The Ripples In Your Financial PuddleThursday, March 16, 2017
Unless you're a millionaire, it's more than likely that you have money concerns in some form or another. Even if you're fairly comfortable and don't live week to week with money, chances are you've given your finances some thought. What would happen if you got sick or lost your job? Can you afford to extend your family, and what would happen if an unexpected bill or expense cropped up? As the saying goes, you're only ever three pay cheques away from being homeless (and for many people, it's just one pay cheque). One thing we all have in common regardless of what we earn, is when it comes to money we never quite enough. A better job for example probably means you live in a more expensive house, and therefore have more costly outgoings. This means your actual expendible income doesn't change much. However there are a few small ways you can change how you spend that make a huge difference. Those small payments that seem like a drop in the ocean, but can have a major ripple effect. Here are some of the ways you can make a difference to your finances.
Let's face it, bills are no small drop. In fact for most of us, they make up a major part of our spending. So why are they on this list? Well while bills may be a major expense, there are ways to cut down on them just the same. How many of us settle for the first deal we find because ‘they’re all much the same anyway’? Instead of settling for the provider that’s easiest, you could shop around using companies like Simply Switch. Even a saving of a few pounds a month will make a difference over the course of months and years. Think about it; just £5 a month for a year will add up to £60, which no one could turn their nose up at. A few small savings like this and we’re talking big money combined. With the internet being so accessible, there’s no excuse not to take a look. In the past, changing provider would have meant ringing around each company. Now, you can do it all in a few clicks. Have a look and see how much you could be saving as it might surprise you. It’s also important to note that using the same provider for both gas and electric can make a big difference. Companies want more custom, and so offer deals to those who only use them. If your gas and electricity are provided by different companies, you could be spending over the odds. Get in touch with both companies, and see what deal they can offer you. Then, opt for the cheapest one! This saving may be a lot more than you’re anticipating, so get ready for a pleasant surprise.
How often do you eat at restaurants, or get a takeaway? The majority of us do so at least once a week. But would we be so keen to do so if we took a moment to consider the costs? A meal out for two people will cost, on average, at least £30. Takeaways aren't much cheaper either, would you spend that much on a meal if you were cooking at home? No chance! So why do we think it’s okay to pay that much for food somewhere else? There’s no denying that eating out can be a fantastic experience and it's certainly not something you need to give up completely. But saving it for a treat or special occasion and cooking the rest of the time will not only be cheaper but healthier too. Coupon sites like Groupon have countless money off deals for restaurants, the only compromise is that you may have to fit your eating around the deals you find. But that’s no big loss, is it? From 2 for 1 offers, to 10% off each meal, these are well worth the time. If that doesn’t appeal, you could always try to make special meals at home. Yes you will still have to cook, but you can still make an event of it that's more special than a standard weeknight dinner. Set the table, light some candles and turn off the tv if you want to create something more special or romantic! You could put the money you save in a pot and spend it on something special. That way you’ll be able to see exactly how much you’re saving and put it towards something else.
Ditch The Brands
As programmes like Shop Well For Less prove, the whole nation puts a lot of power on brands. When you go shopping, do you opt for familiar brands even though they’re up to double the price? You wouldn’t be alone. We’re all guilty of thinking that the more expensive products are better quality, but it's not always the case. Have we not seen enough blind taste tests to prove that the cheap stuff is often just as good? In fact, many products often come from the same factories! If you’re guilty of a little brand bias, it’s time to make a change. Swapping to a supermarket’s own brand will probably be the biggest revelation on this list. In fact, it may cut your shopping bill by nearly half. It doesn't mean you have to opt for the most budget versions, or give up everything you love if you prefer the specific taste of a branded product. But experimenting and trying some of the less expensive alternatives can save you big cash, and that's no bad thing.
There's no doubt that we're in an age of subscription services. And these days, it's rarely just for magazines. Instead we pay subscriptions for television, music, books and much more. You can even buy food, tea and beauty subscription boxes. From Netflix to Audible to Amazon Prime, there’s no end to what our monthly subscriptions can buy. For the most part, these subscriptions seem like good deals. For £5.99, you have complete access to the whole Netflix backlog for example and there’s no denying that there’s a lot on there. But they might not seem like such good deals when you consider how much you use them, and many of us subscribe to services we hardly use. £5.99 doesn’t seem like such an amazing deal when you only get one or two programmes out of it, does it? That £15 beauty box isn't such a bargain when there's only one or two travel sized products you'll actually get some use out of. Getting a grip on your subscription situation could save you a lot of money over a year. If you have online banking, look at the direct debit section of your account. This can be a fantastic way of reminding yourself exactly what subscriptions you pay. Add up the amount, then times it by twelve and see what you get each year. It might be that you’re losing a lot more money than you thought you were. Small amounts aren’t so little when you add them together!
You don't have to give up all of your little luxuries or even make huge changes to your life. The important thing to remember is small things all add up. Don't pay over the odds (or for things you don't need and use) and just be mindful of what you splash your hard earned cash on.
What small changes do you make to ensure you keep a handle on your finances?