Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.
Cut Family Spending
If you’re struggling to keep on top of the family budget, people will tell you that you need to cut back on luxuries or find ways to reduce your energy bills if you want to make big savings. While those are great suggestions, people tend to take the wrong approach to saving money because they don’t realize that it’s all about your habits and behaviour.
Buying coffee on your way to work, for example, is a spending habit. Making your own coffee at home and taking it with you is also a habit. So, giving up one habit and adopting a different one will save you money in the long term. Once you start thinking about money in this way, it’s a lot easier to ditch the bad habits and pick up new ones to replace them. These are some of the best habits for parents to adopt if they want to save money.
Taking A Single Trip To The Shops
When you do your shopping, it’s always best to do one single trip and get everything that you need. If you are constantly back and forth to the shops throughout the week, this increases the number of opportunities that you have for impulse buying and you are likely to spend more overall. Doing one big shop also forces you to be more efficient, making you less likely to waste time on things that you don’t really need. As well as cutting down the cost of your shopping, it also reduces the other associated costs, like fuel for the car. If you are in the habit of shopping multiple times a week, it can be tricky to get used to one single shop. However, if you plan your meals for the week, you can make sure you get everything you need.
Write A Shopping List
If you don’t already use a shopping list, you should start straight away. This is such a simple habit but it helps you to be more economical with your shop. If you write a list and stick to it, you won’t be tempted to start throwing things in the trolley as you walk past them. You’ll be more realistic about what you actually need too because you’ve sat down and thought of it. But if you go into the supermarket without a list, you will overestimate what you need and buy food that ends up getting thrown away anyway.
Use The 30 Day Rule
When it comes to luxury items, the 30 day rule is one of the best habits to adopt. If you see something that you like, don’t buy it straight away. Instead, leave it 30 days and if you still want to buy it after that, go for it. In most cases, you’ll find that you aren’t that bothered after the 30 days, in which case, it was just an impulse purchase rather than something that you really wanted. It’s surprising how much money we waste on things that we are desperate to have at the time but don’t actually care that much about once we’ve bought them.
When you use the 30 day rule, you should also take the opportunity to track prices on the things that you want to buy. There are some great sites that allow you to do this and you’ll be surprised how much they change. You might find that the price of the thing you wanted halves over that 30 days so if you do end up buying it, you’ll make a big saving.
Tracking prices also shows you the true nature of sales. People often buy things when they’re on sale because they think that they’re making a huge saving and if they don’t get it right now, they’re going to lose out. The thing is, a lot of shops will increase the price on things for a few months and then drop it back down to the original price, with a big 50% off sticker on it. You think you’re making a big saving but you’re actually buying it for the normal price. This is especially true during big sales like the Black Friday sales, so be careful. Instead of impulse buying because there is a sale, track the prices so you know when the price is really at its lowest.
Comparing different retailers is another great habit to get into before buying things. The chances are, there are plenty of different retailers selling the same item and they might do it cheaper. Google Shopping is a great place to search products and get a list of different retailers. You can then organize by price to find the cheapest possible deal.
When you are comparing retailers, consider using a price-match guarantee to your advantage. Places like John Lewis will agree to match the price of a product if you can find it cheaper elsewhere in the local area. This is a great way to buy big ticket items from a trusted retailer while also getting a big discount.
Check Comparable Products
Limiting yourself to specific brands is never a good way to save money because often, you can get a very similar product for a much lower price because it’s made by a different company. You see this on a small-scale basis in the supermarkets when it comes to branded vs supermarket own brand food. The thing is, a lot of that stuff is made in the same factory, it just has different packaging. So, before you put something in your basket, get into the habit of scanning the shelves and seeing if there is a similar product that is cheaper.
You should get into this habit when buying more expensive items too and smartphones are a great example of this. The big brands like Samsung or Apple sell phones that can cost upwards of £1000. But there are plenty of lesser-known brands from other countries selling similar phones for £200-£300. In terms of functionality, they’re pretty much the same, so do you really need to buy the more expensive option?
Look For Voucher Codes
If you’re buying things full price, you’re doing it wrong. Whenever you shop online, you can usually find a voucher code that gives you some kind of discount. You’re not guaranteed to get one but you’d be surprised how often you can get a discount after a few minutes of searching. There are some great sites like NetVoucherCodes.co.uk where all of the latest deals and offers are collected so you can easily browse through them. If you want to be better with your money, you should get into the habit of searching for a voucher code. It takes no time at all and you can save a lot of money, especially if you are buying an expensive item. You can even find voucher codes for holiday providers to save hundreds of pounds on your next family trip.
Leave Credit Cards At Home
Credit cards are one of the worst things for somebody that is prone to impulse buying. They encourage a buy now, think about the consequences later attitude because you don’t need to pay them off immediately. You’re not worried about how much is in your account and whether you can afford something because it’s going on the credit card, so you’re far more likely to make the impulse purchase.
Credit cards are useful to have because they help you build your credit score (experian.com has a great guide on this) and they offer your more protection when shopping online. They can also be a very last resort when you are in a difficult financial situation, but you shouldn’t see them as something that you have on you at all times. If you get into the habit of putting credit cards away in a drawer instead of carrying them around with you, it’s a lot easier to stay out of debt.
Use A Joint Account
Every couple has a different idea about how they want to manage their finances but if you want to reduce your spending, using a joint account is a great idea. When all of your finances are pooled together, you have a lot more accountability about what you spend. You are less likely to go out and waste lots of money on things you don’t need because it’s not just your money you are wasting. This will eventually lead you to make all of your financial decisions together, so you can discuss whether something is worth buying or not and think about alternative ways to spend the money. Over time, you’ll find that this means money is more likely to be spent on big family goals, like saving for a holiday, instead of wasted on frivolous things.
Drawing up a strict budget and finding ways to cut back on your big expenses is important if you want to save money. However, if you think about your financial habits and consider adopting these new ones, you will find that you naturally spend less money and it’s much easier to save.