Want to maximise your finances this year and keep hold of as much cash as possible? I do too. You probably know that I’m a rather thrifty lady and that I’d make any changes to my lifestyle in order to live better for less. But thankfully, this option doesn’t require any big changes, no hardship and not going without. It just allows you to hold on to more of your hard-earned pay packet at the end of the month. Read on to find out how I made some easy changes that could save me up to £200 this year…Let me set the scene: 2016 is the year of saving for me. Okay, I try to save as much as I can every year – and I don’t just mean saving money in my ISA. I also mean minimising the amount I spend on all the little things that add up throughout the year. Just shopping around online, buying secondhand and picking up the end-of-line items in the supermarket can all add up to a rather large stash of cash by the end of the year. Even though I’ve been frugal all of my life (being a student for 7 years, I had to be careful!) this year counts more than ever because I’m saving with purpose. I’m buying a house this year!At least, that’s the plan. I expect that you’ll see me blogging about my new front door before the year is out (as long as I can find somewhere lovely that I want to live, that is!). But I need a big deposit and I need to keep putting the pennies into my piggy bank to save for that. Actually, it’s not so much that I need a big deposit, but more like I want to have a big deposit so that 1) I can afford a house that might be out of budget otherwise, or so that 2) the loan-to-value will be lower and my mortgage rate will be better, or so that 3) I own more of the house to begin with and am paying less each month on the mortgage. Continue reading “Stash your cash in 2016 by maximising your finances with Ofgem” »
In our house the countdown to Christmas has begun. Not only am I super-excited that my favourite time of year is less than 10 weeks away, but I’m preparing myself in a thrifty sense too. We all know that the cost of Christmas can soon add up so this month I’ve started buying gifts to spread the cost. Plus, I’ve treated myself to some festive craft kits to help me and my family get into the festive spirit in the run up to December – well, you can never have too many handmade baubles can you?! Decorations aside, today I want to share with you some ideas for saving money this festive season and hopefully help with your financial planning too..!
It may seem a little soon to be thinking about plans for Christmas; after all, we’ve not even got Halloween or Bonfire Night out of the way yet! But planning ahead is a sure-fire way to make certain that you don’t overspend this Christmas. It allows you to save over the coming weeks, spread the cost and prevent costly impulse shopping at the last minute. With the average family spending £820 on Christmas (statistic from an interesting infographic by Alexander & Co accountants in Manchester) that can be a big hit on your bank account all at once so here are some ways to save a little cash this year while still enjoying the run-up to the big day.
Most of us would shudder at the idea of getting a credit report – all your financial misdeeds and mistakes summed up on one damning piece of paper. But sooner or later we all have to face up to our financial past in order to start building a financial future. That’s why a free credit report (http://www.creditexpert.co.uk/free-credit-report.aspx) could be the best (non) investment you’ve ever made.
Your credit report acts sort of like your financial resume. When you go to your bank to ask for a mortgage, a credit card or a personal loan, they need to know if they can trust you to pay the money back. Back in the old days, the bank manager would know everyone in the town and he would make that decision based on instinct, local knowledge, your family background and your current circumstances. Obviously, it doesn’t work like that anymore. Continue reading “How can a free credit report save you money?” »
At the start of June I vowed to keep a spending diary with the intention of finding out just where all my money goes! Read my blog post all about it here. I started keeping track of receipts and even small payments like buying a stamp or a cup of coffee – it’s amazing how quickly all those little 50ps and pounds add up! At times it was difficult to even remember what I’d spent during a day out but the money was no longer in my purse so I had to really think back and jot down all the little things I’d paid for from the car-boot sale or food that I’d bought at the end of every day. It sometimes slipped my mind in the evening and I had to fill in my diary the following morning, but all in all I managed to keep up with it and I’ve learnt a few things from it. By the end of the month, it just seemed as natural as writing a normal diary at the end of the day, so I’m sure that I’ll stick with it in future!
The whole #SpendingDiary plan was inspired by some research by the Children’s Society that 1 in 5 families in the UK are struggling with financial problems. I’d read the report on the Wilson Field blog and thought about what I could do to take control of my own personal spending. So at the start of June I not only started accounting for every penny that I spent, but I also started making proper lists for shopping and household items. Rather than simply browsing the shops and picking up whatever I like the look of, I now head into the town centre with a list and I shop around to find those items – and I stick to it! There have obviously been a few unnecessary items that I just liked the look of – eg a pair of My Little Pony PJs reduced in Primark when I’d gone in for leggings and a vest – but there’s no need to deny yourself the treats that you really want or miss out on a bargain just because you’re keeping an eye on your pennies! It’s more about keeping track of money in order to stop 0ver-spending and getting a shock at the end of the month.
June was a particularly difficult month, because my car was due its MOT and tax so that’s extra expense on top of my usual bills and day-to-day spending. Luckily, I’d put a little aside over the previous months so that I could afford to pay for any work that needed doing on the car and now I have a vehicle that will hopefully be usable for the coming year and I can start saving for next years tax and MOT!
I’ve also used my new shopping list pad to make sure that my food shop is as thrifty as possible. I’ve been writing down what meals I intend to cook during the week and only buying the ingredients for those specific meals. I’ve found that my supermarket bill has gone down a little and I’m not throwing out excess food because it all gets used up in the dishes. That doesn’t mean that I’ve not strayed from my list while shopping when I’ve seen a bargain: My favourite crackerbreads were reduced to less than half price because the packaging was being rebranded so I managed to buy every packet on the shelf. That may sound excessive but I eat this product every day for my lunch and I know that I will need them over the coming month so I’ve managed to save and buy in bulk. All this talk of food is making me hungry! And that’s another thing: I’ve been making sure that I’m not shopping while I’m hungry because I know that’s when I start grabbing crisps and cookies instead of sticking to my list.
Overall I’ve learnt that by simply keeping count of what I’ve been spending has made me a more careful spender. I’ll really think about it before making a purchase and I know how it’ll affect my bank balance before I buy it rather than getting a surprise statement at the end of the month. I’ll definitely stick with my #SpendingDairy and I’d love it if you have a go at keeping track of your finances too. Tweet me @Cassiefairy #SpendingDiary and let me know how you get on!