Ok, cards on the table, I decided on 15 tips before I’ve actually compiled them, so if some of them are a bit…dubious (NOTE: this somehow ended up being a near 2000 worder, mainly because I wang on a lot about premium fuel), I can only apologise. Some I’m quite proud of, though, mainly because I made ’em up myself and haven’t seen ’em elsewhere.
I like my tips to be what I call ‘minimally actionable’. By this, I mean that they’re steps you can actually implement, rather than being vague like ‘cut money out of your budget’ (NO? Really??) or a personal favourite ‘make more money’. I’m gonna need more than that, love. Then there are those personal finance gurus that are all about selling all your stuff on eBay. Personally, I find that the effort involved is never reflected in the money earned. I also shy away from tips like ‘ask for a pay rise’ or start your own business’.
Then there are those personal finance gurus that are all about selling all your stuff on eBay. Personally, I find that the effort involved is never reflected in the money earned. I also shy away from tips like ‘ask for a pay rise’ or start your own business’.
I’m not saying they’re bad tips. They’re AWESOME tips. But I like a lazy tip. I love reading about things like Fulfilled by Amazon and Matched Betting – they’re great, lucrative avenues for a lot of people, just not me.
I, for example, love writing and make a bit of cash on Textbroker (although there’s not a lot of work available atm) but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. It takes a while to be approved and if you don’t like writing/find it strenuous there’s no way you’d write a 1000-word article for a tenner. I, however, enjoy it and have learned a load of new stuff about things like PAT-testing, smoke alarms and how to score the best student accommodation in Edinburgh.
On to the tips!
1 – Use your council tax break
This on is UK-centric, but it’s good. You get the option (I think) of paying your council tax in installments of 10 payments a year or 12. We pick the 10 payments option and get February and March ‘off’. We use the February and March money to pay our car tax and insurance. Since it’s worked into our budget anyway, it doesn’t feel like we’re paying any extra. Boom. This sounds fairly obvious, but a few years ago we used to treat that money as ‘extra’ and blow it on crap. That mindset makes me cringe now.
2- Get a cheap hobby
Mine is currently hand lettering, but also consider drawing, reading or walking. I’m a nightmare for spending money because I’m bored. Alleviate that boredom in a cheap, constructive way. Or binge watch something long on Netflix – I recommend Gilmore Girls and Once Upon A Time. Embarrassingly enough, I’m rather partial to a charity-shop jigsaw.
3 – Cut down on your clutter
Sell it if you can be arsed, but also feel free to give it away (stick your clutter in front of your house with a sign saying that it’s free) or even set it on fire (stay safe, guys). The thing about chucking stuff out is that it makes your house look so lovely.
Get yourself some cheap fairy lights and bask at how beautiful and calm your house looks, now you’ve ridded yourself of all the crap. You’ll be less likely to buy crap and ruin your new, minimal aesthetic. Consider getting rid of extra storage for things like CDs, you’ll be less likely to buy more. If you’re house looks and feels cosy and tidy, you’ll be more likely to want to stay in it, rather than going outside. It’s outside where you spend your money.
4 – Eat more carbs
They’re cheap. Brown rice, Wholegrain pasta…serve with tomatoey sauces and chickpeas. Cheap, filling, healthy and tasty. Or just bread. Eat more sandwiches – they’re popular for a reason. Oh – and potatoes.
5 – Go places where you can’t spend money
That’s why I love volunteering for Blue Cross so much (we literally just take a dog for a walk – I’m not blowing my own trumpet – Im pretty sure we love it just as much, if not more than the dogs do). We go to places like the beach and our local deer park, where there just isn’t the opportunity to spend money. The only shops are cafes which we can’t use because we have a muddy dog (and are probs muddy ourselves). Winner.
6 – Turn down your thermostat
Just a degree or two. I’ll wait whilst you go and do it…
…there now, wasn’t that easy. You’ve just saved yourself a bit of cash. WELL DONE YOU. If you’re cold, grab the duvet or man up, you wuss.
7 – Stay in more
If you think the best way to drink wine is in a cosy little wine bar, let me tell you that you’re wrong. It may beat drinking it on your sofa but the absolute best place to have a glass of wine is tucked up in bed with a book or a Harry Potter film. If you think I’m wrong, I’m not. Promise.
8 – Turn off your data
Just turn it on when you need it. If you need, for example i-message on all the time, only enable data on the apps you need – keep the others as wifi only.
9 – Only eat out of you have a discount code
It’s amazing this becomes the norm. It’s rare for there not be voucher for at least one of these eateries: Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquitos, Pizza Express or Prezzo. Obviously, don’t feel obligated to do this for special occasions, but if you fancy an impromptu dinner out get yo’self a voucher.
10 – Only buy these products if they’re on offer
- shower gel – I like Soap & Glory – it lasts forever, is cruelty free and always on 3 for 2
- Shampoo/conditioner- I always get mega-sizes from TK Maxx
- Bathroom/kitchen cleaner – I’m kind of a snob and like branded ones, but you can get them for £1 – I normally get a few.
- Washing powder/fabric conditioner – if you’re UK-based try B&M, they do great deals
- Washing up liquid – B&M does catering packs for suuuper cheap
- Bottled water
- Anything online if you can help it – if it’s not on sale, at least try to get free delivery. Often if you put something in your basket and leave it, the company will email you a voucher – top tip right there.
11 – Switch to premium fuel
Every fourth time or so you fill your petrol/diesel tank, use premium fuel. This will help your engine stay in tip-top shape and make it last longer. Now, the problem with tips like this is that there’s no way to work out how much you’ve saved because you can’t check how long the car would have lasted if you’d have used normal fuel. HOWEVER premium fuel increases the mileage of our car by about 200 miles per tank compared to supermarket or normal fuel.
Not too shabby.
So the extra money we paid for the fuel is more than covered by the extra mileage we got. The reason we only use premium every fourth fill-up is because that’s the longest you can go between using it for the effectiveness to continue.
I’m not entirely sure why, if I’m honest – we just trust the research we did and it works for us. If you choose to always use premium, that’s still cheaper than always using normal fuel, but you don’t need to use it every time for it to keep your car’s engine happy. We steer clear of supermarket fuel if possible because it isn’t good for your car – it’s cheap for a reason.
Not too shabby.
So the extra money we paid for the fuel is more than covered by the extra mileage we got. The reason we only use premium every fourth fill-up is because that’s the longest you can go between using it for the effectiveness to continue. I’m not entirely sure why, if I’m honest – we just trust the research we did and it works for us. If you choose to always use premium, that’s still cheaper than always using normal fuel, but you don’t need to use it every time for it to keep your car’s engine happy. We steer clear of supermarket fuel if possible because it isn’t good for your car – it’s cheap for a reason.
12 – Carry cash
Not exclusively, but get into the habit of having at least a bit. It’ll stop doing an impromptu £20-on-crap shop at the supermarket if you only have the £2 you need for the bread you went in to buy
13 – Don’t have a credit card
Or a loan, apart from maybe a mortgage. Read why here. There’s no point paying interest just because you’re too impatient to save up. Saving is a skill well worth honing, as is delayed gratification.
14 – Save your coppers
Preferably in copper form, so you won’t spend them. Pick them up off the ground. Let them build up, then treat yo’self.
15 – Stop buying these things
- Scented candles.
- Nail polish (if you HAVE to, get the Barry M ones when they’re on 3 for 2).
- CDS and DVDs. Download them if you must, but I prefer to use a streaming service like Spotify. My absolute favourite is Amazon Prime, which comes with Amazon Instant Video (basically Netflix with different programmes and films) and Amazon Music (basically a less-extensive version of Spotify, but it improves week by week. All for the princely sum of £80 a year. Oh, and you get free next day delivery from Amazon. I have affiliates links, but Amazon Prime is a service I wouldn’t be without.
If you can’t live with some of these things, go for it – I’m not your mum. They just happen to be things that I can’t justify spending money on. Candles are no replacement for the freshness you get from opening a window. Nail polish is something women tend to hoard when in reality you only really need about 5.
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In case you’re interested, my only source of income on this blog is affiliate links, plus one solitary Amazon sidebar ad (I used to have Adsense and Media.net, but I don’t like the way they look, and I made about 60p on them in nearly 6 months. Trust me, making a full time income from a blog takes a serious amount of hustling, so if you don’t do it primarily because you love at least one aspect of it, don’t bother. If you are interested in starting a blog read this post and/or google Melyssa Griffin – she’s a god-like figure in the blogging world.