Around 2 MILLION under 30s are in serious financial debt
A scary but realistic fact. The truth is chilling. Especially for the under 30s who have a child/children or are living on the poverty line – or sometimes both – it’s even more distressing. There are many people who are in debt and experiencing mental health issues ie. anxiety, depression, mental breakdowns and suicidal tendencies as a result of the looming debt they have over their head. I am thankful that I am clear of all my priority debts but am still paying off non-priority debts which I now manage much more responsibly.
If you are struggling with debt, speak from Citizens Advice Bureau who offers free impartial advice, or the National Debtline online. Both were great at helping me come to terms with my debt and figure out a reasonable and affordable solution.
How To Make Your Money Go Further
So how can you make your money go further?
There’s many different ways but here are 10 of the easiest ways I found possible. I’ve tried the majority of them and were successful in each one. Unlike other complex methods and techniques, these are so simple that anyone can do them and they don’t require much effort, know-how or any kind of financial investment.
1. Track your spending to understand your spending patterns
The first step to making your money go further is knowing precisely how much money is coming in and going out. Whatever bank you bank with, they should offer online banking services. This can help you identify and monitor your spending patterns to help you manage your money better by only spending on what you really need to buy. Some banks can show you a forecasted balance after all your outgoings so you’ll know roughly how much you’ll have at the end of the month.
2. Activate cashback for all your card transactions
Who doesn’t want money back when we spend? Now that we’re practically a cashless society, spending more on our cards and buying online, make sure that you are signed up to your card’s cashback scheme. If you don’t know whether your bank offers it, a quick search on Google can help. The cashback amount is dependent on the retailer but all you’ll need to do is check that your bank offers it on your card, select the participating retailers and activate the cashback scheme. Just make sure you use your card when paying with those retailers and the cashback will be automatically calculated and applied to your card.
3. Sign up to online cashback loyalty programmes like KidStart
These work a little differently from the cashback scheme above in the sense that you’ll need to sign up to the website that offers the cashback loyalty programme, search for the retailer you want to purchase from and then use the link provided by them to visit the retailer’s website in order to get your cashback. You’ll notice that you’ll also be able to get around 3-5% discount on new purchases and 0.5-2% discount rate on recurring purchases but it’s still saving you money at the end of the day. Just make sure you remember to use the link provided to access the retailer’s website to ensure your cashback is tracked. There’s usually a threshold before you’re paid back your cashback but it’s a pretty good loyalty programme especially now that we’re shopping online a LOT more.
4. Create a grocery shopping list with a budget and stick to it!
I remember when I was at uni, making a shopping list was my way of ensuring that my money and food would last well into the week. I was able to eat well (no beans on toast and tomato sauce pasta!) and spend less. How? You have to be smart with your shopping, create a budget and stick to your shopping list. Deviating a little from the list is fine but lots of unnecessary or impulse buys can quickly rack up your food spend very easily.
My shopping list always includes the food staples; milk, eggs, flour (if necessary), sugar, bread and butter. Then the ‘perishables’ ie. fruit, veg, meat/fish/poultry. I’d usually opt for veg that has more yield ie potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, frozen peas or frozen mixed veg, and buy meat/poultry/fish such as chicken, pork chops or mince, and frozen fish fillets which is cheaper than fresh fish. If I buy chicken I like buying the drumstick and thighs packs which are cheaper than fillets but provides more per servings. Then after that, I buy any household toiletries and items that are running low and try to look for promo offers to get the best deals.
My monthly grocery shop (food and household items) usually comes up to £80-120 for our family of four, which is £20-30 a week. Not bad right? It’s less than one takeaway meal for our family which his why we limit takeaways as much as possible. (more on this later). I buy food and think of meals that are easy to cook but has the best yield. More food for less money = savings!
5. Reduce food wastage by meal prepping or reinventing leftovers
I’m not a meal-prepping gal so I can’t give you much advice on this but I have heard from others that it really works. Meal prepping can be a great way of budgeting food so you’re not overspending on food or wasting it. As you cook a large batch then freeze the rest, it’s a really cost-effective way of eating.
For us, we usually reinvent our leftovers. For example, we’ll eat spaghetti bolognese for two days. On day three, depending how much is left of the bolognese, we’ll either add it to our new meal ie. lasagne, or we’ll have it as a side accompaniment ie. chilli bowl with macaroni cheese and chicken.
6. Sell your unwanted things online – DePop, Vinted, Ebay, Music Magpie, CeX
Got things that you’ve never used or worn? Is it still in good to like new condition but you just don’t have any use for it and don’t intend to? The best thing to do is to sell it! You can sometimes fetch a really good price, depending on the condition of the item and what the item is. If you’re selling clothes then Ebay, Vinted and DePop are popular sites to use. It’s usually free to create a listing to sell the items but you’ll be charged a small commission once it’s sold. If you’re using Paypal to handle your payments, be aware that Paypal also take a small amount of commission. Remember to calculate your postage correctly too as you’ll need to charge your buyers postage unless you’re offering free postage.
If you’re selling electronics ie. CDs, DVDs, games, phones etc then Music Magpie, GiffGaff, CeX would be your best bet. You can check their website to find out how much you’d get for your goods before deciding to sell. They can also be great places to buy electronics too as it’s cheaper than buying brand new – another way of making your money stretch further.
7. Sell your old clothes for cash (or vouchers)
There are a few cash for clothes companies still around for you to sell off your old goods to in exchange for some cash. The only catch is that they usually pay per kilo so you’ll need to have quite a lot of clothes to make a decent amount back. But then again, every little helps right? Retailers like H&M offer a clothes for store vouchers – you just bring in a bag of unwanted clothes in any condition and they’ll give you a £5 voucher in return which you can spend in store or online.
*Due to the current pandemic, H&M is not an option but there are plenty of ‘cash for clothes’ businesses still operating and they will come to collect your clothes. Search on Google for places you can contact.*
8. Find things for FREE on FreeCycle
FreeCycle is a site usually run by regular people and/or a local community. Similar to Ebay, it works by sellers listing their free goods and buyers register their interest. The seller chooses a buyer who they’d like to give away their stuff to and between the two, a collection date and time is agreed. You can find anything from there from clothes to odd things like a random spare shower head, to massive furniture like a wardrobe. It really depends on your area and who’s selling but it’s great and free!
Freecycle Greenwich UK have reopened as of December 2nd – please check your local Freecycle groups for individual opening dates.
Find Freebies on Facebook groups and pages
Just a quick search on Facebook and I found over 5 groups local to me and around London giving away freebies. It’s a fantastic place to find something you’re looking for or put out there what you’re looking for to several thousands of people. You’re sure to get a reply. I’d advise to join groups and pages that are local to your area so you can narrow down selections, it will also make it easier for you to collect as you’ll know the area. However if you can’t find what you’re looking for then perhaps try searching in your city instead of borough/district. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll find anything but it beats buying something brand new if you can get it for free and in good condition.
9. Cut back on the takeaways and coffees
Treating yourself every now and then can be really nice however treating yourself too often can contribute to unnecessary spending habits. A takeaway for our family of four sets us back around £30 so imagine if we had one every week, that would be £120 spent a month on takeaways alone – more than our monthly grocery spend! whether that’s for yourself or your family. A morning coffee cost roughly £2.50 – if you bought a coffee every morning for a week (5 days) that would cost you £12.50 a week, £50 a month.
Learning to make your money go further requires a little bit of discipline so you need to show some restraint. Everything really does all add up so do your best to cut back on the takeaways and takeout coffees to make your money last a little longer. To get a good coffee fix, invest in a cafetiere to press your own coffee grounds for an almost-authentic coffee experience at home. If you’re too lazy for that, instant coffee sachets might be a good alternative. Failing that, there’s nothing wrong with instant coffee, a good tea or herbal tea… or tap water. 🙂
10. Upcycle your old furniture to give them a new life and/or function
A lick of paint and some self-adhesive vinyl sheets can really bring old furniture up to date. We have an old dining table that we got from FreeCycle back in 2014 when we moved into our flat and couldn’t afford to buy a new table. We spruced up with a few tweaks and haven’t gotten rid of it six years on – all we did was sand down and repainted the dining table legs, stuck marble effect self-adhesive vinyl on the worktop and the table looked brand new. Little tweaks like this not only improve the things you already have, it saves you a LOT of money as furniture are quite heavy investments. Think creatively on how you can update old furniture and things in the house especially if they’re still in good use but just been a bit of a revamp.
Your pockets will thank you later.
I hope this post helps you out especially during these times of need when money is tight. Christmas around the corner doesn’t help either. Learning how to manage your spending is a great skill and it’s one that I am now trying to teach my children. It’s never too early to learn about budgeting and money management.