It is a struggle that so many of us face every single day; we all strive to live the best life possible, have our dream car and own our own house. Easier said than done, right? Sadly in this current economic climate, it’s a struggle just to live a debt free life.
With wage increases at one of the lowest rates in history, it’s more important than ever to make the most of our money. What’s the best way to do this? Spend less. This may sound easier said than done, with many people fully exhausting their entire monthly income.
However, there are various techniques that can be put in place in order to up your savings and spend less money. This guide has some tips and tricks that can be used to help stretch your money.
Managing Your Finances
Of course, the number one area in which we all could use a bit of work with saving is our overall finances and how we manage them. It can be so difficult at times to take the time the create a budget for all of your expenses, but it also helps to take it one step further. We recommend making use of the 50, 20, 30 budget. This involves splitting your entire income into 3 parts, allowing you to live a financially comfortable lifestyle moving forwards. The breakdown of this budget is as follows:
50% – Living Expenses
This chunk of your income is allocated for your living costs. This included rent, utility bills and other essentials such as groceries. If your living expenses are significantly higher than 50% with no way of cutting them, you may need to reconsider your lifestyle. This means evaluating each aspect of your living costs, and considering whether you are living beyond your means. For example, could you be living somewhere less expensive? Whether it’s downsizing or living somewhere slightly less fancy, you might find that cutting your rent cost significantly reduces your financial pressures.
20% – Financial Goals
Putting 20% of your income towards your financial goals is essential for accomplishing them. It’s a pretty basic concept, if you’re not putting enough money aside each month for your financial goals, chances are you wont reach any of them. It’s easy enough to live from paycheque to paycheque, without saving any money for the future and hoping you pick a winning lottery ticket. Sadly, this approach makes you so much less likely to achieve financial freedom.
30% – Other Expenses
This money is for any other expenses you have whether this is taking the kids to the movies, or treating yourself to a take out (every once in a while) It’s important to keep yourself sane. If you spend all of your time and energy trying to spend less money, chances are you might not have much of a life. The final 30% of your budget can be put aside for leisure and other costs that you wouldn’t associate with essential living expenses such pet bills.
While creating your budget, it’s really helpful to list all of your incoming and outgoing finances. It is also important to list your debts. This will allow you to gain and accurate reflection of how much income is actually ‘yours’. It’s important to understand that if you have debts that you are committed to paying on a monthly basis, then these must be a priority before allocating any of your budget.
Groceries are an expense that most families spend a great deal of money on. When buying products that are on sale, it becomes very easy to fall into a trap. It’s often easy to think that because something is ‘on sale’ that it’s a purchase worth making. If this is a product that you buy weekly, then it may be sensible to buy it whilst the price is reduced. However, if it’s an item that isn’t part of your weekly grocery list then steer clear.
It is also worth considering purchasing own brand products. We all have our go to brands for certain items of food however, with certain groceries you may find that an in store version of a big name brands product tastes just as good. The benefit to doing this is that stores own brand versions of products often cost just a fraction of the price when compared to the bigger brands.
“One of the most effective tips when it comes to buying groceries and stocking up the kitchen is simple, create a meal plan.”
Having a menu set out and planned at the beginning of each week, can help you ensure that you only buy the groceries you need for your meals. By doing so you can severely reduce the risk of overspending at the store. This can also enable you to find specific coupons for your groceries you plan to get, creating even more savings on your grocery run.
The idea of only spending money on the groceries or food you need for your week can also carry into the idea of eating out. We all love to eat out, don’t get me wrong. It gives us a chance to relax for a night, and have someone else cater to our hunger needs.
Unfortunately for all of us, eating out can catch you on the wrong side of the bill at the end of the night, causing quite a big hole in your pocket. This depends on your financial situation, but we recommend planning in advance when you eat in a restaurant or get take out.
This allows you to monitor the amount of money you are spending eating in restaurants or getting take out. By planning this monthly, you significantly reduce the likelihood of getting an impulse take out or restaurant meal. This will help you spend less money in the long run.
One area of the budget that can cause problems is our vehicles. Gas, oil, and other components of your vehicle running properly can take a toll on your wallet, but there are some tips for conserving the amount that you need to spend.
One of the best ways to make sure you are getting your money‘s worth out of the gas in your vehicle is to make sure that your car is running at the best of its ability. This means making sure you get your car in to get serviced on time, checking the air pressure in all of your tires as well as checking your oil frequently.
Taking your car in for a routine check that costs you $100 may seem like a strain on the wallet, but it’s well worth it if it prevents an issue that cost 5 times as much further down the line. Keeping on top of your vehicle’s needs will allow you to have the functionality you deserve, along with keeping some of your change in your pocket.
It’s also important to consider whether you need to be using your vehicle. If you live relatively close to work, do you really need to be driving to work everyday? It may cost you a few hundred bucks for a push bike, but using it to get to work over the summer means it will eventually pay for itself in reduced gas costs.
If you live too far away to cycle to work, consider your public transport options. Although this is still going to cost you money, it may be cheaper than filling your car with gas and paying running costs. This is a great way than can help you spend less money in getting to work.
If you have no option but to drive to work, it’s worth asking around to find people that live in y0ur area. Buddying up and car pooling will allow you all to spend less money in getting to work, and meet some new friends while you do it!
Another area where many people tend to struggle is with the running costs associated with their homes. Now, this doesn’t just mean the mortgage or rent price; This can include water, electric, and any other bills that are tied to your monthly expenses.
Cutting down on your utility bills is a great way to spend less money. This can be done by being efficient with your energy and water use. From turning off switches when they don’t need to be used, to turning off the water while you brush your teeth, be efficient with what you use. This is something that has become even easier with the use of smart technology.
Smart meters can give you easy control over what you’re using in your household. These can be linked to apps for your smartphone so that you can monitor your energy usage even when away from the house.
When it comes to energy suppliers, don’t be loyal. We are luck enough to live in an era where a comparison website is just a click away, use them. If you’re unhappy with what you’re currently paying it’s easy to check the competition.
If you’re paying more than you should be, contact the supplier and explain you’ve been given a cheaper quote and if they can’t match it then choose a new supplier. Check with your energy suppliers to make sure that you aren’t paying any unnecessary costs.
Some energy suppliers add a premium on to your quotes for sending your bills. Going paperless for your bills can often save you a few dollars each year. This doesn’t sound like much but across all suppliers will add up.
Other Ways to Save More and Spend Less Money
Now that we’ve covered the traditional bases in terms of expenditure areas, there’s a few more ways that you can save more and spend less money.
These days, we spend less and less time talking on the phone and more time communicating via messaging apps such as Whatsapp.
Call your phone provider to check what your monthly usage is each month, you may find that you’re not using anything near what you’re paying for. If this is the case then cut the bill. Having a phone in your home is also becoming a thing of the past.
If you’re paying a line rental for a home based phone, but primarily using a smartphone for your day to day communications this may be another expense you can cut out.
It’s also worth querying direct debit payment cost reductions for all of your providers. Receiving automated payments makes life much easier for service providers, and you may find that some offer discounted prices for those that offer to pay this way.
With many of your purchases now being carried out online, it is important to consider how you can get the most for your money. Signing up to companies newsletters mean that they will inform you when they have offers on, sometimes offering huge discounts compared to normal prices.
Another great way to save yourself some money is with cashback websites such as Quidco. These websites allow you to visit retailers through their search function and retain a small percentage of your online expenditure through cashback which you can withdraw as a cash balance. Since you were going to spend this money anyway, using cashback websites is a great way to save more and spend less money.
In order to save more and spend less money, make the money that you have at the moment stretch further. Whether it’s creating a set budget, or just making a conscious effort to reduce the amount of products and money you use in your day to day activity, it can be easy to find simple ways that you cant save more and spend less money.
We don’t expect you to deploy all of the techniques stated within this guide, and it’s important to cherrypick what you think might work best for you and your family. It’s important to put plans and strategies in place however, the key to succeeding in these is consistency.
We hope that this guide helps you in your current circumstances, allows you to achieve your goals and overcome every financial challenge that gets put in front of you.