Whilst stressing that I’m by no means a financial expert, I have definitely taken the bull by the horns with my finances this year (after years of burying my head in the sand and avoiding looking at my bank balance as much as possible). So, I thought I’d share five small things that you can do today to improve your financial situation and hold on to your hard-earned money just that little bit more.
Delete any marketing emails as soon as you see them.
Don’t even open them! You don’t need it. Get rid.
I get a weird sense of satisfaction from swiping them away on my phone now, knowing that my money’s staying in my account and not on stuff that I don’t even need.
Only go online shopping when you’ve got a need and a pre-prepared shopping list. (I genuinely have a spreadsheet especially for this with the frequency of when I need to buy things… Yeah, I know it’s a bit too ‘Monica-From-Friends’ but I can’t help it.)
Download a budgeting app.
If the idea of budgeting using a spreadsheet sends you into a cold sweat, or makes you want to doze off immediately, you could always try a budgeting app.
I use Emma, which I’ve found to be really helpful so far. It’s easier to get a good glimpse of how much money I have in total across accounts (both current and savings) and with different banks, plus it works out how much of my monthly budget I have left after Direct Debits etc. So handy and simple to use. (They are FSCS protected, so you’ve got peace of mind that they’re regulated whilst having access to your account information.)
If you can, switch on a rounding-up/skimming service.
Over the past few months, I’ve played around with challenger banks, Monzo and Starling Bank, which both have this skimming feature. Other, more traditional banks, like Lloyds, Halifax, and Bank of Scotland have a similar feature called ‘Save The Change‘ too.
What it does is rounds up your debit card purchases to the nearest pound and pops it into a savings pot – or with the three traditional banks, into a proper savings account with interest and everything. So, say you spent £2.80 on a coffee, it would round it up to £3 and put 20p aside into your savings. It’s such a simple feature, but I love how easy it is to save this way.
There are also apps that you can get that do this, amongst other things, like Plum, and Chip. Which neatly brings me to my next point…
Download an automatic saving app.
There are apps out there like Plum and Chip which save money automatically for you. (They’re regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority but not protected by the FSCS.) What they do is use an algorithm to predict how much money you can generally afford to spare each week/month and then they take it out of your bank account using a Direct Debit. They collect it into a pot for you in their app, and when you’re ready, you can withdraw it and it’ll go back into your bank account.
It might not be for everyone – to be honest, I have tried Plum and stopped using it after a few weeks because it kept taking out money that I was intending to use for other things. (Plus, there is a slight delay – a working day or two – in getting the money back into your account, which made me slightly nervous!) That aside, apps like this can be great for those of us who never think to siphon off some money into our savings accounts.
“It’s important to maintain a healthy dose of cynicism online these days, particularly on Instagram.”
Unfollow certain people on social media.
If you follow a particular influencer or blogger who makes you feel inadequate, unfollow them. I mean, that’s good advice anyway. But, if you’re no longer following them, you’re no longer tempted to buy their merch or products or even try to compete with them. You’ll no longer be comparing yourself to them, which won’t just make you feel less inclined to spend to keep up with them (if you are doing), but you’ll also generally feel a whole letter better anyway.
I’ve written before about how being a blogger, and following bloggers who’ve lived opulent lives over the past few years, had encouraged me to spend way more on makeup than I ever would have before I started blogging. If I could go back in time, I would’ve just unfollowed them instead of spending £25 on a lipstick that’s long disappeared in a handbag somewhere, or by spending £20 on a skincare staple that I wasn’t enamoured with. It’s important to maintain a healthy dose of cynicism online these days, particularly on Instagram.
Life’s too short to fall for the hype of products that people who receive them for free, or are being paid to praise them, say are ‘amazing’. They’ll probably end up disappointing you. Don’t get yourself into debt trying to emulate the life of an influencer. It’s so not worth it.
First things first, protect your money, protect your mental health, and only follow people who provide genuinely good content – not those that are immersed in a cycle of fast fashion and high-end products that are utterly unattainable to the majority of us.
What are your money saving tips?