I'm currently undertaking a long and arduous task: I'm paying off my debts.
2015 was by far the most expensive year of my life. I was in the first proper year of home ownership, I got married, I went on honeymoon. I racked up a fair amount of debt across the year which comprised mainly of secured debts like 0% finance agreements to pay for wedding rings, for example. I'm now paying those debts back which feels really good but it's meant that I've had to really look into what I'm spending money on with much more detail (turns out that the the majority of the spending went on "literally pointless crap" and that I'm pretty much a magpie with longer hair). I found a few simple ways to save some money that I thought I would share:
- Switch up your energy providers: You might have been with BT Broadband for a few years because the speeds are good. Are you sure you're still getting the best deal? Call up and ask them when you can switch providers or tell them that you're looking at going elsewhere because their pricing isn't competitive. Sky just reduced my bill from £40 a month to £27 a month for the same service because I told them I was going to Virgin. (Useful hint: you can get the same speed broadband from pretty much any provider: the fiber or telephone lines are the thing that dictates the internet speed, your provider may just be capping it as per your contract).
- Close down your store cards: I am the effing Queen of impulse buying. New lipstick on the Benefit Twitter page? It's mine. Going out this weekend? New outfit for Sian. Shutting down your store card credit lines means that it's more difficult to impulse buy all that pointless crap that you regret buying as soon as it arrives. It means that to buy something you have to have the actual money in the bank, and that always hurts a little bit more doesn't it?
- Have a 'Sit Down Look' at your outgoings: Sit down at a PC and create an Excel spreadsheet that lists every single outgoing you have. Use a pen and paper if the thought of using Excel formulas puts you off. List out everything that you pay for on a monthly basis: your phone contract, car insurance, road tax, credit card direct debits, your home insurance, Netflix and your store card payments. Yes, it's going to be bloody terrifying, but you'll also be able to take a holistic view of your outgoings and identify your problem areas. I recently realised that I was spending £20 per month on insurance that I had no use for. I was also able to work out that I could quickly pay off a few store cards to give myself more of a disposable income for next month. Yes, it's dull, but it's the most helpful thing I've done this year.
- Organise your food shops: I looked at my card statement last month and I was so pissed off at how much money I'd spent on poorly organised meals. I was doing a Tesco shop to be delivered on a Friday then spending all weekend out eating with my family or friends, and then the Tesco food would go to waste so I'd go back and hit up Waitrose on the way home from work each night between Tuesday and Friday. When, inevitably, I couldn't be bothered to go to the supermarket I'd order a takeout at £20 a pop. This month, I've been using Sundays to cook up a load of food (chillis, bolognese, soups, stews) and freezing them. I've also been making sure that every single shop I do is at Tesco because my Clubcard points have really been adding up (especially if you fill your car up at a Tesco petrol station!). I regularly get vouchers for £10-£15 off my weekly shop from Tesco which is really handy.
- Cut back on frivolous spending: This is the most difficult thing for me because life without wine isn't really life IMO. However, cutting back on nights down the pub doesn't mean that you have to adopt the life of a crazy cat lady eating crisps in bed in the dark and speaking to nobody with episodes of Friends rolling for 6 hours at a time (that sounds amazing though right?). Organise a Friday night in with friends where you cook something tasty together and everyone brings their own drinks. Be the designated driver for a night and you can easily save yourself £30 that you would have spent on drinks. Yeah, of course that's not as fun, but it feels really bloody good the morning after if you can convince yourself to commit to a wineless life for a few hours.