5 Ways to save money when you think you’ve done everything
For a long time I felt like because I had done all the “big” (or obvious) money saving things, such as switching energy providers, transferring credit card balances to a 0% card etc, that there was literally nothing else I could do to save cash. I coasted along quite comfortably and because I had enough money, it wasn’t really an issue. But then my income dropped significantly due to maternity leave and returning to work part time. Those pesky bills quite rudely remained the same though. I was lucky enough that my husband’s income helped spread the cost of those big household things as it always had, so it was my personal spending costs that I was forced to re-evaluate. These are the things that I have done to save money in 2017.
- Switched to Sim Only once my phone contract was up.
This was a real lightbulb moment for me. My mobile bill was definitely an overlooked area and at £43.00 a month it was a significant chunk of money. Due to the rapid advancement of phones over the last decade people have developed an expectation to upgrade every 12 to 24 months to the latest model, but I think in the past couple of years we have reached peak smartphone capability (for now).
Sure, Apple and Samsung might keep bringing out fancy new features to keep us spending, but it’s not the same as the days of upgrading your Nokia 3210 to something with a colour screen and polyphonic ringtones is it?! Looking forward to the rapidly advancing features each year was what got us upgrading, but what are the differences these days? Ooh fantastic, no headphone socket. (Thanks for that, Apple).
So given that each new upgrade is practically identical if just a bit faster, what other £600+ piece of kit in your home do you expect to get just 1-2 years use out of before upgrading? I can’t imagine doing that with a TV or fridge.
However, there is something that you could do at the end of your contract that is worse than upgrading, and that is to do nothing at all.
Think about it – in my case, £43.00 over 2 years comes to a staggering £1032. However, in December 2015 when I took out the contract, my 64gb iPhone 6S had a list price of £699. Deduct that from my total and I’m left with £333.00, or approximately £14 a month over 24 months for unlimited calls, texts and 4gb of data. So in actual fact, it’s not too bad a deal and a relatively affordable way to buy a new, top brand phone.
But as my contract comes to an end, if I didn’t want a new phone, I could quite lazily continue to pay my £43.00 a month until I decide otherwise. This is the equivalent of continuing to pay for an item long after the loan period is up – and certainly not the sort of thing people would happily do for any other long term payment! The difference is as you are paying for your network service alongside the hardware, this can mask what your payment is actually for – you are still receiving a service each month so the expectation for many people is to continue to pay the same amount for it. I dread to think how many people are overpaying for their phones in this way if they are not one of the ones desperate to upgrade as soon as they can.
So whatever you decide to do at the end of your contract – don’t do nothing!
So to get back to the point, I was nearing the end of my 24 month contract on my iPhone 6S with 3, I decided that I was perfectly happy with the phone and their service so I opted to downgrade to their amazing sim only plan. At £15 a month with 12gb of data for 12 months this is an amazing deal that also includes their Feel At Home and Go Binge programs, meaning not only can I continue to use my phone abroad in over 60 destinations for no extra cost, I can use popular streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify without it eating into my data. With a deal like this I was more than happy to stick with my older phone to make the saving. This brought my monthly bill right down by £28.
Monthly saving: £28
Annual saving: £336
- Snipped down my hairdressing appointments
This was a tricky one as I have been going to the same hairdressers for several years and even have my stylist as a facebook friend! However, I have below-shoulder length hair that I am happy with the length of, so I could no longer justify over £100 every 8 weeks or so just to keep my split ends and grey roots at bay. I gradually reduced my visits instead of automatically booking them in every 8 weeks and decided to try a home root concealer for £5 instead inbetween. As I have an ombre dye effect on my hair I’m not brave enough to try this myself, but I feel like my hairdressing trips when I pay for this are more justified now.
I now average around 4 visits a year. Obviously your hairstyle / length will determine if you can make a similar saving, but it’s just one you might not have considered before.
Monthly saving: £65 (Based on a spend of £130 every 2 months)
Annual saving: £390 (minus the cost of 4 x £130 visits a year)
- “Downshifting” products
Downshifting food is a staple of money saving advice, that being if you buy a premium brand such as Kelloggs cornflakes, try switching to the supermarket own brand. If you can’t tell the difference, you’ve made a saving, and could even go on to down-brand further to the budget version. The golden rule is, if the downgraded product isn’t as good, then simply return to what you were using. (You can read about my food downshifting here.)
So anyway, it got me thinking where else other than food could I make the same savings? Makeup and skin care was an obvious area. I have made so many swaps that it merits its own post, but I will just detail here my biggest money saving swap. Again, I believed that to achieve the quality I wanted in my foundation, nothing could beat my £32 Lancome Ultra.
However, it was beginning to become unaffordable to me, and since having a baby my social life consisted mainly of soft play and supermarkets rather than nights out. It began to feel like a costly item to slap on my face just to pop into Asda, so I decided to take a chance on the 99p Olivia Hale foundation in Home Bargains.
While it was not as good as the Lancome, for 99p I was very impressed with the coverage and it is now my go-to foundation for everyday wear including work – it is good enough to last all day! I still buy my Lancome but far less frequently as it is reserved for those rare and precious nights out. An unexpected advantage is also now it is for special times only it makes me feel a lot more glam and “made-up” when using it. Happy days all round!
Monthly saving just on this 1 product: £15 (Based on £32 every 2 months compared with 50p every 2 months)
Annual saving: £138 (£170 minus the £32 cost of one bottle of Lancome)
Plum is an absolutely fantastic tool for saving money that I cannot recommend enough! It is a savings app that is integrated into Facebook Messenger, which means it is always available. Using its clever algorithm, after connecting up your bank account it looks at your income and expenditure and automatically calculates how much you can save every few days without you even noticing! I’m talking anything between pennies and around £17 a time in my case, more usually it’s around the cost of a coffee or two.
Everything is completely secure using bank level security encryption for data transfer, but you can find much more information over on their website here .
Using Plum I was able to save over £300 in 7 months on my part time income. My husband was able to save almost double this in the same time – all without us really noticing! When we signed up to Plum in April we had a goal to be able to buy an American style fridge freezer in the Black Friday sales which we achieved – see here. It’s amazing to see how far our spare change has gone!
- Have a clear out
Ok…strictly speaking this isn’t actually saving money just on its own, but it’s what it can lead to where the savings can be made (and I don’t just mean flogging stuff on ebay…although that of course can make you some cash).
Firstly, cluttered cupboards and wardrobes can make us think that in order to tame our junk we need to buy more storage solutions – whether that be a few £5 plastic storage boxes or a whole aisle of the Ikea warehouse. But after clearing through unwanted items and tidying up what’s left, you may find you have a lot more storage space that you first thought.
Recently I was convinced we needed another Ikea Kallax unit in order to house all our 2 year old’s toys despite the fact we already own 2 x 8 box units in different rooms of the house. After going though the boxes of the unit in her room I realised that 3 were filled with baby blankets, a carrier, breast pump and all other manner of baby paraphernalia. I had simply got used to not using those boxes as the months went on and the baby items were used less and less. After clearing them out and storing in the loft for any future siblings there were now 3 empty storage boxes ready for toys. Teamed with a toy clear out this was more than enough extra space to hold off any storage purchase.
Additionally, having a clear out can often revive products we forgot we owned altogether. This could be an item of clothing that can be worn again (I know this is rare compared to finding ones that either don’t fit or now look awful – but when it does happen, it’s a nice little win), or something you may have even forgotten you have already bought – such as a suitcase in the sale that was immediately shoved in the loft awaiting a holiday booking. It could even be something as tiny as realizing you don’t need to buy cumin seeds for that one recipe you are going to use them for because you did that the last time you made whatever it was. (I found 4 spice jars of cumin powder and seeds in our cupboard. 4!!!). Whatever it may be, it just might stop you making an unnecessary purchase, and creating more clutter, however big or small.
What do you think of these ways to save money? Is there anything you could add to my list? Let me know in the comments!