As a 23-year-old with an obsession with vanilla lattes, eyeliner, books and band t-shirts, I’ve had to work hard to develop any sort of money-saving skills.
Thursdays after work used to be spent strolling around my local shopping centre on its late night evening with my friends, buying hair products, books, shoes – you name it, all of it ‘stuff’ I didn’t need.
One particular trip, I’d picked up a new jelly highlighter in awe, exclaiming to my friend ‘what IS this?’.
Despite neither of us knowing, I bought it and it sits at the bottom of my make-up box, collecting dust.
In the age where everywhere you look TV, billboards, radio, buses and taxis are urging you to ‘buy this’ and ‘do that’, proclaiming ‘this useless object will make your life perfect’.
It’s hard to know when to stop obsessively buying things you don’t need.
Clearing out my cupboard the other week made me realise just how much ‘stuff’ I had; clothes, childhood toys, books, games…
There were things I’d forgotten I even had. And while its nice to discover a jacket you’ve only worn once – especially if there’s a forgotten fiver in it- it throws up the question of how much money was spent buying clothes and items that essentially have never been used.
As I’ve said, I’m not a money saving guru of any sorts, but I have gotten a lot better in the past few years and I permit myself a little triumphant grin when I can put some money away each month and not clog up my closet any more (for a while).
My simple tips are:
1. Do you really need that?
I have a mental conversation with myself before I buy anything and, though it may seem odd to some, it works! When picking up a new pair of jeans I ask myself if there’s anything wrong with the five pairs I have at home and if I can really justify spending £30 or more on more.
Another tactic is to go away and have a think about it, if you really can’t stop thinking about the item a few days later then at least you gave it some thought before you handed your debit card over.
2. Cut back on dining out and takeaway coffees
A lot of what was eating away at my money each month was takeaway coffees and going out for dinner.
I used to go out to eat at least twice a week and would sometimes be visiting Costas twice a day for my coffee fix even though there was perfectly good coffee in the office.
Eating out is a nice experience and it saves you cooking, but it’s often expensive and the whole ‘special’ nature of it goes out the window when you’re going out multiple times a week.
Your bank will thank you if you cut going out down to once a week or once every two weeks and you’ll have so much more money left over.
The coffee situation was difficult for me as I looked forward to my latte every (or twice) a day but taking some time to justify paying £3 for a coffee when I probably wouldn’t even get time to drink it really helped me cut down. Now when I have my go to vanilla latte I enjoy it so much more.
3. Go for a walk instead of expensive gym membership
Some gyms are good value for money and others aren’t. Gyms are great, especially if you feel like being in that sort of environment motivates you more and gets you working harder, but there are other alternatives you can try to keep active that don’t involve spending money.
Walking, running, going for a bike ride if you already own a bike or seeing if there are any free exercise classes at your local park or leisure centre are all cheaper alternatives to staying fit.
4. Make your own lunch
I know, squashed sandwiches in tinfoil are not the most appetising of sights when you reach for your lunch hoping for it to power you through the dreary afternoon, but expensive toasties were another reason my savings were not thanking me.
If the thought of a packed lunch makes you want to dive into the nearest cafe for a double chocolate muffin and a panini, then try changing things around a bit. Make pasta the night before and take that, try making yourself a healthy wrap or take soup with nice, thick bread.
If you introduce variety into your diet, you’ll also most likely stop feeling so sluggish at lunchtime and you can use the money you’ve saved on lunch everyday for something you actually want.
5. Think of creative ways to spend time with friends without going out
Like I said, Thursday evenings used to be spent shopping or going out to dinner but there are other things you can do to spend time with friends that wont break the bank.
Cook dinner at home, enjoy a cup of tea in front of a scary film or take a picnic to a park. Make creative cocktails at home with whatever mixers you have in or just chill out and have an actual conversation with a friend without either of you glued to your phones. You can even google free art galleries or gardens to visit near your town or city or just go for a walk somewhere quiet and peaceful.However if you get stuck, the introduction of Netflix means you can easily find a box set to binge on a rainy day if you’re lacking in inspiration.