How to save money
Updated: Mar 31
Hello guys, I hope you had a lovely weekend!
This post will be about money talk.
It is a tricky topic nowadays, especially because people only like to show off their wealth on social media. The reality of many is quite different though. I bet most people had to struggle to get at the end of the month at least once in their lives.
I come from a rather common working class family: working dad and housewife mum. I never had to worry about money while I was a child but my dad always taught me the value and the importance of it while growing up. He really wanted me to learn how to be financially independent very soon, so I started to have a part time summer job when I was only 14. During high school and university I used to working two afternoons a week as a cleaner and I kept that job for 10 years, until I graduated and I found a proper job. In the summer I would pick another side job to earn more. I have worked in a coffee shop, in a restaurant and I have been a entertainer.
My parents always provided everything I needed in terms of food, education and medical check ups but everything else was on me. For them was crucial that I was able to earn and managed my own money in a wise way so that I would have never have to ask for it to them or anybody.
I have to admit it has been hard sometimes. My friends were having fun at the beach while I had to go to work in the summer. They were going out and I was studying. I had to manage well my money and my time to work things out. I made mistakes and I had to pay for them. I bought my first car, my first mobile phone, clothes and what I fancied always with my own money. I have always had money aside for "emergencies" and I always managed to have savings. I think this is the story of many many people out there.
But there also other people that are struggling to set money aside, especially here in London where life is very expensive.
That's why I put together some tips to save more. It is not important how much, the main thing is to be able to put some money aside every month. It might be difficult at first, be believe, it is worth it. Also, for our society we need to own and do expensive things otherwise we are not cool. That's lie. Real friends and real people will understand and admire your intent of being more frugal. Don't be fooled by things that are not necessary.
I am not going to give you a list of DON'Ts. It feels a punishment. I am giving you advices and alternatives but when following this lifestyle laziness needs to be put aside, because 9 times out of 10 is what makes you spend money.
Saving is a skill like and it can be challenging at the beginning, so maybe start with small changes and baby steps. Then once you are more confident you can add more and more.
It doesn't have to be all year round and maybe it can be a one month challenge just to save enough for an item you wanted. I don't do everything I wrote all the time. Some of the tips in the list are an habit but when I can spend more, I treat myself without feeling guilty about it. Life is one after all.
I know, it sounds obvious but food it is actually one of the biggest monthly expenses so try to reduce the superfluous.
Do a list of items and stick to it. Buy food in promotion or that has been reduced because close to the expire day. Frozen is fine sometimes but buying fresh is always the best option, for you health and for your pockets.
I personally buy a lot from my local off licence turkish shop: it has loads of fresh fruit and veggies at half of the price compared to supermarkets and the quality is much better. They usually have an organic section too. Don't buy pre-cooked food and pre-cut fruit and veggies because they will be more expensive without a reason. The amount of actual food is less and on top of it they won't taste as nice. Try with pomegranate: when you buy it from the plastic pot it doesn't taste anything, but try to buy the whole fruit and you will see the massive difference in taste and convenience!
Home cooking is key. You don't need to be a chef to put together a good meal and sometimes it doesn't even involve cooking stuff. Think about salads, toasts and so on. If you don't know how, just go on you tube and check for tutorials for easy and quick recipes. Most of the time you can find tasty dishes that are easy to do and in less than 15 minutes. Remember that cooking your food is healthier and it makes you in control of the portion sizes and the ingredients which is also better for you waist line. If you double the quantities of ingredients in the evening you can bring the leftovers of you dinner at work the next day. Don't let anybody to make you feel weird about it. My colleagues regularly come to check what I have for lunch and they are pretty jealous about it most of the times.
Creativity is a powerful tool to spicy things up a bit. Even when I bring only a simple salad with me for lunch I make sure to keep things exciting for me: play with colours and textures, add some unexpected ingredients and so on. Salad is not just lettuce and a cucumber: you can add endless ingredients to make it different everyday such as rocket salad, plum tomatoes, avocados, corn, onions, beetroots, cashews, boiled eggs, chickpeas, tuna, pomegranate seeds!
Deliveroo is ok once a month if you really miss it.
Make you own coffee/tea saves you time and money. It makes you skip the Starbucks queue and save loads at the end of the month. Invest in a good coffee machine and a collapsible mug, it literally takes you 5 minutes to make an excellent coffee or latte with it at home before leaving for work.
Buy a glass filter jug if you like me can't stand the taste of tap water instead of buying the plastic bottles and bring with you water while travelling in a stainless steel bottle.
If you leave far away from work it might be expensive. There are travel cards and subscriptions available most of the times online to make you save a bit. You can also ask to be relocated if the distance is big or you could move closer if possible. I believe than spending a bit more of rent is better than wasting precious time and money commuting.
If you don't live far from work just have a walk or cycle instead of taking the tube or a bus for 2 stops. I know a girl that walks everywhere within the hour: she is in amazing shape, more relaxed than many people I have met and she saves loads every month. One of my boyfriend's friend cycles from Bethnal Green to High Street Kensington every day! It is better for the environment and healthier for you too.
Also, when possible try to stick to one public transport: if for instance you are taking the bus to get to the tube station, and then take the train, just skip the bus and walk.
I personally take the bus instead of the tube on a daily basis and not only I save money but my commute is much more pleasant. It takes longer obviously but at least I can sit down and read a book quietly while before I used to stand and be squeezed in the train, forced to smell other people's body odour. No, thank you very much.
Plan ahed how much you are going to spend per month or week and then top up you Oyster card instead of using contactless to keep better track of it.
I don't know the point of calling a uber or a minicab in London: it takes sometimes more than taking public transports and it costs more than double.
-Buy in the sale or pre-owned
Now buying second hand is an habit actually considered cool but a few years ago it would have been a disgrace, at least where I come from. Furniture, home wear, technology and clothing in good conditions (sometimes even brand new) are available at a fraction of the cost on Ebay, Gumtree, Depop and many other websites. Again, it is a more sustainable choice and it helps saving. It just takes a bit of practice and a bit of patience bt it is deeply satisfying.
-How to shrink your energy bills:
I am not telling you to live in a dark, cold hole but I noticed than many times people are abusing of the endless amount of energy that we think we have got. We don't. Saving energy is a major issue for the Earth first, and for your bank account too.
1)Turn off the lights and open the curtains during the day: enjoy natural light.
2)Remember to turn off the lights when you leave the room, even if you know I will come back in a few minutes. It still counts.
3)Opt for one small lamp to light up the room instead of several led lights on the ceiling. Unless you are doing a surgery, you don't need blinding lights. I personally need a bright light if I am cooking something that requires chopping or if I am doing my nails.
4)Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and do the same while your are shampooing. Also washing up in a bowl rather than using a running tap.
5)Don't use the dryer when doing laundry
6)Turn off standby appliances
7)Set a timer for your heater and set a reasonable temperature according to the weather.
I am not at home during the day so I usually switch it on only in the evening and only when it's very cold. Then I always turn it off when I am going to bed.
I would never understand people wearing only t-shirt and shorts in the winter at home and set the temperature at 28 degrees when outside is 2.
The temperature gap between indoor and outdoor shouldn't be too high because it is not healthy and increase the risks of catching a cold. Sleeping in a too hot bedroom will give you discomfort and dry skin. Put on a warm loungewear and switch the heater on only when needed.
8) Opts for showers rather than bath and set a specific time for them.
-Repair your old/damaged items instead of buying new
-Sell what you no longer need
-Don't pay for apps and memberships
Premium Spotify and Amazon Prime, no thank you. I am not paying 10 quids a month to listen to music. The 4 seconds of AD before you can skip on you tube are not so annoying.
Ask a friend to share Netflix with you to split the cost.
Why paying for a gym membership when you can have a run in the park or cycle or just choose a free workout to do at home on you tube? There is a new good free app called FITON that you can download. Pinterest is full of free printable workouts. Everyone knows that paying for the gym will not make sure you are actually attending those classes. My boyfriend bought for us a second hand but pristine complete home gym machine for only 75 pounds and we live in one bedroom flat. If you sharing a flat and you don't have the space just buy a cheap matt, a resistance rubber band and a couple of dumbbells from Decathlon or Core Balance. If I can, you can too.
-Avoid apple pay and limit the use of your contact less card
I use to have Apple pay for a few months and I found out that I didn't perceive properly when I was spending money. As a result I ended up splurging too much without realising it. More or less the same with contact less card. Tapping is so easy and pain-free that I couldn't understand where all the money went at the end of the month.
The best method to check your expenses is to set a budget to spend for the month and divide it per weeks. Then withdraw only a set amount of cash per week and stick to it.
Using cash can be annoying but it makes real and tangible the act of paying itself.
-Ask for email receipts
Paper receipts are easy to loose, are wasting paper (they are not recyclable) and they take space. To keep track of how, where and how much you spend money properly, ask for the email receipts instead when possible. Then, create a folder in your email account where it's super quick to find them back. You will never be stuck again with an item your are not sure about!
-Plan ahead your holidays and avoid peak
Bank holiday, Christmas, Easter, weekends in general and several other times during the year are to be avoided if you want to spend less money. If you can't, plan your trip months in advance so you can find better deals.
-Check you bank account at the end of the month and keep track of your expenses
- Start buying with vouchers
Groupon and Treatwell are amazing websites where great discounts are given for restaurants, retail stores, spas, theatres and much more. When I need to cut my hair I have a browse on Treatwell and I often find a very good deal for less than half price.
-Do researches before buying and buy quality items
My father always repeated me: "The man who spends more, is spending less" meaning: if you invest in long lasting, quality items you will eventually save money. It is easy to be attracted by cheap items only for spending more after when they break.
When you actually need something is tempting to rush into a purchase but I usually take the time to compare prices online. Many times I found the same item at a lower price elsewhere.
-DIY is key
When you can do it on your own, don't pay someone else to do it. I clean my house on my own. I don't go to the salon for wax, nails and to dye my hair. I can hold a razor and a brush so I don't see the point. It is fine to treat you self every now and then but when it is an habit you can't give up, it will affect greatly your wallet.
Making you own cleaning and beauty products is super easy and sometimes is even better than the store bought version. For cleaning tips this is the link for one of my previous posts:
Pinterest gave me so many tips! Home made face and hair masks using natural ingredients, body lotions and much more.
-Plan your gifts and hand made them
Buying gifts can be very satisfying but also incredibly expensive, especially at Christmas. When on budget, use your creativity and make something useful for your friends and family. It could be a basket with home made products such as bottle of liqueur, a jar of jam, a face mask, a candle!
You don't need to be a super woman to do these things and surely the people you love will appreciate the love and time you spend doing them which is the most valuable thing in the world.
-Don't buy magazines, read blogs
Again, think about the environment! No waste of paper and free info! Nowadays we can find literally everything online, why should we pay for magazines?!
Unsubscribe from newsletters
How tempting is to indulge in online shopping after finding an intriguing 50%off email from you favourite brand? Well, too much to resist, at least for me. I used to receive dozen of newsletters every single day. Not exactly what you need if you are trying to restrain yourself. Unsubscribing is easy, usually is within the email you just received. Don't think twice about that: the major sales are only two times a year: summer sales and winter sales.
I hope you guys enjoyed the post and find some useful tips to save more money!
Next post: on Friday! Have lovely week all (and let me know if you will start to be more frugal....)
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