Research announced last month found that one in every eleven people, or 4.5 million Brits have less than £10 a month after they have paid their essential bills. One in four of those surveyed by thinkmoney found that they had less than £50 disposable income after bills.
With gloomy January promising the post-Christmas credit card bill and energy prices at an all-time high, take control of your finances and stretch your disposable income in 2014 by following these money saving tips.
Cut it out
New Year, new you? Kick costly habits, if you’re not able to manage that quite yet – just halve it!
Even a ten a day habit will cost you around £28 a week, £112 per month and £1,460 a year. It may be worth calculating what percentage of that is your salary, for example, if you’re on £18,000, that’s a whole month of wages each year spent on cigarettes. As well as the huge financial benefits you could be gearing yourself towards making a life-changing health decision.
Buying lunch out
Although a Boots meal deal will seem like a bargain (a drink, a sandwich and a snack for just £3.30) buying one every day will add up. Not taking a packed lunch to work could cost you upward of £16.50 a week, which is 71.50 a month and a massive £858.33 a year.
Say your daily pick-me-up costs £2.50. Five times a week that will cost you only £12.50 a week. However, this soon mounts up to a significant £55 a month and £650 each year. Essentially the equivalent of an all-inclusive week on holiday in a sunny destination!
Do you need it? Are there cheaper alternatives and is it worth its money. Often people will continue spending simply out of habit and often not question their outgoings.
Do you really need to be spending £50pcm for your phone? Ok, so it might be the latest model, but how long will most-up-to-date status last? The more cutting-edge the technology of the phone the quicker it will depreciate. Most brands including Samsung or Apple offer a cheaper version of their expensive handsets and many of the middle of the road models have similar capabilities to the latest phones on the market. Consider this before you go for the most swish handset.
Are you using all of your texts and minutes, do you even need a new phone? Consider buying the handset outright and going pay as you go so you can see exactly how much you are spending. Giff Gaff is a fantastic rolling sim offer that allows you to adjust your monthly spend allowing you to receive the flexibility of Pay As You Go and the value of contract.
How much are you really using the gym? The average £40 a month will equate to a staggering £480 annual bill. But, remember, it’s only expensive if you don’t go… attending twice a week costs a reasonable £5 each session. Once a week a costly £10. If you only go once in a month that half hour run on the treadmill and round of the weights cost you a whopping £40. Think carefully before you sign up, especially if you’re contracted for a year.
A greener solution to your exercise woes could be walking to work. It is such a simple option if you live within an hour’s walking distance from your office. Getting out of the house and waking more to places is an excellent way to stay active and see more of your neighbourhood.
Is your cable package really worth it? Do you watch all the channels you are paying for, or find time to watch any of them? If not, or you’re using the service purely for its recording capabilities, consider switching to freeview and investing in a recording box or simply streaming demand television from your computer. Most of this is online, for free.
Shop around and see if you can find any cheaper energy providers. Costs for gas and electricity are at their highest ever and even if the bill is only reduced by a small percentage, this could make a huge difference to your yearly bills. Switching your provider could save up to £300. Try websites like Uswitch to see where you can save your pennies.
Smaller eco-friendly changes to your lifestyle will benefit the planet and your pocket. Ensure unsused power is turned off at the plug, install energy efficient bulbs throughout your home and make sure they are switched off when the room is not occupied. The energy saving trust says, “Replacing just one traditional bulb with an energy saving light bulb can save you on average £3 a year – and by swapping all your inefficient bulbs in your home you could save around £55 a year.” Make sure when appliances are replaced in your home that they are energy efficient and safe, tested by electrical test equipment and marked with an energy rating of A.
To find out where else you could be making savings try out the Money Advice Service Cut-Back Calculator.
By Katherine Ogilvie
Edited by Helen Kinsella
Image sourced: Tom Smalltagsgreen livingsaving money