We have all done it, started out at new year, pledging to make saving our New Years Resolution! Each year lots of us aim to put an end to the constant cycle of living pay cheque to pay cheque unable to budget for when the fridge freezer packs in or the car breaks down. Like so many of us in the office, do you ever find that there is never quite enough and towards the end of the month start riffling through old handbags, coat pockets and rummaging down the back of the sofa for any spare cash? It was one of our biggest worries for our tenants on Universal credit, having to go 5 weeks waiting for their first payment and then having to get used to monthly budgeting. Here are some of the things our staff have been trying in an attempt to save some dosh and put us back in the black.
Know our spending
It’s easy and we have all been there. You pass the garage and just pick up that pack of biscuits, forgot to get cat food and so just pop to the corner shop. Popping it on the card, contactless; it doesn’t always register and at the end of the month its easy to wonder where the money has gone. Some of the team found that unplanned purchases were adding up to a significant amount each month. Some staff downloaded a banking and budgeting apps. How you record it doesn’t really matter, just by keeping a record of purchases we were able to see exactly what we had left and put a stop to the risk of bouncing Direct debits or charges for late payments. Its a great start and was really easy just checking our accounts daily to see what our balance was.
Cut out unnecessary spending
Its nice buying treats for family and friends, eating out and spending weekends doing fun activities but it can all add up and its hard to afford everything. We found that we had lots of spending on unnecessary items, subscriptions we didn’t use and take away food. So if you haven’t been to the gym, haven’t use your Netflix in a while or have a Chinese every Saturday its worth adding up what you could possibly save and then decide what you could lose and save. From small things to big they can add up to be a big saving, some of the guys in the office cancelled their Amazon Prime membership whereas others handed back a second car to save on expensive lease payments. We found that using the cash saved on cancelling those non-essential items to put into a savings account was a big incentive as you could physically see the difference it made, it’s pretty nice seeing the savings account grow, it may not stay there long but it’s a much nicer feeling knowing that its there in an emergency and will stop the need to turn to credit in a pinch.
If you are anything like us at the start we just couldn’t work out where all our money was going. After looking at our spending, a lot seemed to be on food. One of our biggest savings came from meal planning. After watching a cooking show (thank you Mary Berry) one of our staff started really using their freezer! By batch cooking and planning meals for the week, they made a real saving ensuring that trips to the shops were limited to once a week and that there was no expensive convenience foods that had to be thrown out as they had reached their use by date. One of our staff found that their weekly shop was reduced by half just by doing batch cooking.
It’s worth checking your thermostat on the boiler. It may not be such an issue in the summer months, however as it gets colder it’s a big area of expense. One of our guys constantly had their boiler set to 30 degrees. We had some advice and followed the instructions on line to reduce the thermostat down to 18 degrees so we stopped paying lots for a boiler to continue to use energy trying to heat the house up to 30 degrees. One of our guys got a smart meter installed for free from their energy supplier. It meant they could see what electrical items caused the most usage. Its surprising how many times we forgot to make the tea, and constantly boiling the kettle takes up energy. Small things but it all adds up.
So its looking promising, some of the team have been able to put some savings in the bank, some putting the savings towards debt. Mostly we are all agreed it’s nice not to have the constant worry and sinking feeling when it comes to opening the bank statement.
You can also find some great tips at https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en or http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-energy-efficiency/wales or visit your local hub for some money or budgeting advice.
If you have any tips to share please do… we could all do with a little help.