Here at Scottish Debt Help, we know that times have been hard for many of us over the last year, with the pandemic hitting the pockets of people and businesses alike. So, we’ve put together our top tips for saving money to help you to keep more of your cash in your pockets.
Don’t buy what you can’t afford
This might seem like we’re stating the obvious but spending beyond your means can be the first step on the road to serious financial difficulties.
If you only buy things you can afford to buy, then you’ll avoid falling into problem debt.
By following the rule of only buying things you can already afford, you’ll help yourself to avoid ‘buy now pay later’ schemes, that, according to research carried out by Which? encourage impulse buying and overspending in 24% of people that use these schemes.
Shop in the ‘reduced’ section
Everyone’s seen the variously named reduced sections in their local supermarkets.
You can bag some serious savings by making the most of the reduced section. Particularly if you find out what times your local supermarket fills theirs, and if you have freezer space to make use of, even better as you can seriously stock up.
Use cash when you go out
Despite the bad press that cash has had during the pandemic, it really can be a very effective budgeting tool.
Cash helps you to budget simply by being finite. For example, if you go out and only take £20 with you and leave your cards at home, you can’t spend more than £20. So, by necessity, you won’t spend over the amount you budgeted and took with you.
Obviously, takeaways are some of the few businesses that have benefited from the pandemic to the extent that last week Deliveroo was offering 6p meals to say ‘thankyou’.
But, by steering clear of takeaways and cooking your own meals, you’ll very likely save a considerable amount of money.
What’s more, you don’t have to sacrifice flavour – in fact, you can either create your own ‘normal’ meals or make ‘fake-aways’ that are likely just as – if not even more – tasty.
Cook from scratch and avoid waste
You could try making a meal plan (and sticking to it) each week, so you know what you need to buy and what you’ll be cooking.
This can help you to know what you need in advance and bulk buy essentials and freeze them too.
Mend and make do
We’ve all been guilty of buying that pair of trainers we don’t really need. Cutting down on impulse buys and making do with the things you already have can help you to stick to a budget.
Also, you can mend clothes yourself or maybe re-dye old jeans to get extra life out of things and make them feel like new – this will help you to save money as well.
Try to separate ‘want’ and ‘need’
Further to the point above, if you don’t need those new trainers, or that new top, then try not to buy them.
Making a distinction between wanting and needing is very important when it comes to saving money.
Obviously, we aren’t saying don’t buy the things you need. And we’re not saying never treat yourself. But by trying to cut down on impulse buying and only spending what you need to, you’ll keep a tighter control of your money and you’ll be able to afford it when you do treat yourself.
Make yourself a ‘tips’ jar
If you get yourself a jar, or piggy bank to keep your spare change in, not only does it stop you from spending what’s in your pocket on things you wouldn’t buy if you didn’t have that ‘shrapnel’, but it also gives you a tangible pot of money that you can watch building up and use to treat yourself when it’s full.
Don’t shop on an empty stomach
We’ve all been there – in the middle of the supermarket, hungry, and before we know it, we’ve left having spent twice what we usually would.
Going to the shops hungry is a recipe for disaster.
There are even studies that have been done, that have shown the doing the grocery shop when you’re hungry leads to spending more; this even goes as far as non-food items.
Make sure you eat before you shop.
Try buying own-brand
It’s a well-known way to spend less and doing it doesn’t mean compromising on quality. They will often come from the very same place that the branded products come from.
And many people even say that not only is own-brand just as good, in some cases own-brand is even better.
Shop at a cheaper supermarket
Just by changing from somewhere like Tesco or Sainsbury’s to somewhere like Aldi or Lidl, you can make a huge saving on your food shop.
In fact, Lidl was crowned the cheapest supermarket of 2020, earlier this year.
Ok, there might be some items you have to nip elsewhere for, but the money you’ll save will make it well worth it.
Try to ignore special offers
As we’ve previously mentioned in our Black Friday blog, in many cases, special offers aren’t that special.
On many occasions, we’ve seen special offers end up cheaper later in the year, or marked up so they can later be marked down as a ‘special offer’ that isn’t all that special.
In general, these offers are a ploy to get you to buy things you don’t really need.
Think carefully before you dive into one of these purchases.
Empty the cupboards
Those tins of beans that are gathering dust in the back of the cupboard; use them.
Rather than shelling out for more food before you’ve finished what you already have, have a think about what you can do with the ‘cupboard fillers’ that you’ve got in already.
Doing this can definitely save you money and might even help you to discover some tasty new recipes, as well.
Take food when you go out
Everybody knows that eating out costs more than eating in.
So, if you’re on a day out, why not try taking a packed lunch to keep costs down?
Pubs and restaurants are re-opening, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a picnic.
Stay on top of your accounts
Perhaps the single most important tip of them all – this will help you to do all of the others successfully.
Use an accounts book. Make sure you plan what comes in and goes out each month. This way you’ll always be in control of your money and you might even be able to start saving with the corners you cut using the other 14 tips.