My blogging friend Jacquelyn, of The Little Scottish Corner fame, came up with the concept of Money-Saving March at the beginning of the month. She was feeling poor after buying herself a new bike, and thought it would be a good idea if we all shared some clever tips on how to save money after a big splurge.
This is indeed a very good idea. However, having had a rather busy couple of weeks, I’ve been a bit slow off the mark. It may still be March now, but I think I may have to extend Money-Saving March into Austerity April if I want to sort my life out. Like, properly.
So here are some of the tips I’ve amassed over the years. They aren’t exactly plentiful, but I hope you find them handy, all the same.
This is one that I used to do when I was at university. If you draw out your entire budget for the week in cash on a Sunday or Monday morning, then only spend the cash you have in your purse all week, it’ll be easier to keep track of your spending.
It’s very easy to just put something on your card and forget about it, but if you’re handing over actual cash, and can see how much you have left for the week in your purse, it might make you think twice about any unnecessary purchases.
TRAIN TRAVEL: DON’T FORGET TO FILL OUT A ‘DELAY REPAY’ FORM
If you travel by train a lot, chances are you’re going to be delayed a lot, too.
Whether it’s a train fault or a fallen tree, an inexplicably cancelled train or a Biblical-style flood, if it delays you by 30-59 minutes, you’re entitled to half your money back.
If you’re more than an hour late, fill out a “delay repay” form, and you can get 100% of the price you paid for a single ticket, and 50% of the price you paid for a return, given back to you in train vouchers.
You can use these vouchers with any train company in the UK. In the last year alone I’ve collected at least £100 in train vouchers because of delays, which means lots of free trips to see my Boyfriend. Yay!
SKIP YOUR MORNING COFFEE
A Starbucks on your way into work or school is going to cost you at least £2 per day. That’s £10 per week. £40 per month. £480 per year. I think I’d rather have a posh handbag…
BRING A PACKED LUNCH TO WORK
Likewise, if you go out and buy lunch from a coffee shop or supermarket every day, it’s going to cost you more than the ingredients for a week’s worth of packed lunches.
Lunch in a shop can cost anything upwards of about £1.50, which means you’re spending at least £7.50 a week, and most likely more. A typical supermarket/Boots meal deal costs about £3, and if you’re eating in a coffee shop you’ll be saying goodbye to at least a fiver every day. You might as well have a smoking habit, it’s that expensive.
CHOOSE YOUR SUPERMARKETS WISELY
If you’re shopping in Waitrose or M&S and wondering why you’re so poor, it might be worth taking some time to reassess. Maybe only go in there on weekday evenings? A lot of the best “reduced” stickers are stamped on between 7pm and 9pm, and you can get some excellent bargains on lovely food. Otherwise, maybe stick to Asda, Aldi, Lidl, and Morrisons, which are thought to be the cheapest.
Something else to note: beware the town-centre supermarket. Tesco Metro/Express, Sainsbury’s Local, and those other mini-versions of big supermarkets can often be more expensive, partly because they don’t stock as many cheap alternatives of the same products.
And while I’m on it…
BUY YOUR MAKEUP IN SUPERMARKETS
I’ve only recently discovered this one. The last few times I’ve been into Asda’s, they’ve had a ‘Roll Back’ deal on Rimmel makeup. I’ve picked up their ‘Wake Me Up’ foundation for just £5, and many of their other products were reduced too. If you need to stock up on drugstore items, try the supermarket, rather than Boots, next time. You might be able to get some bargains!
I hope at least some of that was helpful. I for one am still whimpering “help me, I’m poor” à la Kristen Wiig with amusing regularity.
What do you do to make yourself feel more thrifty? Perhaps you could do an Austerity April post to let us all in on your secrets. Or if you’re quick, you might even manage it during Money-Saving March!