If you read my 2018 goals then you will know that this year me and Gavin are really starting to knuckle down with our finances and are focusing on paying everything off. The holidays have been put on hold, the credit card has been hidden away (most of the time) and the penny jar has slowly started to fill up. Now that we are over a quarter of the way through the year we’ve finally started to fall into a good groove and have started organising our money much more efficiently. We are slowly hammering away at the debt but in the meantime we are making sure we are still leaving ourselves with just enough for a very tame treat or two every month. Today I thought I would share some of the tips we’ve been using to successfully start clearing chunks of what we owe whilst staying on track and within budget.
We use to set ourselves a budget of £50 a week each and not take into consideration any extra outgoings or expenses we might have. Instead of budgeting weekly we now budget monthly so we are covering everything including food, cat expenses, bills, travel to work etc. and we are even leaving £20 each a month for date nights. Although sometimes you do have to reign in your spending that doesn’t mean you have to be miserable all the time sat at home eating beans on toast everyday. If you make sure you account for fun things to then you won’t feel so rubbish about being skint all the time. I always make sure to put aside £30 every payday so I can treat myself to something new that I’ve been lusting over to fulfil that urge to spend, spend, spend. This will vary for everyone and I could allow myself more, but I have chosen this amount so I can pay off what I need to a lot quicker.
One of the easiest ways for us to save more and spend less was by meal planning each week. I picked up this meal planner from Wilkinson’s which makes planning the entire week super easy, plus the tear off shopping list at the bottom is super helpful. We spend about 30 minutes choosing our meals for the week, focusing on cooking larger portions which we can stretch out and make last for several meals. We budget extra money for cat food so this isn’t coming out of our food budget and we spend an extra £5-10 a week stocking up on the basics that are handy to have around for lazy days like soup, beans and tuna. Since we have started meal planning this has halved our monthly out goings because we don’t need to go and do top up shops every other day.
Paying off debt is our main goal at the moment but we’ve also started putting a little aside for a rainy day. We got caught out a couple of times last year with unexpected expenses which could easily have been resolved if we had a bit of money put aside. Although it’s not much I am taking part in the 1p a day saving challenge where you put aside 1p a day (increasing by a penny everyday) meaning at the end of the year I will be just shy of £700. The challenge is working really well for me at the moment. Even on the months when I haven’t had 2p left to rub together, my savings have remained untouched and ready for when I may need them. We also have a savings jar in the bedroom where we both put any loose change that we have laying around. It may not feel like much, but it quickly adds up and last time we cashed ours in we had nearly £150 in there!
Cut the luxuries
Last year I was paying for a weekly knitting magazine subscription (yes I am a grandma trapped in a millennial’s body) and a project life subscription box which although I loved both, I could really do with saving that extra £40 every month. Plus after being subscribed for an entire year I have more than enough to keep me going and see me through the next year. I’ve cancelled any subscriptions that I can’t make any commitments to right now and I’ve unsubscribed to any newsletters clogging up my inbox to reduce temptation as much as possible. I am still signed up to a handful of my favourite retailers (can’t risk missing out on those topshop discount codes) but I’ve drastically reduced the amount of I receive which also helps keep my inbox clear and junk free.
Shop your stash
One of my biggest gripes about influences/ bloggers/ youtubers whatever you want to call us is this constant encouragement to spend, spend, spend. It’s different if you’ve got a large disposable income or you`re looking for a particular item or you just want to treat yourself. But nobody really needs the same top in 5 different colours which they will wear once and then they will never see the light of day again. I haven’t bought clothes in months because I have an insane amount already and I have really enjoyed discovering old favourites and even some new bits and pieces which I have never worn before. Before you rush out and splurge on those feather heels that everyone and their dog seems to have but are the most painful thing in the world to walk in, make sure you have a quick mooch in your current wardrobe first! You never know you may find something similar hidden at the back or you may find something old which can up-cycled into something new and fresh.
Have a regular clear-out
If you ask any of my friends or family they will tell you that I am a serial hoarder. I mean I have an excessive amount of most things from my younger, more spendier days. I have worked since I was 16 but until I went to university when I was 20, I lived at home with very little outgoings. As you can image I spent my hard earned dollars on clothes, alcohol and my long-standing lush obsession which means now I’ve got everything I could possibly need hidden away someplace or another (including about 5 of those ‘if I don’t eat or move I can just about get away with it’ dresses). It’s only taken 10 years but I am finally starting to see the error in my ways and become less obsessed with holding onto everything. I have a regular clear-out of my wardrobe and beauty stash and anything that hasn’t been worn or used in 3 months is either given away to friends, donated or added to the notorious Ebay pile I’ve got going on at my Mum’s house.
Reuse and Recycle More
This might seem a bit of a weird one but hear me out first ok? I probably spend hundreds on bottled juices and waters every year without even realising. Now that I have my reusable bottle, I take it with me everywhere and it means I can fill it up whenever I need to and always have a drink with me. Mine is rather bulky so I am looking into getting one of those cool collapsible water bottles, but for now its a serious game changer. I also carry a reusable carrier bag with me at all times because I never know when I might need one. Although the charge for single use carrier bags is only 5p this soon adds up over time and I am trying to be more eco-conscious with my decisions.
As I have said we budget for the month and include all bills, expenses etc that may arise over that month. We also leave some money aside for recreational use like hobbies or clothes etc. I always withdraw the money from my account and carry it around in cash. This is probably the tip that has helped cut my spending the most because psychologically I can see the money in front of me and so I am less likely to part with my last £5 on a lipstick I have in 3 similar shades already. I use this money to pick up any necessities or treat myself to a Greg’s every now and then, but apart from that it normally just sits in my purse collecting dust for most of the month.