So, you want to spend less? Firstly, let me just reiterate that curbing your consumerism is not about frugality. I’ll explain; when you decide that you are overweight, you go on a diet. When you come off that diet, what happens? You put the weight back on, right? That is because the route cause of being overweight, is having an over indulgent lifestyle. It is the lifestyle that needs to be addressed, diets are temporary. It’s the same with saving money. If you enter into a phase of frugality, you are not addressing the issue of always being skint.
With that said, these are my top tips on changing your lifestyle, to reduce your spending:
1. Sell the car
I started with a biggie to get your attention. This isn’t for everyone, although it can add up to a terrific saving so should definitely be considered. Think of all the fuel, insurance, tax, MOTs, servicing that you will completely eradicate from your budget.
Perhaps you only need the car on occasion, could you use city car club instead?
Is it getting to work that’s the issue? Wouldn’t you be a lot fitter and healthier if you used a bike?
We are so conditioned into thinking that cars are a necessity. It’s not true, and I’m glad to see cars gradually becoming less of a status symbol. No one with any sense is impressed by your Subaru Impreza, although your mates cycling physic however, that’s another matter.
At the very least, do you need two cars in the household?
2. Cut down on non essential purchases
Ask yourself if you need the branded coffee before buying it. Could you wait till you get home or back to the office? These coffee and fast food purchases are habitual, and need to be un-tought. If you’re hooked on ‘real’ coffee, invest in a decent coffee machine, over the year you’ll still see a saving.
What about CDs and DVDs? They cost far too much money, and clutter up your house. Get a Spotify account for your music fill. If you are big on your films, perhaps it makes sense to join Love Film. It’s not all about making sacrifices, you can save a lot of money by asking yourself what the alternatives are.
3. Sell what you don’t need
Let’s face it, we’ve all been guilty of buying things that we don’t need. These items hang around in our living space as bad reminders, they take up our cupboard space and fall on us when we are reaching for the spare duvet on the top shelf. Take a look around today, and write a list of all the things that you don’t need. Then, next Saturday, take them to a charity shop, or put them up for auction on e-bay. You aren’t the person who used to waste money on frivolities anymore, and you don’t need to hang on to the reminders.
4. Get out of debt
All the time you are paying interest, you are cancelling out any interest you receive on savings. It’s no good sticking your head in the sand, if you have debt, you need to make it your first priority to get rid of it. Minimum payments are your enemy, read more about it minimum repayments on Money Saving Expert.
5. Don’t buy lottery tickets
I apologise if I’m going to shatter any illusions here. You are not going to win the lottery. It’s a cliché I know, although I’m going to say it anyway; you have more chance of getting struck by lightening than seeing your numbers come up. It your buying 2 lines a week on the lottery, that’s £208 a year that could be added to your savings fund.
6. Don’t get your veg from supermarkets
Supermarkets have their uses, some isles are cheap, although some are outrageously inflated. It makes me quite angry when I think of the price of groceries, wrapped in lashings of unnecessary packaging. I save at least £10 per week by shunning the supermarket when it comes to groceries.
7. Cook in bulk, freeze in portions
We all have busy lives, and for most of us, the thought of cooking a meal on a Friday night is hellish. We don’t need much convincing to reach for the phone to call for a delivery. If you are serious about a lifestyle change, then these moments of weakness, can and should be avoided. When you’re making spag bol, lasagna etc. make extra so that you can freeze it for a rainy day. Better still freeze it in portions, for those evenings that you find yourself on your own and can’t be bothered to cook for one.
8. Cut down on meat
I’ll happily eat meat when I’m in a restaurant, although I leave it off the shopping list at home. This is because I’ve come to see it as an unnecessary cost. Grains, beans, cheese, eggs, lentils, tofu and nuts are all perfectly good sources of protein. And guess what… they’re cheap, cheap, cheap. As a start, learn how to cook with these foods, and replace one meat meal a week. If you don’t have any decent recipes, you’ll be put off for life so try Jamie’s Quesadillas to get you going. http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetarian-recipes/quesadillas-with-guacamole
9. Make your own pasta sauces
On average, one jar of pasta sauce cost around £2, if you use a couple a week, that’s a whopping £208 a year. Relying on jars of Loyd Grossman, is only significantly quicker than making your own sauces, if you don’t know how to. Once you have a few easy recipes committed to memory, you’ll be equipped to make a killer saving on your shopping bill.
10. Grow your own herbs
Plucking fresh herbs from your windowsill is hugely satisfying. You don’t need a lot of space to grow an assortment of herbs to keep your dishes interesting all year round. A herb garden is the easiest area in which to be self sufficient. Whether you live in a country estate or an inner city flat, if you have natural light, you can grow herbs, and plenty more besides. Strawberries, peppers, tomatoes and chillis are just some of the plants you can grow without much space.
11. Quit the gym
Where is the satisfaction in running 5k on a treadmill? You haven’t gone anywhere! I know, it’s cold outside, so get yourself some running leggings and a waterproof running jacket with the money you save in the first month after quitting the gym. Cycle everywhere, hopping on your bike will soon become second nature, and the fitness benefits are immense. Have you ever seen a fat bike courier?