This article contains paid-for content created in collaboration with The Zebra.
Saving money is far from easy – especially when you have high bills to pay every month. However, if we constantly spend without a saving goal in mind, we’d never go on that dream holiday, buy a timeless handbag or purchase our own house.
So, whether you have long-term or short-term saving goals, you’ll need to start somewhere. And to help you get into the swing of budgeting, we’ve listed some top tips to help you live smarter and save more.
1. Cut down on food shopping
Are you guilty of going to your local supermarket store with a grumbling belly? If so, you’re committing the biggest error. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to purchase foods that you don’t need. So, to help you cut back on added expenses, create a weekly meal plan and only buy items that are needed to create the meals on that list. According to the BBC, ‘planning ahead can trim 50% or more from the cost of everyday foods’.
2. Buy generic products
The only good thing about the more expensive products is the marketing, but when it comes to the items itself, generic and shop-branded goods are equally as good as the more famous (and expensive) ones. So, next time you reach for [insert brand name here], think about whether those extra pennies will really make a difference.
3. Cancel automated subscriptions
In all likelihood, you’re probably paying for subscriptions that you’re not even using, whether it’s a fitness app, a music streaming service or Netflix and Amazon Prime. To start saving money, take a closer look at your outgoings and cancel any subscriptions that aren’t essential.
4. Automate your savings
If you’re not already automating your savings, it’s time to start! By setting up a direct debit, you won’t have to worry about the amount that you’re tucking away each month. To help you find the ideal automated saving figure based on your salary, use the 50/30/20 budget and start saving from the moment you receive your next paycheque.
5. Unsubscribe from emails
Email subscriptions do a great job of luring us into big purchases with amazing discounts and bargains – but, really, you’re just spending money you don’t have on items you don’t need. To stop spending sporadically, unsubscribe from all emails to cut the temptation.
6. Make your own lunch
Ordering out every day for lunch can rack up without you even realising it! According to the Bureau Labor of Statistics, the average household in the US in 2018 spent $7,923 on food per year. To help you save money fast, cut back on eating out and start prepping your own meals at home. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save in a short space of time!
7. Use discount codes
You can usually find discount codes online for just about anything from theatre tickets and food coupons to online retailers and auto insurance to travel and hospitality services. To help you save on your spending, do a quick Google search for any available discount codes before you make your next purchase!
8. Pay in cash
It’s easy to overspend when you’re paying by card – especially if you have all your funds in one account. So, to help you keep a check on what you’re spending, start paying for things in cash. You won’t be allowed to overspend when you only have a certain amount in your pocket. You can even take it one step further by separating your cash into weekly allowances – leaving no room for any unexpected purchases.
9. Only purchase necessities
This seems obvious, but it’s something we all often forget. If you’re trying to cut back on your spending and save some money, you’re also going to have to curb your spending habits. If you really don’t need something to get by, avoid buying it for now. I know it’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting materialistic items, but unless it’s bringing great value to your life, you can probably do without it.
10. Do more DIY
Do you have jobs that need doing around the house? Instead of calling a professional, try following an online tutorial or ask a friend or neighbour for help. You’ll end up saving a lot of money, and you’ll feel a lot more satisfied once you’ve managed to fix something yourself.
11. Cut back on coffee
Getting coffee from your favourite coffee shop is such a treat! But more often than not, we end up ‘treating’ ourselves quite a few times a week and, eventually, it turns into a daily habit. According to financial expert Suze Orman, ‘you are peeing $1 million down the drain as you are drinking that coffee’. Instead, she advises investing that money into an individual savings account that will give you a return investment.
12. Skip holidays abroad
When your goal is to save money, there’s nothing worse than planning a holiday abroad. Instead of spending on a trip, save that money and try a staycation – you can still relax and do touristic things in your own country, without the added expense of travelling overseas.
13. Sell things you haven’t used in six months
If you haven’t used something in six months, it’s likely you will never use it. To help you declutter, free up some space and get some extra cash, have a good clear-out and sell items that you don’t really need. With websites and apps like Depop, Facebook Marketplace and eBay, you can easily sell your second-hand goods for a reasonable price.
14. Change bank accounts
Many banks offer cash and additional perks for opening an account with their branch. So, if you’re looking for the best interest rates and benefits, use a comparison website to find the ideal account for you and take full advantage of the saving options that they offer.
15. Master the 30-day rule
If you’re wondering what the 30-day rule is, wonder no more! Let’s say that you really want to purchase a new handbag, wait 30 days before making the splurge. If you’re still thinking about it after that period, then you should make the purchase. If not, you’ve saved yourself from wasting money on an item that you probably didn’t really want.
16. Set short-term goals
Setting a short-term and achievable goal can help you save in smaller amounts. For example, if you have five months to save for a holiday, you’re more likely to be strict and cut back on spending to ensure you reach that goal. So, to help you be consistent with saving, keep setting yourself short-term goals that you can achieve.
17. Save your coins
You’ll be surprised at the sum that spare coins amount to. Any time you have change lying around, throw it into a piggy bank and count it at the end of a year. Once the year is up, bank any money that you’ve saved, and allow it to gain interest in your account.
18. Have a spend-free week
Freeze any spending for an entire week every month and jot down how much you save. This means cutting back on impulse shopping, takeaways and online orders. For an entire week, try to just purchase petrol and supermarket food only to keep you going!
19. Save all your windfalls
It’s easy to spoil yourself when you’ve received a bonus at work, but instead of splashing out on a luxury item, invest your money wisely! Likewise, if you’ve suddenly won or inherited some cash, tuck it away for a rainy day.
20. Reduce energy costs
Electricity is one of the most expensive household bills and is often a killer every time it rolls around. So, to help cut your energy consumption, invest in LED bulbs and ensure your plugs and lights are turned off when you’re not in the room.
Now that you’re armed with these useful tips, you can stop the cycle of living paycheque to paycheque and actually have some funds to fall back on when you need them.
What’s your go-to tip from the list above? Join the conversation below and share your money-saving habits with us.