It’s that time of year again. You've managed to 'YOLO' your way through December, snapped up one too many sales via email and the financial dust from Christmas has finally settled. Here on the Hotcourses editorial desk, we fall into this trap every year, regretting our financial decisons as we eat beans for dinner all January. This year, we decided to make a change and sat down with our very own personal finance genius, Dorthe. If, like us, you need some help, here’s 21 handy money saving tips you should really listen to.
1. Quit the gym, Ross and Chandler style. If you don’t use it, get out, if you do, always keep an eye out for cheaper deals around. It is often more cost effective to opt for a monthly pay as you go account, and with over a third of gyms in Britain being signed up to payasugym.com, this could be a great way to save (and lose) a few extra pounds.
2. Cycle or walk to work, especially if you followed the first point and have left the gym. Boris bikes are a lot cheaper and a lot more fun than riding the underground.
3. Go through your bank statements once a month. In the world of online banking do you really know what you are spending?
4. Cancel any direct debits you’re not using (when was the last time you actually watched anything on Netflix?)
5. Check for any unknown transactions – it took our marketing manager Jade a year to realise she was paying for an audible book subscription she had never used.
6. Look at the big items of expenditure first. Rent and council tax are usually not negotiable, but when it comes to gas and electricity, check for the cheapest deal at least once a year. The same goes for wifi.
7. Compare and switch. We gave Dorthe an odd look when she said this, but she explained that you should never renew insurance without comparing and looking around to find a better deal.
8. Dorthe also pointed out that a lot of good banks will pay you to switch to them, so play the game and get the best deal. Take advantage of things like cash back and reward credit cards.
9. Shopping (finally a word we understand) – always write a shopping list before going food shopping and stick to it.
10. Oh and take a bag, those 5ps soon add up!
11. Make meal plans to avoid spending unnecessary coins on lunch every day.
12. Know the price of the items you normally buy, this way you will know when they are on offer and be able to stock up.
13. When eating out with friends, always check the receipt before leaving the restaurant to avoid getting over charged.
14. Whilst on the subject of shopping, rent, don’t buy. Do you really need a new dress for every night out? If the answer is yes, take a look at girlmeetsdress.com and avoid impulsive, expensive buys.
15. Keep track of your money! Whether it’s a scary looking Excel spreadsheet like Dorthe’s, an app or a specialist programme, know where your money is going every month and set yourself saving goals.
16. Use an ISA for saving, but check the interest as they often drop to 0.1% after the first year.
17. Move money at the start of the month, just after you get paid to avoid spending it all. Sounds simple, but we all get drawn in by that attractive looking balance.
18. Debt. A terrifying word. Don’t bury your head in the sand, but spend some time listing all the debts you need to pay off. Start with the highest rates first and set up a direct debit to pay minimum on others.
19. Don’t save whilst your bank balance is in the negative – use this money to pay off your debts first.
20. Have a dry January – you’ll get a no doubt much needed detox and probably save a few pounds as well. According to figures from the Office of National Statistics, the average household in the UK spends £15.20 a week on alcohol, so a dry month could put over £60 back in your pocket.
21. Wiggle out of an expensive phone bill. Take a look at your last three bills and work out what you spend the most money on – calls, texts or data, then find a contract that gives you the best deal.
If you still feel like you need some more money saving tips, why not learn from an expert on a personal finance course? Good luck with the saving guys, remember, every penny counts!
Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.