No matter how well we’re told the economy is doing, we still quite often feel financially squeezed. From rent to the price of dinner, various living costs can take their toll on our bank accounts and leave us with precious little left over at the end of the month.
These days, even getting by requires you to manage your money well – so if you want to save money then it’s crucial you look into ways to cut your budget. That’s unless you plan on winning the lottery, of course.
It doesn’t even have to be difficult and you may not even notice the cutbacks you’re making – especially if you follow these five tips which, when you put them all together, could end up helping make 2018 one of your most successful years ever.
1Take your own food and drink to work
Potential annual saving: $1,400
Having leftovers for lunch will give you more of your money left over at the end of the month
Many of us look forward to our lunch breaks. After all, it’s that one chance to kick back for an hour, relax and have some time to ourselves. Having something tasty to eat and drink just adds to the pleasure. Sure, you can go get a tasty sandwich and a juicy smoothie for just a small amount of money. But while this might not seem like it costs a lot, it adds up over the course of the year. Say you spend $4 on a coffee and another $5 on a sandwich – that amounts to $45 a week, and around $2,000 a year.
Smoothies are composed of fruit and veg you probably have in your fridge at home. All you need is a flask and you can whip up one of your own – and avoid the insane mark-ups the smoothie place is charging. Make your own sandwich and you could save even more, and cut your daily meal costs down to between $2 to $3 dollars a day. Over the year this could mean you’re saving 2/3 of the $2,000 you were spending on lunchtime food and drink. That’s almost $1,400 a year – easily the price of a holiday.
2Pay less for your rent or mortgage
Potential annual saving: $1,700
For most of us our rent or mortgage payments are our single biggest expenditure each month – with the latter now reported as accounting for the highest proportion of income for seven years. So it seems like the perfect time to see if there are savings to be made.
If you’re renting and coming near to the end of your agreement it could be a good idea to see if your landlord would give you a rent reduction if you agree to stay. It may be that, to save the hassle of finding new tenants when you leave, they’ll agree to cutting the rent.
Granted, a lot of landlords will raise the rent if there’s big demand. However, if you live a little further out, you could threaten to leave if the rent stays the same. Landlords will probably want to keep a trusted tenant who will sign another one year agreement, rather than put themselves through the process of finding a new tenant.
Alternatively, think about moving to an area where the rents may be a bit lower. For example if you’re currently paying $600 a month and move to a $500 a month apartment you’ll be $1,200 better off in a year’s time.
If you’re a homeowner with a mortgage then try to search around for another, better deal with a lower mortgage rate. For example, for an average mortgage of $250,000 being paid back over 30 years, cutting a 5% interest rate to 4% could save you around $1,700 a year.
3Make the most of loyalty schemes
Potential annual saving: dependent on provider
They always say that it’s easier for a business to keep existing customers than to win new ones and that’s why so many offer loyalty schemes. Whether they’re the cards you get stamped each time you pay for a coffee, or the number of promotions you get from after shopping at a supermarket, these loyalty schemes reward you based on how much you spend.
Loyalty schemes are becoming much more widely available and are an easy way to save money – wherever you spend it. The very best ones give you the options of using the rewards that you earn either in the store or on the site where you’ve earned them. And it’s not just retailers that are offering them – they’ve even made it into the world of online gambling. On Wink Bingo’s rewards program: ‘You’ve earned it’, for example, you can convert your loyalty points into Bingo bonuses or even to shopping vouchers for your favourite retailers.
It’s a UK site, so there’s one Reward Point for every £1 you wager. Over the course of year you can imagine how much these will mount up.
4Register with an online cashback site
Potential annual saving: $500
If you’ve not got into claiming online cashback yet, it’s time you did. It’s one of the easiest ways to save, especially if you do a lot of online shopping. The way it works is simple.
You just need to register with a site like EBates and then whenever you want to shop online at any of the retailers they have links to just click through and make your purchase. It will have been recorded that you’ve come via the cashback site and a percentage of the purchase price will be automatically refunded to you by check. There are some big discounts available, sometimes as high as 50%, and the retailers also often have their own special offers especially for users of the cashback site.
The average saving is around 10%. So if you spend just $100 a week via an online cashback site then you’ll be saving around $500 a year. And if you’re buying essentials instead of luxuries, these are real savings you’ll be making.
5Audit your spending
Potential annual saving: potentially $600
Reviewing bank statements is a great way to give yourself a overall view of your spending
Our last tip is to take an overall look at the ways that you could cut down on your living expenses. In this guide, we cover all everything from magazine subscriptions that we’ve taken out and forgotten to cancel, to gym memberships that we just don’t use, and maybe even charity donations that go out of our accounts automatically.
So from time to time it’s well worth going through bank statements and seeing what we could cut from our monthly outgoings. For example, just finding $50 in savings a month will mean $600 more for you each year and you probably won’t even notice the things you’ve given up.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to saving money is that it’s by taking lots of little steps that you’ll see the biggest results. You’ll also need to be patient because in many cases you’re not going to see the savings straight away but when you look back in 12 months’ time you really will see the difference. And then comes the fun part – deciding what you’re going to do with all that extra cash.
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6Author: DLM Editor
Life tips and life hacks for happiness and prosperity.