How often do you stick to your budget? We teamed up with Blogger Jo Middleton to share her tried-and-tested money-saving methods.
Jo Middleton is a writer, award-winning parent and lifestyle blogger at Slummy Single Mummy. Having spent years as a self-employed single parent, Jo knows a thing or two about budgeting. Jo has two daughters - Bee and Belle - and lives in Somerset.
Every month I think to myself ‘this is going to be the month when I save and budget properly.’ And then I go and buy a coffee and a sandwich in a café. Plus a couple of magazines. And that book I’ve wanted for ages…
You can see how it quickly goes wrong.
I build it up in my head as a big thing but the truth is, like most change, it's best implemented in small, gradual steps. Tiny things, done consistently over a long period, do make a difference.
OK, I know this sounds kind of obvious, but sometimes we need reminding of the basics. Think about reusing and recycling things, or ask yourself whether you really need it in the first place. You probably don’t.
It’s a rookie error to save what’s leftover at the end of the month because nothing ever is! If you want to make it work, you need to transfer savings out of your main bank account as soon as you get paid. Spend what’s left over after saving, not the other way around.
The easier you can make it for yourself to save, the more likely you are to stick at it. I have an online savings account, so it’s super easy to transfer money. When I get paid for a piece of work I just send a proportion to savings. It takes about 20 seconds and I don’t even have time to notice it was ever there in the first place.
We live in an instant society - we see something and we want it. Wait a bit, though, even just a couple of days (or hours) and you’ll often find something quickly loses appeal. Next time you see a dress you’re desperate for, leave it a few days and see if you still even remember it.
An oldie but a goodie. Take it from someone who has bought more than her fair share of overpriced chicken breasts in garage shops (me!) - planning meals in advance definitely cuts your shopping bill.
Buying ‘stuff’ for kids because they’re pestering you is easy but expensive. Practise saying ‘no’ more often and you may even find they start asking less too.
‘I must save £1000’ is far more inspiring if you add ‘so I can enjoy a week on the beach in Portugal’. Having something tangible to save for will help to keep you motivated.
My daughter and I recently set up a monthly cinema subscription and we love it. We go to the cinema a lot and with this deal, if we go once a week, we save about £55 every month. It’s ace. Only buy subscriptions though for things you already use and know you’ll get value from. We once paid over £100 for one trip to the Tower of London because we thought we would use the annual membership to visit other London palaces. Big mistake!
If you’re saving for your first home, you could set up a Help To Buy ISA and the Government will boost your savings by 25%. Save £2,000 for example, and you’ll get an extra £500 - definitely worth considering.
Get a big jar. Start with a penny on day one and increase the amount you put in the jar by one penny every day - 2p on day two, 3p on day three and so on. It sounds like nothing, but do this for a year and you’ll save £667.95!