to a sudden fall in income you can turn them into good habits that will serve you well for many years.