In what was a rare moment during lockdown, I reached for my wallet and the orange tint of a £10 note caught my eye. It’d been sitting there, silently hidden since 20 March and we’re now in July!
It got me thinking, when normality resumes (I live in hope…), could I keep up this habit of spending less? And if I did, what could I do with the savings?
For lots of us our spending habits have changed during lockdown, as we’ve reprioritised what we spend our money on. Lockdown might even have helped highlight what’s important to you and what you’re willing to part with your hard-earned cash for.
We all know we should review our finances regularly, but how many of us really do? I found once you’ve done it for the first time and you see the potential savings you can make it really spurs you on to check your outgoings regularly and try to keep up your good habits.
So what can you do to take up the challenge?
Review your direct debits
Are they all necessary? Are you paying for subscriptions or memberships that you no longer need? I’ve replaced a gym membership with online classes which has saved me a tidy sum each month. Reviewing your TV package and looking at your mortgage rate can add up to hundreds of pounds of savings across the year. But please make sure you know exactly what you’re cancelling before you do – you don’t want to find out too late that you’ve cancelled insurance that you really need!
You are what you eat
Lockdown has forced lots of us to do more cooking and even inspired me to try recreating my favourite takeaways. Before lockdown, I’d often spend £10 a day on food and coffee, but home-cooked lunches, even if they’re just leftovers from last night’s dinner, have helped me save a packet so far. And they taste great too! I mean, who doesn’t love second day lasagne, right?
Making and taking your own coffee can also save you loads. My sister was splurging her way through a student loan but couldn’t understand why. Turns out the innocuous coffees she was buying after each class added up to over £200 a month!
Would like to meet
Lockdown has highlighted how we socialise and what’s important. It’s made me realise I don’t need to spend a fortune in a bar or restaurant to enjoy a really good time with friends or family. Spending quality time and not money is something I’ll definitely look to continue once restrictions are lifted!
And this has been true for the time we’ve spent together as a family too. I used to feel I had to plan elaborate daytrips for my children, which inevitably ended in exiting through every parent’s nightmare – the shop! But I’ve realised that given the choice, my children prefer being at home and creating their own adventures.
APPreciate your money
With everything that’s happening just now it can be easy to lose sight of where you’re spending your money. I’ve found paying with cards rather than cash really helps me keep track of my spending. And budgeting apps like Yolt, Money Dashboard, and Loot can help you manage where your money’s going and highlight where you can make savings.
Make it work for you
Lots of employers have workplace discount schemes, but few of us actually use them regularly. An employee survey we ran recently for a company, found that only 5% of their employees regularly used their company discount scheme and 50% had never used it at all! Check if your employer has one and save it in your favourites on your computer or just put a post-it note on your screen to remind you to use it until you get into the habit.
It’s also worth checking if your company has a cashplan, or dental care plan you can take advantage of. The savings from these can really add up!
Let us know if you’re going to take up the challenge and share your saving tips!