There are some cracking tips here. I particularly like Lesley_’s tip about transferring oddments into a savings account – it was posted nearly two years ago (I only joined this week) but I’m glad it’s there! I’m going to start doing that.
For my own money-saving tactics...
I cycle to work. This is by far my biggest money saver. I live in Roehampton, SW London and work in Holborn in the centre. It’s a round trip of 20 miles a day and keeps me quite fit, but more importantly it saves me around £120 a month on travel. Maintenance costs are minimal – I take very good care of my bike and have it serviced every year, which usually costs around £200 what with moving parts being replaced etc. And I’m not one of your fair-weather cyclists, oh no... All year round for me, in all weathers!
I bring my own lunch to work, which saves me around £5 a day. Buying your lunch in Central London isn’t cheap.
I do my weekly shopping at Asda. Not due to any economic reason or preference over any others, just because it’s nearest! I generally stick to the in-store brand (although avoid the Smart Price budget range as it’s awful) as it’s good quality stuff and no different to the branded stuff, but it is significantly cheaper. I keep my eye on the offers, although the point made in the above post about a ‘hike and drop’ approach is a very good one – you need to keep your eyes open with those. I generally try and keep my shopping within a set amount, and follow the “Do I need it?” mantra.
I also make use of their Price Guarantee scheme. I keep my receipt and enter the details on their website the day after my visit, and it compares what I spent with what it would have cost at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose. If what I spent comes to less than 10% cheaper (which it frequently does) I get a voucher, which I print off and take with me on my next visit, and it gets knocked off my bill. I’ve had anything from 16p (negligible) to £2.50 (decent), but every little helps. That’s Tesco’s motto, of course, but it applies here. I’ve yet to reach the giddy heights of £7.20, which a colleague showed me a few weeks ago, but that came from a monthly big shop.
My Voucher Codes is a handy app if you have a smartphone. It tells you which places around your location are offering deals of pretty much any sort, from two-for-one meal deals, hairdressing, cinema, mechanics... Anything at all. Their website is worth a visit.
I use Top Cashback for online purchases. It’s pretty much the same as Quidco. It’s always nice to get a return on doing what I’d do anyway, however minimal it may be. It all adds up.
My best investment was 99p on a little cash book from Rymans. In this I keep strict records of all my transactions. I hang on to my receipts and write it in – there’s a column for the date, money out, money in, balance, etc, so I have a running total of exactly how much I have in my account at any given time. I check it regularly against my account online to make sure the two tie in, and as transactions generally take a couple of days to show up online it’s actually a more immediate method of keeping everything in check to the penny. It’s very satisfying to do – even if the figures aren’t great, at least I know what they are and am in control of them, which is important.
Alongside this, on a separate notepad, each month I write out a checklist of what needs to go out – rent, bills, council tax etc – subtract the total from what’s coming in, and the figure that leaves me with is the figure I have to stay well within on that month’s expenditure. All my expenditure is written out as I go along, with a running total so I know exactly where I am. Obvious stuff, I know, and probably no different to what everyone else here does with their own accounts. The main thing for me, and I guess for everyone else, is the feeling of being in control of my money and being able to account for every single penny at any given time. For too long, I certainly didn’t feel in control at all, and it’s a horrible feeling. And there’s something comforting and satisfying about maintaining handwritten records.
IVA? Best financial decision I ever made.