There’s no doubt that money is one of the biggest sources of stress for many people across the world, specifically, when you don’t have enough of it. With a worldwide recession on the horizon, it’s never been more important to look after your money. Fortunately, there are some small lifestyle changes you can make to make the job of saving money easier.
In this post, we’ll focus on some small, realistic money saving habits you can start to put away a few extra notes each month because it’s not always possible to just go out and make more money, most of the time you have to look after the money you already have. As always, small changes over time can lead to big results and it’s no different with your finances.
1. Take your own lunch to work
Taking your own lunch to work could save you a lot of money and you may even end up eating healthier as a result because you’ll have more time to decide what to eat. There’s nothing worse than allowing yourself to get so hungry that you’re willing to spend £7+ on a lunch deal at the store.
There’s been plenty of times when I’ve not eaten breakfast or a late morning snack and then found myself buying sandwiches, crisps, chocolate and pasta at lunchtime because I’m so hungry. At the end of the week, your lunches can seriously add up. Once you start taking your own lunches to work you take back control of your daily expenses.
A great way to make money saving lunches is to pack your lunch tub full of veggies like broccoli that will fill you up and yet give you a boost of fibre. Add some source of lean meat or vegan alternative and you’ll have a cheap, filling lunch. You can even make your own sauce and keep a jar of it in your fridge to use throughout the week for some added flavour.
2. Keep reviewing your monthly expenses
One of the most important money saving habits you can have is to constantly review your expenses. It’s a good idea to do this frequently because you can easily forget about things you may have signed up for. How many times have you checked your bank statement only to see mysterious small charges going out?
You may have signed up for gadget insurance, for example, that you no longer need. A good way to review your monthly expenses in a simple way is to scan over the previous month’s outgoings on your internet banking app and then fill out an expenses table like the one below.
3. Spend less than you earn
It sounds obvious and yet so many of us fail to do it. The only way you can know you’re spending less than you earn is to keep reviewing your expenses. Once you’ve done this you can balance that figure with your monthly income. If your expenses are too close to your monthly salary, it’s time to start spending less until your paycheck is more than your expenses.
4. Save don’t borrow
One of the biggest problems with buying things on credit is the fact that you’re constantly in a negative energy balance. You cannot save the money you have because you need it to pay off the thing you have on credit later on. If you always owe someone money, you can never get ahead. This is difficult because things are expensive and you may even need to replace an expensive appliance once in a while, leaving you with no choice but to borrow money.
If you really have to borrow money then you should do it, however, if you have to ask yourself if you should buy something you simply want, you probably don’t need it at all.
5. Always ask, ‘do I need it?’
When you see something you like, ask yourself; ‘do I really need it?’ Most of the time you just want things, not need them. If you don’t need something, don’t buy it, no matter how badly you want it. It’s even more important to refrain from buying something you don’t need when it doesn’t fit into your monthly budget.
If you want something badly and it doesn’t fit into your monthly budget, work out how long it would take you to save for it. For example, if something is £150, can you save £50 a month over three months? Would it affect your stress levels to spare that amount each month?
So, always ask yourself before you buy anything; ‘do I really need it or do I just really want it?’ This is an extremely important saving habit to get into, even if there are things you want that cost a small amount. Those extra pounds can add up quickly.
6. Use a round-up app
A great money saving habit is stashing away your physical spare change but what if you only use your card on a day-to-day basis? As most transactions are done on cards these days, you might want to look at using an app that integrates with your banking app. This way, you can use a ’round up’ saving function that many of these apps come with.
One of the best and most trusted saving apps that integrate with your bank is Plum. Plum has a savings function that will round up your purchases to the nearest pound and then automatically save the spare change. So, if you buy a £2.50 coffee, Plum will put 50p into a separate saving account for you. It’s amazing how quickly your spare change adds up.
You can download Plum here.
7. Set daily or weekly savings goals
The best way to get anything done is to set goals and that’s no different from saving money. Instead of trying to save bigger chunks each month that may not be realistic, try saving a set amount each week. If you aim to save a small amount each week, you’re more likely to stay on top of your savings. At the end of the month, you’ll be surprised how much you’ve saved.
You can go a step further and set daily saving goals too. The easiest way to do this is to back-engineer how much money you want to save for the month and then divide that figure by four weeks or by 30 days. Every savings goal has a daily or weekly figure. Work out what that needs to be a stick to it.
8. Find the cheapest option
Possibly the biggest money saving habit, especially when you’re in the store is to find the cheapest option. Whilst the cheapest option isn’t always the best option if it still gets the job done, buy it. We all want the best version of drinks and washing powder, for example, but we rarely need them. Saving money is all about sacrifice. If you’re not willing to sacrifice your luxuries, you’ll never be able to save money.
A good shopping habit is to look for the store’s own version of each item you need to buy. If you think you can still get the same taste or the same result from the cheap version, give it a go. You may be surprised at how well store own versions of things can perform.
Try and find everyday essentials like bin bags and washing up liquid. Sure, they are weaker than the big brands but if they get the job done, you could save a lot of money by the time you get to the tills.
9. Always take your own bags
Most stores don’t allow you to buy disposable bags but how often do you forget your own bag and have to pay out for another £2 bag that the store that’s supposed to last a lifetime? The problem with these bags is that they actually have a relatively short lifespan.
Consider taking a rucksack when you go shopping or better still, take some strong bags inside of your rucksack so you don’t need to keep paying for new bags. Always keep a bag in your car to make buying needless new bags a thing of the past.
10. Turn those lights off!
It used to drive me mad when my parents would yell for me to turn the lights off in the house but now I truly understand how much money energy costs! And, it is only getting worse with the huge hikes in electricity prices across the world.
I’ve seen the effects of the energy crisis over the past few months, as have many other millions. I used to leave lights on for hours, more so for comfort than necessity. One of the best money saving habits you can have is powering down all the lights and electronic devices you have when you don’t need them.
A good alternative is to use battery-powered sensor lights that come on when you enter a room. These can be cheap and yet highly effective at saving money on your energy bills.
Have a look at these small lights I found on Amazon.
11. Unplug it
You may not realise it but appliances plugged in ‘on’ sockets still use electricity, even if the appliance isn’t being used. For example, if you turn off your computer monitor but you leave the plug to ‘on’, you’re still using electricity, even if it’s a tiny amount.
Over the course of a year, you could be spending at least £120 on electricity that you’re not even using.
12. Get comfortable with food repetition
There are so many companies that promote junk food to you on TV and online. These foods are often terrible for your health, highly addictive and expensive. When I was growing up, a takeaway was a rare treat. We all knew it was junk food and so that was part of the fun of getting one. It was naughty and it was a one-off treat.
Takeaway foods have become normalised and more and more people order junk food multiple times a week instead of once every couple of weeks. Delivery services have made it incredibly easy for users to order these kinds of foods. Making real food seems boring compared to these fancy takeaway meals laden with sugary sauces and fatty additives.
As I mentioned previously, saving money is about sacrifice and if you’re not willing to sacrifice junk foods for the sake of your wallet, you’ll never save any money. One of the biggest money saving habits is to start taking control back of your diet and thereby making homecooked meals over and over again.
Real, unprocessed foods don’t even have to be boring. There are plenty of different meal plans out there that are free which will teach you how to take simple foods and turn them into something delicious quickly. Not only is this a long-term money saving habit but learning to cook is a vital skill for many different reasons, in my opinion.
The trick is to get used to eating the same good meals over and over again. For example, I’ve been eating turkey and broccoli every day for lunch for the past three months now and I’m not sick of it yet. This has saved me a fortune and helped me to shed a few pounds whilst I’ve been at it.
When you eat junk foods for long enough your taste buds begin to crave them and yet when you eat healthy unprocessed for a week or so, your taste buds end up craving them instead. You may be surprised how quickly you adapt.
Keeping your meals simple and repetitive whilst limiting the treats can save you a fortune. It may seem easy in theory but it is highly doable if youre willing to give it a go.
13. Keep cancelling subscriptions
How many subscriptions do you have? Sky TV? Amazon Prime? Netflix? There are so many subscription services to get sucked into and before you know it you’re paying out a fortune each month but how many of these services are you truly using on a regular basis? You can’t just cancel subscriptions you don’t use, you often have to keep cancelling the ones you have forgotten about.
This has never been more true for services like SKY TV. They have some awesome packages you can get at cheap rates for set time periods of time but if you forget to cancel them before your deals expire, you can end up paying a fortune. A good rule of thumb is to review any add-ons you may have with services like the ones above and cancel them before they expire.
14. Use your otherwise neglected foods over several days
How often do you use up half a bag of carrots and then leave the rest in your fridge for days on end? Before you know it, they go bad. It’s an easy habit to fall into however by using the spare veg you accumulate you could end up with two extra meals a week you could use for your dinners.
To make the most of your fresh foods, try and create meals that cross over from day to day. Can you put those carrots in two different dinners, two days in a row? To save a lot of money, try and use all the food you buy. Apparently, in the UK alone, people throw away 9.5 tonnes of food a year, even though 8.4 people are living in food poverty.
15. Tame your inner impulse buyer
The world is working against you when it comes to making you buy more. Shops are experts at luring your inner monkey brain impulse buyer. As mentioned, they do it with food but they also do it with everything else. Shops put cheap ‘pick up lines’ on the ends of aisles that are designed to look pretty and attractive whilst seeming like bargains at the same time.
It’s easy to fold and grab a few extra things that you don’t really need because they look ‘nice’. If you want to save money, you have to tame your monkey impulse buyer.
One of the best ways to do this is to always make sure you bring a list to any store you visit. If you go to a store to just look around, you’re exposing yourself to the cleverly crafted items being flashed in your direction and you’re more likely to grab something you don’t need.
We’re all guilty of doing it and shops make billions from these kinds of impulse buys.
16. Keeps selling off old items
How many old items do you still own? How many old items have you stopped using? One of the best things about social media is the marketplace function. You don’t need to go to a bolt sale or list something in the paper these days. Just go on a network like Facebook and list your item for sale.
You’d be surprised how many people buy second-hand items on places like Facebook and the best part is buyers are usually local so you might be able to sell your old items within the same day to someone in your town. You can also join selling groups which are always full of buyers.
You can then use your funds to add to your savings or towards new items that you actually do need.
17. Wash your clothes with cold water
We’re all used to washing our clothes in warm water but did you know that heating water is the biggest energy cost in most households? Warming water takes a lot of energy and you could save a lot of money by lowering the temperature of your washing machine or simply washing your clothes in cold water instead.
You’ll not only be saving a fortune but you’ll also help to make your clothes last longer and help the environment at the same time so washing your clothes in cold water is a great money saving habit.
18. Take water with you
One of the easiest money saving habits is to take a water bottle around with you. Not only will you save money by not having to buy water all day but you may also save money on food. This can be the case because water helps to keep you fuller for longer. Sometimes you may feel like you’re hungry but you’re actually just thristy.
There are many different large water bottles you can buy these days that you can take to work with you, keeping you from purchasing beverages whilst helping you to stay fuller and hydrated.
19. Take your time when shopping online
When it comes to online buying, research is your best friend. Almost everything online has a cheaper version or a lower price elsewhere. The great thing about online shopping is there’s so much competition which means there are many different places to buy from. Amazon is one of the best places to do your online shopping but do you ever look at eBay too?
Of course, it’s not just these sites, there are also secondhand goods websites that allow people to sell off items in great condition that they don’t use anymore. Make sure you look around before you press that buy button. There’s always a cheaper version out there that is just as good, it just takes a little time and patience.
20. Use an online voucher finder
When you’re searching for the best deal online you may be surprised to know you could save even more money by using a free browser extension like Honey. The Honey browser extension will automatically find any valid vouchers to go towards your online purchases, all for free! Simply download the lightweight extension and you’re set to go. The extension will do all the leg work for you effortlessly. There really is no reason not to use something like Honey right now.
Download it for free here.
21. Merge habits
We can all get fitter, no matter how fit we think we are, there’s always room for improvement. One of the best ways to create new habits that last is to combine them. For example, if you can walk to work or to the store, why not ditch the car or the bus and get fitter whilst you save some petrol money? You’ll have increased your step count for the day whilst knowing you’ve saved a small amount of change you could use at the store.
22. Keep resurfacing your ‘why’
Any strong habit has a strong ‘why’ behind it. There’s no point starting a habit if there’s no concrete reason behind why you’re doing it. When it comes to a money saving habit, you need to keep establishing your ‘why’, especially when you’re tempted to make a purchase on a whim. If your purchase damages the point of your ‘why’, don’t buy it.
You might be saving money to buy a new car or to put towards a new house or you might just want to have a safety net. Whatever the reason, keep reminding yourself as to why you’re saving and then you can weigh up if buying the things you want to buy will set you back from your goal.
23. Make saving fun
Saving, or simply trying to save money can be stressful but you can try and make it fun by creating short challenges like the ‘no spend weekend’ or by creating daily saving amounts from as little as 1p. I believe one of the reasons as to why saving is stressful for many people is because they feel as if they have little control over their money. Setting yourself challenges gives you back a sense of control, even if you’re saving 1p or 1 cent a day.
Even if you can only manage to save a tiny amount of money each week you will still have forward momentum. No one got a large savings account overnight unless they were given the money. Everyone started somewhere.
24. Look after your dishcloths
When it comes to money saving habits, making disposables last longer is key. There are many items that you need to keep replacing throughout the year and one of these essentials is dishcloths. Get yourself a good dishcloth and look after it. It’s recommended that you replace your dishcloths every 30 days because bacteria can easily grow in them but you can make them last much longer if you look after them.
For example, Swedish dishcloths can last up to 12 months if you look after them properly. After every washing-up session, rinse them out and leave them in boiling water for 15 minutes to sanitise them. Once you’re done, rinse them out again until they are dry and ready for the next time you need them.
25. Store your jars upside down
How many jars do you have in your fridge right now? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used half a jar of sauce, only to forget about it and it ends up going bad. The problem is, even within tight jars, mould can quickly grow and spoil your foods. To counter this, store your jars upside down to slow the process of mould forming.
26. Check your bank balance every day
Although it may seem a bit obsessive, checking your bank balance every day is an important money saving habit. If you’re completely aware of everything going in and out, you’re able to remind yourself of your budget. Small transactions seem tiny each day but they add up very quickly at the end of the week.
27. Use toilet wet wipes
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I even knew toilet wet wipes were a thing. They’re often cheaper, and cleaner, than paper and will last longer as you use less. The average 4 pack of toilet rolls in the UK is just under £2 however a pack of 50 wipes costs £1, depending on where you shop. Paper toilet roll also disappears faster when you have kids. Give wet wipes a go and see if you save money.
28. Top up your mouthwash with water
Whilst it’s probably not going to be as effective as pure mouthwash, topping up your mouthwash with water when it gets low can save you a lot of money. You’ll still be able to dislodge food stuck between your teeth but you’ll make your mouthwash go twice as far.
29. Air dry your clothes
Another money saving habit is air drying your clothes. Chucking your clothes in a tumble dryer is not only terrible for the environment, but it also uses a hell of a lot of electricity. Air drying your clothes is a good habit to get into because you’ll save a lot of money come the end of each year with the added benefit of making your clothes last longer as they won’t be exposed to extreme heat on a regular basis.
30. Challenge yourself
Another fun saving challenge is seeing how little you can spend in a week. You’re going to need essential items like food and electricity but everything else can be cut back on. Work out your weekly expenses and then keep cutting them down to cheaper versions and be creative in finding ways to save on items. Try and be as restrictive as you can without allowing yourself to go without.
Each week, see if you can spend even less and before you know it you’ll have tucked away a few extra pounds or dollars. You’ll soon find out how little you actually need to get by and you may just become addicted to being more frugal.
31. Educate yourself
One of the things that frustrated me about school was that there was no money education. It seems crazy when you think about it because whether you like it ot not, money, thinking about money, spending hours a day trying to make more money and using money each day is going to be a big part of your life.
This is why it’s important to educate yourself about how money works, how you should treat it and how you can make more of it. There’s so many websites, books and videos freely available these days for you to start absorbing information that will give you better money habits as you understand money more and more.
32. Always check your fridge temperature
Pretty much all refridgerators are optimised to work best at – 5 C whilst freezers are supposed to be at – 18C. Sometimes your fridge can change temperature if you leave the door slightly open, for example. Apparently, for every degree your fridge goes up, you’ll be using 6% more energy so it’s important to make a habit of checking your fridge’s temperature regularly.
33. Check trift shops first
If you absolutely need something, why not check a thrift shop first? You may not always find what you need but if you do, you’ll likely find a second-hand version for the fraction of the price.
34. Look after your shoes
A huge money saving habit is looking after your shoes so they last longer. With some essentials, you can get away with buying the cheapest versions, however, a decent pair of shoes aren’t something you can skimp on. There are a number of different way you can look after your shoes to make them last longer such as cleaning them regularly, avoiding the washing machine and spraying them with protectant.
Looking after your shoes to make them last longer could save you hundreds by the end of the year.
35. Reuse envelopes
Rather than chucking away your recieved envelopes, reuse them yourself. When you get a letter, carefully remove the sticker that includes all the tracking and address information and store it away. Sometimes it won’t be possible to remove stickers and information completely, in those cases, you’ll have to recycle unusable envelopes. However, most of the time you’ll be able to remove all the information from the envelope and reuse it yourself.
36. Make a habit of saying ‘no’ more
It is everyone’s personal responsibility to look after their own money. If someone is asking to borrow money from you because they have not been sensible with their own money, get into the habit of saying no. It’s not rude or selfish to say no, all you are doing is protecting yourself. If you have worked hard to save your money, it doesn’t make sense to lend it to others, especially if they have a habit themselves of always asking to borrow money and being irresponsible with their money.
All you end up doing is continuing the cycle for those who are asking for money.
Do you know of any other money saving habits? If so, leave them in the comments below!