How can I save money?
If you're having a tough time with money, you may have to make a choice between getting into more debt, becoming a hermit, or coming up with some ways to save the pennies.
Here are a few handy hints to make sure you're able to make the most out of the money you have, whether it's a small pay package, a redundancy pay off or dole money.
- Set a budget - First things first, you need to work out exactly what you can afford to spend to get your finances back on track. Decide what your essentials are (food, transport and housing are the obvious choices) and what can be classed as luxuries (do you really need that £80 haircut?). Then work out a weekly maximum to spend and take out the money in cash. It's much easier to see what your spending when it's in note and coin format.
- Hide the store cards - Or ideally, chop them up for good. Credit cards have a high enough interest rate, but store cards really do take the biscuit. Even if you are a shopaholic, try reaching to the back of your wardrobe for a long lost item or try out charity shops for some discarded gems. Better still, get creative by picking up some plain garments and a few bits from a haberdashery to add some individuality.
- Eat cheap - The ‘economy' range of your favourite supermarket is a good place to start, but it's not exactly fine dining. Try to buy in bulk if you have the storage space. A large joint of meat goes a lot further than buying pre-packed slices every few days. Making food for yourself every day may seem like a chore but there's an easy way to do it. A large pot of pasta will keep fresh in your fridge for a week, then all you need is a few chopped peppers and sweetcorn for a filling and healthy lunch. Finally, those pricey designer coffees have to go. If your workplace doesn't provide free hot drink facilities, club together with a few colleagues to buy an industrial size vat of coffee granules that should last you a few months.
- Consolidate your debts - Letting your debts mount up mean that interest will spiral, making the situation worse. There are plenty of ways to manage your debt, such as paying off your various credit cards with a loan, then paying that loan back as soon as you can. There is help available when it comes to managing your money so don't be afraid or ashamed to speak to your bank about the options that are available. They will probably me more sympathetic than you'd expect.
- Claw back some cash - Remember that £20 you leant a friend a few months ago in the pub? Well it's time to ask for it back! Consider if there's anything you own that may bring in a few eBay bids. We're all guilty of hoarding at times so have a spring clean and you may uncover some valuable items.
- Switch your bills - This probably won't give you an instant return, but you may be able to ensure the next few months are cheaper than usual. There's a lot of competition in the gas and electricity market so find a deal that works for you.
- Set up a savings account - If you can afford to put money aside each month, set up a direct debit into a savings account. However little each month's contribution may seem, you'll be in a position to cope should an unexpected bill come through the door.
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