Saving money isn’t easy. If it were, we’d all have thousands of pounds sitting in our savings account, and companies like Wonga wouldn’t exist.
The truth is that most of us are pretty crap at saving. But I’m not here to shame you because there is no formal education on personal finances and if you’re not taught something – how are you meant to know how to do it?
However, saving our money is an essential part of our financial health and whether you want to go on holiday, save a deposit for a house or buy your dream car, sometimes saving just 5% of our salary doesn’t cut it.
That’s why I’m going to share with you some tips on how to save a lot of money, but without sacrificing your lifestyle (too much).
1. Make a plan
Before you get started, you need to sit down and note down your income(s) and your non-negotiable outgoings (bills, petrol, food shop etc.). Then, subtract those outgoings from the income and that number is what you’re left to sort out.
For example: If I earned £1,600 a month and I had to pay £600 in bills, £80 in petrol and £100 for the food shop, I’d have £820 left to organise.
Be honest with yourself here, if you’re a smoker and you buy cigarettes, put that in the non-negotiable outgoings. If you know you’re going to spend that money every single month, you need to put it on the list.
Lying to yourself will only frustrate you when it gets to the end of the month, and you’re left wondering why you have no money left.
2. Create a budget
Now you have your golden number (in our case: £820), you need to create a realistic budget. Look back at your last bank statement and see what you’re spending your money on.
How much are you spending on average a month? Can you cut back on some luxuries? Are you willing to sacrifice some things to save?
Ask yourself these questions and build a realistic weekly budget.
For example: If on average, I spend £10-15 a day, I should leave myself with 12 x however many days until I’m paid next, which would give me £360 disposable money for the month and £460 left to save
That doesn’t mean I have to spend it all, just that I’m not leaving myself short.
3. Open a separate bank account
Once you have your magic saving number (in our case: £460), you need to put it in a separate bank account (or pot if you have a Monzo account). I don’t care what you say, you can’t save if you keep all of your money in one pot.
Division is key.
You’ll be stretched to find a savings account that gives you good interest, so my advice is to open an account with the same provider you already bank with. This way, you’ll be able to move your money over easily and keep all your finances in one place.
However, some people find it helps them to keep their savings with another bank, so they aren’t tempted to dip into them in the app. So do whatever suits you, but don’t leave it in your current account!
Also, if you want to split that money to save for different things, get separate bank accounts for each goal. You don’t need to do this for everything, but a good rule of thumb is to have a ‘fun savings‘ for things like tattoos and laptops and ‘life savings‘ for big things like cars and houses.
4. Repeat every month
Some months demand more of your money than others. You need to assess your financial situation each payday because while one month you might be able to save a lot of money, others you might have seven birthdays and three leaving drinks to attend.
Don’t let your social life interfere too much with your plans, you need to prioritise what’s important. However, it’s not realistic to live like a hermit forever just so you can save.
Assessing your finances each month is an excellent way to keep the right balance.
5. Get savvy
Okay, this deserves a whole other post in itself, but if you’re serious about saving a lot of money, you need to get savvy about your day-to-day spending.
If you can cut your daily average down, that means you have more money you can save. Even if it’s just £20 more a month, that soon adds up.
Stop buying coffee, bring your lunch to work, don’t buy impulse items. All these cliche tips work, and they could save you a lot of money in the long run. What’s a Starbucks, when you could have a deposit for a flat?