Money Saving Strategies – Tips on How to Save
It can be all too easy to overspend, even when you plan ahead and set yourself a strict budget. Brands that tempt us with enticing discounts, multi-buy offers and clearance sales are all trying to capitalise on our love of finding a bargain. However, it’s easy to find yourself spending beyond your means in search of offers that are not actually good value. In order to help, we’ve compiled a list of strategies that can help you tighten your budget, save money and still get value from your purchases.
Shopping around for better prices is a tactic as old as shopping itself, but it’s now easier than ever thanks to comparison tools and other software that allows you to track price changes in different online stores. You can start by looking at existing spending, e.g. utility bills, broadband and TV providers and prices offered by different supermarkets.
Comparison sites give a quick and easy overview of the different costs of different providers, but bear in mind they may not show all the offers out there, so you could save more money by doing the legwork and comparing prices site-by-site. You can also find websites that list current prices of goods across every major supermarket – as well as highlighting current special offers.
If you don’t feel like trawling through websites for hours or have fear-of-missing-out when it comes to bargains, there are also dozens of sites that will track prices for you and send an email, text message or push notification when the price of a product drops.
Cutting back on excess spending could just be as simple as eliminating luxuries, however, there are ways to cut back while still getting what you want. As mentioned in the introduction, brands are always trying to tempt us with special offers that seem too good to turn down, however the reality is quite different. Take, for example, an offer that requires you to buy three items for three pounds, when the total regular price would be £3.12 – you will have saved a grand total of 12 pence, when you perhaps only wanted one or two items.
You can also try and look for cheaper substitutes for products that you buy regularly; big name brands can often cost more than generic products that are identical. Using consumer review sites, forums and social media you can find out which products are just as good as the more expensive ones you’re currently buying.
The key thing is getting value for money. Just because something is cheap or seems cheap, does not mean it’s good value. Think about what you’re getting for your money, before you buy.
Get Rewarded for Spending
Vouchers and reward schemes can be overwhelming, considering how many different schemes, options and types of reward exist. They can really make a difference to your budget though, as often you will earn rewards without having to change your normal spending habits.
Many credit cards and bank accounts offer rewards for signing up and spending or saving a certain amount and most high street shops and restaurants offer loyalty cards or a stamp system. There are also schemes that offer cash back whenever you buy something from an affiliated retailer – typically 2-3% of the retail price.
The key to using these schemes is not to be tempted into buying things you don’t want just to get the rewards – inevitably you will end up spending more than you get back. However, if you are planning a purchase anyway and a bonus is available, it is a great way of saving money.
Planning Ahead When You Spend
It’s not difficult to create a budget for your spending when you only look at predictable costs like living expenses, bills, food and transport. Where a budget will often go awry is with larger one-off purchases like gifts, holidays or nights out.
Planning ahead can help keep these costs down – for example a lot of us will leave our Christmas shopping until the last few weeks, when there is less time to wait and see if an item is reduced. Keeping an eye out for potential gifts going on sale all year round is a great way to get what you want, while saving some money.
You can apply the same theory to booking holidays or stocking up on things for winter during the other seasons. It may mean you end up hiding or storing purchases in the top of the wardrobe for a few months, but could also help you save a lot.
Spending to Save
As the old saying goes – you have to spend money to make money – but sometimes you also have to spend money to save money. Spending a few hundred pounds on insulating your boiler or fixing drafts could help reduce your heating bills – paying itself off in the long term.
The same goes for buying in bulk, for example if you find a fantastic deal on a product you use regularly, then stock up before it goes back to its regular price. This can also apply to getting a new mobile phone. For example, you might take on a two-year contract from a network that costs £40 a month but comes with a ‘free’ handset. Although a smartphone from Samsung or Apple can cost in excess of £500 to buy upfront – spread over the course of two years and combined with a monthly SIM or Pay-As-You-Go deal, it may work out cheaper than a contract phone.
The problem with this technique may be that you don’t have the cash available to buy things upfront or in bulk. However, if you can save up the money or do have access to the funds, it can pay off to think about how investing in the long-term can deliver big savings.
If you are interested in learning more about your finances, you can get online access to your credit history with the FREE Equifax Credit Report & Score product which is free for 30 days and £7.95 a month thereafter.
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