Now, more than perhaps every before, people are finding that their income doesn’t stretch quite far enough and our attempts at saving money are met with frustration. Whether it’s because you’ve been furloughed, been made redundant or simply because the cost of your food bill has gone up, thousands of us are having to find ways to cut costs.
There have been many times over the years that I have struggled financially, the worst time being when I was a single parent. So I fully understand the dilemma of trying to find that extra bit of money for an unexpected bill or needing to scrabble through the change in your purse to find money for a non-uniform day that you had forgotten about.
Before the second UK lockdown, I was working as a freelance content writer. Unfortunately, that has now been put on hold, so we are once again tightening our belts.
I thought I would share with you all my top tips for saving money. It is in no way a definitive list and I’m sure that there are many more ways. But these are the things that have helped me to get myself and my family through some tough times.
1. Make a meal plan AND STICK TO IT!
It’s amazing how much money we can spend on the food shopping without even thinking about it. For us, our weekly shop was sitting at around £110 per week for a family of 8 and a dog which was already very good, but I knew we could get it down further. By carefully writing out a meal plan which included snacks and treats so that the children didn’t feel as though they were missing out, I managed to get the weekly bill down to around £75 per week. A saving of over £140 over the course of a month!
2. Don’t buy takeaways or extra snacks!
This is an area that we were really awful for. If we didn’t fancy cooking then we would often cheat and get a takeaway. When I went back through my bank statements, it turned out that we had spent over £300 in one month by ordering on JustEat! After I had seen this, I couldn’t bring myself to work out how much the extra trips to the supermarket had cost. By adding in snacks and treats in to the meal plan, you can still feel like you’re having something nice but stay within budget.
3. Check that you’re not paying for any subscriptions that you don’t use!
I went through all of my direct debits and found that I was paying for things that either I didn’t use or I had completely forgotten about. For example, I had an Audible account that I hadn’t used for over a year. By cancelling that, I instantly saved myself £95 over the course of a year.
4. Stop using the tumble dryer!
This was another really difficult one. With such a big family, we always have tonnes of washing that needs doing. But running a tumble dryer costs a fortune. By using a clothes airer for the bulk of the laundry and only using the dryer for towels, we will hopefully see a drop in our electricity bill.
5. Get outside!
As I’m sure that many parents can relate, my kids always want to be doing something. Usually this will involve a screen. But in an effort to reduce our electricity bill, we are trying to have the tv and other screens switched off more. Getting the kids outside is a bit of a double whammy for us. Not only does it mean that the screens, lights and heating are on less, it tires them out too. We are very lucky to be surrounded by lots of woodland and open space, but a local play park or a trip to feed the ducks are both excellent options.
What are your top tips for saving money?