Working out what your necessary spends are is a good way to understand how much you really need to spend each day, week or month. There are some things you won't be able to avoid – mortgage/rent, groceries, phone bills, plus public transport and petrol costs. Everything else, however, could be an optional spend you may be able to avoid.
Plan your meals and write a list of the foods you’ll need for the week, so you don't buy unnecessary groceries. It could also be worth trying to renegotiate your bills or consider switching providers.
To work out what’s an essential cost, write a list of all your expenses and mark the ones you can't give up. Minor adjustments might not look like much for that week but eventually, after months of saving, it can help grow your bank balance that little bit more.
Now is a great time to consider what you can buy that will save you money in the long run. It lets you feel like you’re splurging, but it’s in a practical way.
Having a home office allows you to claim all your work-from-home expenses on tax. It might be a smart move to set up your home office with a monitor, desk and chair.
It might also be time to reconsider your gym membership and use free online exercise programs to stay in shape, go for a run down your street or buy weights that you can continue to use in your own home.
If you're regularly buying coffee from the local cafe, it could be a good time to buy a coffee machine and save money over a long period instead. Instead of buying take away for most meals, invest in some cooking utensils and pots and learn to cook at home. Don't buy fresh herbs for every meal, grow them in your garden.
To be smart with money you've got to be aware of what your bank can provide, and what you might unknowingly be missing out on. Are you using its scheduling and transfer features so that you can keep on track of your spending? Are you on the highest interest rate? Are you missing out on savings rewards?
Sometimes when you're trying to save money, the little devil on your shoulder pushes you to look at what you're missing out on for a bit of harmless curiosity. This could mean heading to a shopping site to see what sales are going or to see if those shoes you wanted are back in stock.
The best thing to do when you're finding yourself doing this is to take a breath and stop yourself. Delete the app if that's going to help too. Going cold turkey sucks initially, but once the need for that instant gratification hit wears off, you'll find you never really needed anything you were searching for in the first place. Plus, you'll be able to use those savings for your essential spending budget, like food and internet.
If hanging out with your friends usually means going to a bar or restaurant, consider coming up with new ideas that don't require you to empty your savings.
Going for a walk somewhere is both a healthy and cost-free activity you can try out. If walking isn't your vibe, meet in an online chat for your lunch break or an after-work beverage. Sure, they might not sound as fun as a night out on the town, but the savings you make will be worth it.
With the rise of alternative payment methods online, new options have led people into the trap of accumulating debt under the guise of free products. Buy now, pay later methods allow you to pay for purchases in instalments, which is great if you're wanting to disperse payments across a longer period, but terrible if you're trying to save money.
It's best to forfeit these payment options while you're in savings mode and confront yourself with the reality of having to pay the full price upfront. If you wouldn't do that, you probably shouldn't defer it to next month either.
Saving money doesn't have to be a chore at the end of the day. With rational planning and a realistic outlook on your spending, you can still enjoy life while squirrelling some money away.
Check out the other articles that are part of this content partnership below, or see our range of other handy guides.
Learn how to bucket your money to make budgeting easier.
Get some handy tips to manage the subscriptions linked to your account.
Find out how to manage your money the moment it hits your account.
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