Want to start saving money, but not sure where to begin?
If you're on a low income or struggle to manage your outgoings, regularly saving money for the future can be difficult.
According to The Money Charity, the amount of UK households with no cash savings is on the rise. Almost 10 million households have no savings and a further 3.26 million have savings under £1,500.
Whether you're saving for a big event such as a holiday or wedding, or just want to be more prepared for what the future may hold, there's never a better time than now to get started.
Try out these 9 simple saving techniques and start saving money today (without you even noticing!)
Keep track of your spending
One great way to manage your outgoings is by keeping track of them.
Note down all of your expenditures: food, drink, travel, clothes the lot. You'll be able to see exactly where your money is going and see where you're overspending.
You'll find yourself less prone to impulse buying, as having to write it all down highlights where your money is going and just how much you're spending.
Have a no-spend day (or week, or month...)
The best way to save money? Not spending it.
Challenge yourself to not spend any money for a specified length of time. It could be for one day a week, the full week or even a whole month.
No-spend challenges force you to reassess your spending habits. When you're not allowed to spend anything, you recognise how often you're tempted to and how purchases you'd previously consider necessary, in fact aren't.
There are obvious exclusions to this (you'll still need to eat and pay your rent/mortgage) and so before you begin, make sure you're prepared and make the challenge align with your own objectives.
Need a helping hand?
Take a look at our guide on how to challenge yourself to a no-spend day, week or month to get started.
Even out your bank balance
This is a great trick to saving money with very little effort on your part.
Get into a habit of evening out your bank balance by transferring the excess to a savings account.
For example, if you have £51.26 in the bank, you'd transfer over £1.26.
Even if it's just 10p at the end of the day, by making regular small contributions to your savings not only will you be aware of how much you have, it's a great way to save without you even noticing.
Bring back the piggy bank
What do you do with your loose change at the moment? Let it gather dust at the bottom of your bag, or down the side of the sofa?
You're definitely not alone.
Remember the old saying: look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves? There's definitely truth in it.
Begin the habit of popping your few pence change in a jar and (without even noticing the loss) it will turn into a nice pot of savings.
Alternatively, you could use your penny change in another way...
Put away a penny a day
Have you heard of the 1p challenge?
It's a saving money scheme where for 365 days, you put away 1p a day, increasing each day.
On the first day you put away 1p, the next day 2p and so on, until the 365th day you put away £3.65. By the end of the year, you'll save £667.95.
This is a good one to begin in at the beginning of the year, as it's easy to remember when you started and it works out as an easy way to save for Christmas. However, you don't need to wait until January 1st to become a saving whizz - start today!
But what if you don't have the correct amount of change to hand?
Or some days you want to 'save more' than others?
The penny challenge doesn't have to be chronological. So long as each amount is put aside, you can complete the penny challenge in any order you like.
Skint Dad has a brilliant downloadable chart to keep track of your saving throughout the 365 days.
Work out your weekly disposable income
Hands up who actually knows how much money they have leftover after bills?
Some people find it easier to save when their money is budgeted into weekly (or even daily) allowances. Rather than giving yourself a monthly budget, spending it all on payday weekend and scrimping through the rest of the month, work out how much you have to spend each week. It'll be much easier to stay on top of things.
This is easier on a salary, as your incomings are (pretty much) set. If you're on a salary:
- Minus all your outgoing bills from your monthly take-home pay: rent, council tax, electric bills etc.
- Don't forget about smaller ones, like Netflix, Spotify and your mobile phone bill.
- What's left over is your disposable income.
Once you know how much you have to spend each week, you'll begin to realise which purchases are necessary (and which are not). Plus, you can set some aside each week for savings - no matter how small.
Become a super savvy shopper
For most people, the weekly food shop is their biggest outgoing (after regular bills). Because food is a necessity, it's easy to assume there's no way around it: that big money has to be spent, week after week.
However, there are lots of small steps you can take to reduce your food bill, without much effort or you even noticing.
Switching to a budget supermarket is a simple way to reduce your weekly food shop, and you won't notice a difference in the quality of produce. Check out our useful guide free food (17 practical ways to eat for free) to get the lowdown on effective ways to slash your food outgoings, every time you shop.
And when it comes to clothes shopping, don't overlook the humble charity shop. Make it a habit to stop by your local to see what's new and avoid online shopping. You'll be surprised at the bargains you can snap up, all the while donating to a good cause.
Splurge on quality (occasionally!)
This may seem counter-intuitive to saving money, but stay with us.
Quality items are an investment, as they'll last longer than their cheaper alternatives. For items that will last season after season, consider investing in a good quality item that will last. Coats, boots, LBDs - these are all items that will never go out of style and are worth spending a little bit more on.
Sell, don't spend
Get into the habit of selling on your unwanted things, rather than letting them gather dust in your wardrobe (or boot of your car in my case).
There are loads of second-hand selling websites and apps to get you started, including eBay, Preloved, GumTree, DePop and more.
For some items, the payout might not be much, but every little helps (especially when it comes to saving). And if an item won't budge and is in a decent condition, donate it to a charity shop.
Hopefully, these techniques will help you develop regular saving habits, giving your savings a gentle boost throughout the year. Good luck! And let me know how you get on.