Saving money in these economically hard times is easier said than done. We Brits are often described as a ‘nation of savers’ but research from the Building Societies Association shows that one in seven of us has nothing put by. And almost two-thirds (65%) of people believe they wouldn’t be able to last three months without borrowing money.
But with the savings rates on the up — the best regular savings accounts is now at a lofty 7% — after years of virtually zero percent, there’s real incentive to get organised and find spare cash where you can to squirrel away. Regular saving, whatever the amount, not only creates financial resilience but it improves your ability to cope with unexpected circumstances and life events. Around 44% of those who save regularly were more satisfied with their life as a whole, according to a Money & Pension Service’s Financially Wellbeing survey.
Check out our tried and tested money-saving tips, tricks and tactics and you'll be amazed at just how much you can squirrel away.
1 Save first, spend later
Pay yourself first. Around 60% of us save money either every, or most, months, according to research. If you are struggling, try using the 50/30/20 approach to budgeting. This means allocating 50% of your take home pay on your needs (bills, food, minimum debt payments), 30% on wants (eating out, leisure, sport, etc) and 20% towards the future you (saving for emergencies, short term and long term goals). This split may not work for you when money is tight, so simply adjust the ratios as you go.
2 Don't pay interest on debt
If you've got card debt, sit down and make a plan for how to get rid of it and by when. Don't panic if you haven't got a handy lump sum to magic away the full amount. You can achieve the same end result by transferring the debt on to a 0% balance credit card to avoid paying interest for a fixed period (typically two years or more) and paying off a set amount every month within that timeframe.
If you still have debt after the 0% period ends, move to another deal. Some cards come with a small balance transfer fees. Do not use this card for purchases. To find the best 0% balance transfer cards, check out comparison site such as Moneyfacts and MoneySuperMarket.
3 Spend mindfully
It's all too easy to let cash slip through your fingers, especially if you are just tapping a card on a machine. There are various ways to make sure each spend registers with your brain - work out which system works for you:
*Return to cash? Some are using the jam jar method (piggy banking, savings pots, or cash stuffing — as it's called on social media) where you divide your money into separate pots, or envelopes, for different expenditure. This can make it easier to budget, ensuring bills are covered and what money you have goes exactly where you want it to.
*Money-management apps helps you budget digitally by connecting the app to your bank account, analysing your spending, helping you set and achieve savings goals. Check out Plum, Moneybox, Money Dashboard, and Chip. If your accounts are with a digital bank, you will have the same functionality, such as Starling’s Saving Space, Chase’s extra current accounts and Monzo which allows you to organise your money with ‘pots’.
*With prepaid cards, such as Clubcard Pay+, HyperJar and SuitsMe Essential, you load what you have to spend onto the card. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Watch out as some prepaid cards have a monthly fee.
*Set up a day-to-day spending account with its own card at your existing bank and put a direct debit in place to transfer your weekly disposable income on to it.
4 Keep switching!
While it’s not easy to switch gas and electricity suppliers in the current climate, you can still find better deals for broadband and mobile contracts, streaming services and insurance.
In a survey by Topcashback, those who haggled said they had a 39% success rate, saving £155 per person on average, with broadband (59%), phone contracts (55%) and insurance (50 %) proving to be the most lucrative areas.
So use comparison sites to check whether you could bring down the cost of these regular outgoings by switching supplier.
5 Check your workplace benefits
We’re not talking here about your pension or flexible working but the other employee benefits that your company may be offering that could easily pass you by. Now might be a good time to see what you have access to that could help you spend less (and save more). Typical benefits include eye care vouchers, gym memberships, spa access, discount at stores and cinemas near work.
When your fixed term, tracker or discounted mortgage deal has come to an end, you will be switched to your provider’s standard variable rate which will be considerably more than you have been paying. This is the perfect time to take a look at remortgaging and you could save thousands a year. So, talk to your mortgage broker or find an independent mortgage adviser at unbiased.co.uk or vouchedfor.
7 Claim back money with your name on it
From forgotten bank accounts to tax rebates and Premium Bonds, you could be sitting on a pot of gold without even realising it. Find out with My Lost Account. Fill in the online search form to trace lost bank and building society accounts, and lost National Savings and Investments products.
If it’s a workplace pension you are hunting down, use the Government’s free Pension Tracing Service. Misplaced or forgotten about pensions, according to The Association of British Insurers, are now at around £19.4 billion, comprising 1.6 million pots with an average size of £13,000.
8 Don't splurge on payday
Have you noticed how every payday, you get sent emails enticing you to celebrate with a money off discount in your favourite restaurant or coffee shop, or enticing you to spend with special pay day deals and discounts? Use these judiciously to help you save money that you are already planning to spend, but resist the impulse otherwise! Research by financial advisers Portafina has suggested that people spend a fifth of their monthly disposable income within 24 hours of receiving it.
9 Shop and earn cashback
This is a no-brainer! If you are buying something anyway, it makes sense to do it either via a cashback website, such as Topcashback or Quidco, or through a cashback credit card. Use it for big ticket items like insurance or buying a new phone and the money soon adds up. Typically you will earn 1.5-2% on your purchases, which could add up to hundreds a year in cash and vouchers depending on your purchasing patterns. Always pay the card off in full every month, otherwise you could cancel out the benefit in interest charges!
Check comparison sites such as Uswitch and Moneyfacts to find the best cashback cards.
9 Entitled to Marriage Allowance?
If you’re married or in a civil partnership, one of you can transfer up to £1,260 of your Personal Allowance to the other. This is just over 10% of the basic £12,570 Personal Allowance for the 2022-23 tax year (the amount of income you don’t have to pay tax on) and would reduce yours or your partner’s tax by up to £252 in the tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year). Find out more at MoneyHelper.
10 Rent a room out
If you have space enough to rent out a furnished room, you could be earning up to £7,500 a year tax free under the Government’s Rent a room Scheme. This is halved if you share the income with your partner or someone else. You don’t need to register for the scheme. If your gross receipts are less than £7,500, it will automatically be tax-free.
11 Do a financial fast
Have a weekly no-spend day or monthly minimal spend week. It’s no bad thing to have the occasional spending detox - not only will your bank account feel healthier for it, it will make you more careful with your cash in the long term. Make this easier by turning off any app notifications you have that are likely to lure you back. Unsubscribe from marketing emails - or set up a separate email account for these so you don't come across them every day - and change the ad settings on your social media accounts (less targeted marketing might just help you skim over what you see).
12 Do you work from the ‘coffice’?
If you are a hybrid worker trying to keep warm by spending part of your day working from a coffee shop or 'coffice', you won’t be saving as much as you think if you are ordering endless coffees when you’re there. It all adds up. While loyalty schemes mean in pretty much all coffee shops, you can earn a free coffee from time to time, Pret’s coffee and hot drink subscription – where you get your first month for £12.50 and £25 after that — is great value. With a cappuccino there costing £3.55 a time, you will have broken even after 7 days!
13 Check out what you are entitled to
Billions of pounds of government benefits and allowances are unclaimed from child benefit and pension credit to council Tax Support and Universal Credit. You can the Entitledto calculator to find out if you’re missing out.
14 Get a free overdraft
Check what you pay for your arranged overdraft and what the limit is. It could be as much as 39.9% when you go overdrawn. If you regularly find yourself in the red, check out the banks that offer free overdrafts up to a certain amount. Nationwide’s FlexDirect account, for example, offers a 0% overdraft for the first 12 months. First Direct’s 1st Account comes with a £500 overdraft, £250 of which is interest-free.
15 Do you really need your packaged bank account?
You could be paying £10-£15 a month to your bank for extras like mobile phone insurance, car break down cover and worldwide travel insurance. Great value if you or your family use them regularly, not great value if you don’t need them or you are covered elsewhere. Check your car insurance and home contents insurance for starters. You could save yourself up to £180 a year by changing to a non-packaged account at your bank or switching bank.
16 Ask the question: can I get it cheaper?
Whatever it is - from a new TV to broadband - it’s always worth checking if you can get it cheaper elsewhere or if the retailer will give you a discount or price match. Then make sure you put the amount saved into your savings pot.
Do your research online first so that you can back up any claim to have found the item cheaper elsewhere. Even if you haven't it's still worth asking if any discounts are available. We’ve looked at where you can and where you can’t haggle money off the price in the cost-of-living crisis. Read our expert tips.
17 Manage your energy guzzlers
It's also worth remembering that the home appliances that use the most energy are the washing machine, dishwasher and tumble dryer. These account for 14% of a typical energy bill, according to the EST. So wash at a lower temperature when you can, choose shorter cycles and wait until you have a full load. Any money saved on the energy bill is worth having!
18 Make the most of resale platforms
In a recent Gumtree survey, almost half said they were planning to buy more secondhand items this way in the future, and we could all make an average of £186 by selling our unwanted items.
It's time to make money while you spend it by exchanging your old clobber for cash via resale platforms such as Depop, Vinted and eBay.
You can also use these sites to hunt for top-quality gifts. Pre-owned doesn’t have to mean lower-quality – many items sold on these sites are brand new and often cost less than the original retail price.
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