As much as we don't realise it we're all guilty of the small purchases such as being a sweet treat or a new item of clothing. These purchases soon add up and you're left sitting there going through your statement wondering how all of these small purchases amounted to so much. In our minds we justify these purchases as being "small" but in reality they're just a constant cycle of spending in which leaves us with less money then we'd like.
I went through my statement one day and realised that I needed to cut down my expenses in order to afford all of the holidays I wanted to go on. A month later I had already saved around £200 by cutting back and limiting the amount of items I bought as well as making my money last longer by cancelling subscriptions I never used. In 15 easy steps you could easily cut down your expenses, if not saving more than I did, leaving you with more money to put away for your travels.
1. Travelling - Saving £50 a month
I love the transport in London since it's cheap, quick and efficient but it comes at a price. With a single tube and bus journey starting from £1.50, these purchases can soon add up with a minimum of £3 being spent daily to commute to and from work. This doesn't even include transport for going out on weekends or any other activities during the week. Taxis are also money consuming, even though they are useful in helping me get from one place to another in comfort and with added privacy, these journeys can start from around £5 and cost upwards of £20. I started to walk to work, which saved me £3 a day on travel, as well as helping me get fitter and allowing me to enjoy the wonderful weather London has at the moment. Rather than getting a taxi I use the bus or tube, even though it costs £1.50, it's much better than it costing nearly quadruple the price in a taxi.
2. Generic vs Named Brands - Saving £10-30 a month
This is something that can save money very quickly since it can be used in all aspects of life: food, clothing, medicines, toiletries as well as cleaning products. Even though I wouldn't go as far to make ever single food item an supermarket brand, there are some food items such as pasta that are a lot cheaper than branded as I've seen 500g of penne pasta for just 30p. Many clothing brands boast about their reputation and their name being recognisable yet these items are overpriced and can be bought in other clothing retailers for better than half the price (just without the logo). My favourite way of saving is buying own branded medicine, this has easily saved me money since I constantly suffer with headaches I buy a pack of paracetamol being 30p for 16 capsules rather than branded names being around £3/4. They both do the same job in my opinion and there is no point spending more money than necessary on something only you will see.
3. Food & Drink - Saving £50 a month
As much as it seems unrealistic to save £50 solely on food and drink, it is very easy once you start to cut out the obvious yet unimportant things. I used to buy a bottle of water when I was at work since it would be cold and it would save me the effort of doing this at home. When I counted up how much I had spent on water alone, it came to just over £25. I nearly cried when I had seen that I had spent that much on water and then decided I would reuse a bottle from work and fill the water from a jug (that filters the water) from my fridge. Since I currently work in a supermarket, it has it perks, since I finish work the same time second reductions have begun. This meaning I'm able to get at least 75% from the retail price from items such as fruits and vegetables to a whole leg of lamb. As much as people argue that this food is "bad" since it's expiring that day, there is no harm in freezing it and then defrosting it when it's needed. Some of my friends have even got £80 worth of shopping for less than £15 since they shopped just before closing when supermarkets are desperate to get rid of food expiring that day.
4. Do you really need those ______ ? - Saving £20-40 a month
Do you really need those shoes? Do you? Do you really need them when you have dozens of pairs at home? These are the questions I ask myself now when shopping since I'm one of those people who impulse buys since they "need" that certain item. Unless my clothes have ripped or my shoes have holes in them, I don't need to buy anymore than I need to - when something rips or breaks then replace it, don't buy something you don't need and might not wear. When going through my wardrobe I had found tons of tops and dresses that I didn't even know I had, which led me to have a massive clear out of the clothes I wore and the ones I didn't, with the clothes I didn't wear either going to charity or being sold.
5. Doing your own beauty treatments - Saving £30 a month
I love feeling pampered by going to get a manicure and a pedicure done, yet I don't feel pampered when I see the hefty price tag that comes along with it. The salon I have been going to for years charges around £15 for a manicure and pedicure, which I admit is cheap, yet soon adds up when this is done once or twice a month. To save money I bought a nail varnish colour and a nail hardener, which was as cheap as £3 for both items, which allowed me to do my nails whenever I wanted to since I could do it from the comfort of my own home and without paying out each time. Another way I learnt to save money was to do my own waxing, admittedly the lady I go to is a professional, when I go on holiday I could spend up to £50 on waxing (I'm very ashamed to admit that). To change this I bought waxing strips from a health and beauty retailer and braved the pain, which first time left me with a waxing strip stuck to my leg and me in tears trying to rip it off without bringing my skin with it. Regardless over time I began to get better and the results were similar to those of a salon.
6. Gym Membership - Saving £30 a month
When joining the gym I was surprised to find out I had to pay £20 upfront as well as paying £27.99 a month for the membership. The gym was about a 20 minute walk from my house, that alone being a task in itself, put me off going when it was raining or if the weather forecast said it would rain later on. The equipment itself in the gym is worth the money but when walking through a park nearby my house one day I found similar equipment in a section dedicated to being an outdoor gym. I then cancelled my gym membership and started going to this gym, not only was it completely free but I was able to go there whenever I wanted to since it was so close to my house. Another great thing is that you're not cooped up inside with the smell of sweat filling the air but unfortunately this means you're stuck indoors if it begins to rain.
7. Going Out (Or Should I Say Staying In) - Saving £20 a month
Living in London is very expensive. I mean very very expensive. With restaurants costing around £15-20 per person for a main course and either a starter or dessert as well as a drink, these outings can come at a price if done frequently. Why go out for a meal when you can cook for your friends from your home, you could even make it so that each week or each fortnight you take turns to cook for each other. Not only is this an easy way to save money but it means you get to spend time with your friends in an intimate place where you can watch a film or even just talk privately without being surrounded by music and other guests. With this meal you could also bring a bottle of wine, if you and your friends drink, since pubs charge ridiculous amounts for a single glass (so much that you could buy the bottle of wine for that price). I remember the first time I bought a drink from the pub became my last, when ordering a single vodka and coke I was charged £4.50, I could hear my debit card crying when I had finished paying for it. Let me tell you it was my only drink that night, preferably since I wasn't about to spend £4.50 on another one.
8. Smoking, Energy Drinks, Fast Food & Coffee - Saving £10-50 a month (depending on if you smoke, eat fast food or drink coffee or energy drinks)
Smoking is a very expensive habit, I'm not going to suggest giving up smoking straight away since I know it's a very difficult habit to give up as many of my friends and family members smoke. However, smoking is detrimental to your health as well as your wallet since a pack of 20 cigarettes can cost up to £12, even the cheaper packets are around £8.50. If you started to reduce the amount you smoke even by a packet a week, that can save nearly £10 a week which then leads to you to saving £40 a month. The same goes for energy drinks and fast food, as much as they're a purchase of habit, I find they're not the best for your body. I gave up fast food around a year ago as well as cutting down my energy drink intake and it has made my health much better as well as my bank balance.
9. Only Use Cash When Going Out - Saving £25 a month
As mentioned before I'm an impulse buyer, I won't worry about the price until I read it on my statement and then regret it. Since technology has evolved people are now able to pay for items with just a tap of a card - no hassle of putting in your card and entering your pin. This makes it even easier to buy items since in the time it takes for the payment to be verified, your brain still hasn't thought of the actual money being spent. If you bring £20 out with you and see something for £25, that's tough. You'll just have to put it back and come back when you have enough money (don't steal it). This limiting what you can buy with just physical cash and preventing you from spending tons of money on a day out, in which you could do if you had your debit card on you.
10. Sharing a House/Living at Home - Saving upwards of £200 a month
Some people are afraid to admit they live at home, not me, I'm proud to say I live at home since being single and at the time of writing this blog post I'm 18 - I don't have enough to even think of moving out and no reason to. I pay for all my own bills and pay my parents housekeeping each month which contributes towards food and household bills but this is a lot cheaper than the rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in London. Another cheaper alternative would be living with friends since it would mean bills get split between more people which then makes it a lot cheaper.
11. Phone Plan - Saving £5-10 a month
When looking for phones and tariffs that go along with them, it's important to think about whether it's cheaper to buy the phone and the tariff separately or buying it as part of a contract. With my phone tariff, which is £26 a month for an iPhone SE with unlimited calls and texts as well as 4GB of data each month, which I consider good value for money as I make a lot of phone calls and text a lot of people. My contract lasts 12 months so in these months it would have cost me £312 for the phone and the tariff through my contract. If I had bought the phone by itself it would have cost me around £270 and the tariff being around £10 each month which altogether would have cost me £390 - saving me around £80 altogether.
12. Second Hand Items - Saving £5-10 a month
There is absolutely nothing wrong with second hand items, whether they're from a charity shop or a library, they still are fit for their purpose but just might not look in the best condition. One of my favourite things to do on a hot day in London is sit in the park and read but books that are brand new can cost between £5 and £10, which would be costly in the long run. For this price I could buy around 5 books from a charity shop and then pass them on to a friend or donate them back to a charity shop. Another alternative which is completely free is borrowing books from a library however these have a limited time frame in which they need to be read in and returned by.
13. Cinema Pass - Saving £60 a month
I love going to the cinema, whether it be to watch a horror movie or a comedy, it's something I do more than once a week. Nevertheless, going to the cinema has become very expensive with a ticket for an adult costing around £12, a ridiculous amount to see a film that on average lasts around an hour and a half. I purchased a Odeon Limitless Pass which costs me £17.99 a month and I can see an unlimited amount of movies, with restrictions of course, but still it's very good value for money. When I purchased this I went to the cinema twice in one day, so in one day I had already gotten my money back for the month plus more towards next month. In September 2017 I watched 11 films, which should have cost me around £132 but only cost me £17.99 since I had used my Limitless Pass.
14. Bringing Your Own Lunch To Work - Saving £60 a month
Meal deals, which usually consist of a sandwich, a drink and a bag of crisps, usually cost about £3. As much as these tend to be good value for money, they can be an unsurprising weight on your bank account. If you spent £3 each day for 5 days during the week, it would cost around £15 (not much so far considering what you get) but if you done this every week for a month it would then cost around £60 (that is a lot for sandwiches, crisps and a drink). Instead of paying £3 for a meal deal I bring my own lunch to work, this consists of a sandwich, a drink (which was bought as a multi pack) and a bag of crisps (which was also bought as a multi pack) which brings my total cost of lunch each day to less than 50p. This saves me the time and effort in work of going back onto the shop floor and figuring out what I wanted to buy, which has wasted nearly a third of my break in the past.
15. The best things in life are free! - Saving £20 a month
I enjoy going out at the weekend since it gives me a chance to do something other than work. In London activities tend to be on the more expensive side but there are hundreds of interesting and enjoyable activities to do in London that cost absolutely nothing. Museums that are free include the National Gallery and The Science Museum as well as talking a walk along South Bank. There are hundreds of parks around London that not only are free but host some of the best views of London.
Some of these tips may seem completely obvious but some of us are so unaware of how much we're spending due to habit of doing it. Even cutting back on the smallest of things can save at least £50 a month towards a holiday or your travels, this equates to £600 a year in which I could get two and a half holidays out of (including flights, hotels and activities).
Tips and tricks for all aspects of travelling, most of which include saving money.