10 Painless Ways To Cut Costs
Apps.. new habits.. it’s quick to make changes that really work
1. Be smart with your bills
In the past, household bills like water, gas and electricity were pretty much set in stone. But these days there’s often wriggle room, as there are so many providers vying for your custom. Set aside to phone each of your service providers and ask how you could cut your bills: you’d be surprised how many deals and options are out there. If they won’t budge, say you’re going to go over to another supplier. If they still won’t budge, then do go over to another supplier! The market is there for you the consumer to play to your advantage.
2. Shop like a pro
Use your nose and don’t get sucked in by apparently brilliant deals: they’re nearly always a con. Marketers know that it pays (for them) to play on our fear of missing out, so you’ll often see phrases like “last chance!” “limited supply only” or “order now to avoid disappointment”. These tricks are just that and are absolutely not there to help you make good decisions. Good shopping decisions take time, so consider making a rule when browsing online that you’ll wait 24 hours before hitting “complete purchase”, to filter out those late-night, emotional buys that you’ll regret in the morning.
3. Travel for less
We all need a holiday sometimes, and when you’re budgeting it can seem like a week in the sun is out of the question. But there are so many awesome ways to see the world without it costing the earth! Self-catering accommodation is always a winner: compare Airbnb in an expensive city with a hotel in a similar area. It’s a no-brainer. And have you considered a home swap? The Guardian website and others facilitate this safely and efficiently. And don’t rule out holidaying in the UK… there are some gorgeous beaches, thrilling outdoors adventures and slick city experiences to be had right here on our doorstep for the price of a tank of petrol.
4. The daily grind
It’s hard to believe but 20 years ago there were not several coffee outlets on every high street. And what cafes there were did not serve a range of a dozen or more caffeinated drinks with everything from cinnamon to skinny almond milk as an option. Not to mention all those tempting cakes and pastries. For most of us, it’s impossible to get from home to work without the temptation of a warming pint of breakfast brew. But – and we hate to sound like your granny here - it’s sooooo expensive. You’re probably spending literally thousands of pounds a year on coffee. We know mornings are hard and you need a treat, but try cutting your Starbucks habit for half the week at least, and make coffee at home or take advantage of the free stuff at work. And have you heard that if you bring a re-usable cup to Pret and get a plain white filter coffee it’s only 49p?
5. Use an app
Simply download one of the excellent budgeting apps like You Need a Budget (YNAB), Emma, Plum, MoneyBox, Chip! They are designed to help you stay in control of your daily, weekly and monthly funds by reminding you where you’re over-spending and suggesting ways to economise. An app will also encourage you to establish your financial goals, and that, as we’re always saying, is the bedrock of your journey to money wisdom.
6. Work more
OK bear with us on this one… it’s only for the short term. If you’re in dire need of cost-cutting, why not curtail your leisure hours for a while so you have less chance to spend money? Taking on more professional projects or even volunteering in your spare time can only be good for your CV, and is bound to boost your confidence by allowing you to pack in more experience, make more contacts and even discover a new area of work that appeals to you. And as long as you’re not at home browsing Amazon, hitting the shops or eating out… you’re saving money!
7. Hack your car
Few people know this, but it’s actually possible to drive cheaper! By cutting your speed, maintaining a steady pace, removing that heavy roof-rack and not going down through all the gears when breaking, you’ll be using less gas. Add to this the fact that many supermarkets will give you up to 10p off per gallon if you fill up at one of their own branded petrol stations, and you could be saving hundreds of pounds a year with very little effort at all.
8. Keep fit for free
Have you noticed all those outdoor gyms popping up in parks and recreation grounds? They’re there for a reason: to help people get fit for free. Expensive gym memberships can be a real drain on your finances, so consider taking a few months off and mixing it up with some outdoor exercise and maybe a few exercise videos done at home (ever heard of Youtube?). It’s so much better for the soul to work out in the great outdoors… if you can’t bear to give up your gym pass, shop around for deals and consider a class pass that lets you turn up at any fitness centre, wherever you are, at your convenience: that way you’ll be more likely to get full use out of your monthly health club bill.
9. Check your council tax
According to The Money Advice Service, up to 400,000 households have been assigned the wrong council tax band. So it’s not impossible that hefty bill you always dread getting is incorrect, and you could be looking at an unexpected budget bonus. It only takes a few minutes to check your status and appeal an incorrect amount. Check out the step by step guide here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/council-tax-bands-change/
10. How are you feeling?
OK, this is the big one. The fact is, the root of a lot of our money problems is in our unhealthy emotional attitude to spending and saving. We all feel worthless at times, or nervous, and it’s so tempting - especially with those manipulative marketing experts playing on our insecurities – to shop our way out of trouble. How sweet it feels to treat yourself to a new lipstick or a fab pair of shoes when the chips are down! But the thrill doesn’t last long, and then you’re left with less money the following month, when those bills come in. Which will lead to feeling hopeless with money and nervous… so the cycle begins again. The cause of your negative feelings might be to do with your past or your present situation. The way through them long-term might be therapy, a bit of professional financial advice or even changing your job or lifestyle to help realise your dreams. With specific regard to money, nurturing a growth mindset is easier than you might think (search Vestpod for our previous posts on that). But the main lesson here is to recognize that your emotions are controlling your money habits, and resolve to try to separate the two. And yes, it’s a cliché, but the things that will really boost your wellbeing can’t be bought and don’t come in a range of sparkly colours: they’re doing things for other people, nurturing your close relationships, spending time outdoors and practicing meditation. Do a bit more of that and we promise you’ll make fewer mad impulse purchases, buy fewer pick-me-up coffees, and be well on your way to cutting the cost of everyday life.