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Saving money doesn’t have to be hard

Feeling the pinch this month? Here are a few handy tips to help you stretch your pennies to the end of this month and beyond. 

Start budgeting

It can be very easy to spend more money than you have coming in. And this leads to the inevitable overdraft fees and credit card charges. Budgeting can give you an action plan and a clear picture of where your money is going to end up and it can help you avoid the problems that can occur when money is tight.

Make a list and start with the most important things first- food, shelter, transport etc. Once you have the necessities out of the way you can start filling in the other categories in your budget. If you have any debts that need to be paid off that should be a top priority. You should put a small amount of money aside for unexpected expenses throughout the month. That way if something comes up you can cover it without dipping into other budgeted savings. 

Sell some items

To earn some extra cash you should consider selling some items like clothing you don’t wear anymore or doesn’t fit. Websites like eBay, Depop, Etsy are some of the best and easiest ways you sell unwanted items. Or if you wanted you could take a more traditional approach in the old-fashioned boot sale. 

Make some cuts

Now would be a great time to cut out some expensive habits. If you smoke and you have been thinking about giving it up, now is the time. It isn’t just harmful to your health but it is also harmful to your pockets. For extra support, NHS Smokefree are offering a free quitting support service.

If you are still holding on to that gym membership you signed up to last January as part of your New Years resolution, but haven’t used it, it’s time to let it go. You could save yourself hundreds of pounds per year. If you’re not a regular gym go-er then switch that monthly payment to a pay as you go where you only pay a fee each time you work out.

You could also try having a dry January. The average British household spends more than £15 a week on alcohol according to the Office for National Statistics. By giving up alcohol for a month you could potentially be saving yourself £60.

Pack your own lunch

A lot of people spend most of their money on food. And this is an area where you can save yourself a lot of money. If you normally go out for lunch at work or buy food for lunch, you could save yourself some money by preparing some lunch at home. Instead of going to Costa or Starbucks for your morning coffee you could make coffee in the office. Or make some at home and put it in a flask.

Avoid eating takeaway too much. If you really fancy a takeaway switch to the supermarket version because most of the time they are a lot cheaper. Or you could make your own from scratch.

Before you go food shopping, check to see what you already have in your cupboards and freezer. There may be some unused foods. If you’re stuck on inspiration on what you could make with the ingredients in your kitchen myfridgefood.com allows you to tick the ingredients you already have and it will give you recipe suggestions. You may find it helpful to plan your meals in advance and create a shopping list with only the ingredients you need. 

Use an app

There is an app for everything these days. If you’re looking for some extra help/encouragement with your budgeting using an app might be the way to go. Apps such as Plum are designed to help you save money by linking to your current account and get an overview of how and when you spend your income. They then calculate how much you can afford to save each month and automatically move it into your savings account.

Apps like Squirrel can help you stretch your pounds by being a virtual reality piggy bank. You put your salary into a Squirrel controlled account and you specify how much you need for bills and how much you would like to save. Squirrel looks after your money, releasing money back into your account for bills the day before they are due. You can also enter specific savings goals such as holiday or Christmas. 

Moneybox rounds up on purchases made with your linked current account and taking and investing the difference. It is a good way to ease yourself into investing. 

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