I recently explained to a friend that I was trying to save £1,000 each month and her instant reaction, as I’m sure mine would have been nine months ago, was that I must be earning far more than her to be able to even contemplate putting away this amount on a monthly basis.
However, the truth is that you don’t need to be earning a lot to be able to save a lot. You simply need to be careful with what you do with your income.
In the first steps I referred to the 50/30/20 principle – whereby 20% of your income should be saved. If you’re serious about saving, or building up an ’emergency fund’ that will give you financial freedom and the ability to choose what you actually want to do, you really need to be stashing away more than this though.
Having been completely motivated by Canna Sass of SugarMamma.TV to take control of my finances (her blog and YouTube channel are well worth a look if only to lust after her wardrobe, but she’s also a certified financial adviser), I read about what she called the ‘$1,000 Project’.
The $1,000 Project is a challenge Canna set for herself (and her readers) whereby she put money she saved, manifested and made into a savings account that was separate from her usual accounts. Once the balance on the account reached $1,000 she then invested it in long term passive income sources (i.e. ways of making money without you having to do anything…and doesn’t that sound amazing – more about this on the blog soon). Canna originally did this with the intention of buying a designer handbag with the money made from these investments but has since donated it to charity – what an inspiration!
My ultimate aim was to do just as Canna was doing and to invest the money I had saved and created myself above and beyond my salary – but to give myself some security (given the prospect that no investment is certain to provide a life-changing return) I wanted to build up my emergency fund first.
Now 1,000 Australian Dollars equates around £580 but, given my desire to achieve the financial independence I needed, I wanted to set my goals high so that I could do it as quickly as possible. £1,000 seems like a huge amount to save every month and, I’ll be honest, sometimes this wasn’t achievable but it was a nice round number to aim towards. You can set whatever goal you like, but I would say that having a large figure to aim for really does help imprint in your mind how stringent you need to be.
Although I wanted to save this amount every month, I didn’t want to compromise on the lifestyle I had already established for myself. Going out for dinner or a glass (*bottle) of wine with my friends is what keeps me sane, exercise and eating well is incredibly important to me, and I have expensive taste in clothes, shoes, handbags, jewellery, cushions, candles…you get the idea.
I therefore set about trying to find ways of doing and having what I wanted for as little as possible, or even for free! I was amazed to find that there are so many opportunities to do so. Most of these are well-documented (such as switching energy supplier or foregoing your morning coffee-shop coffee) but I wanted to share three ideas with you that you may not already have thought of.
1. Supermarket savings
Yellow stickered goods have filled my fridge for the best part of seven months. But these are not just any yellow stickered goods. These are Marks & Spencer yellow stickered goods. See what I did there?
Joking aside, finding out when your local supermarket makes reductions is an excellent way of saving money. I’m strangely proud of the number of delicious salads I’ve picked up for under a pound, the quarter-price salmon fillets I’ve delved at the bottom of the shop freezer for and the treat Indian takeaways for two that I’ve bought when they’ve been reduced to £1.49 instead of hitting Deliveroo (notice I try to go for the healthy stuff – my sister on the other hand has, on two occasions, come home with enormous cakes that have been reduced from £10 to 99p – one Galaxy one and one in the shape of a pug that said that it served 18. We ate it between the two of us within 26 hours…oops).
2. Forget gym fees
Moving on from gorging on cake to keeping fit…I haven’t paid for the gym since my change in circumstances nine months ago. I had previously been paying £25.99 a month at PureGym (which was actually a great deal for 24 hour access and all classes included, including a spin class with Katie Stones that was so good I used to drag myself out of bed at 05:45 for it) but, when reassessing my finances, couldn’t justify the fees the gyms around my new corner of London commanded.
I started looking online for different ways I could exercise for free and found that there are so many ways of doing so beyond simply going for a run or doing squats whilst brushing one’s teeth. Come back soon for a blog post dedicated to ‘frugal fitness’.
3. Become a mystery diner/shopper and product tester
I used to sit at my desk every lunchtime with a homemade salad or leftovers from the previous evening’s dinner which, as thrifty as this was, meant that I didn’t get out of the office all day and was frequently asked work-related questions or to complete tasks despite it supposedly being my lunch break.
It’s now become a running joke amongst my colleagues that I spend most of my lunchtimes reviewing different restaurants in the area around my office.
The premise behind mystery dining is that you go to a restaurant, write a review on things like the service you received, the cleanliness of the restaurant and the taste of the food and then you get reimbursed afterwards.
Not only have I been able to eat an awful lot of food for free as a result (so much so that I have, on occasions, been able to go two weeks without doing a food shop!), but I’ve found it’s an excellent way of getting some fresh air during my lunch break. Some mystery dines have also been in some fantastic restaurants and I’ve been able to treat some of my nearest and dearest to some fabulous meals as a result.
Mystery shopping works in much the same way but obviously you are buying products, as opposed to food, which you can keep afterwards.
I’ve also signed up to be a product tester through a number of different websites. Not only do you get to keep the product you’ve been sent to try but it’s a great way of finding new things that you may want to buy again without having to splurge on it first. I’ve actually been sent the best shampoo I’ve ever tried through one of these schemes (worth £28) which I would never have wanted to buy without knowing it lived up to the hype for myself.
For the ‘cost’ of writing a review, I would absolutely recommend this as a way of saving money.
I hope these ideas are of interest. I’ll be writing about each of them in more detail in the future but if you have any questions, or would like me to focus on anything in particular in these posts, please do get in touch.
Do you have at ideas as to how you can save money? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.