Making savings is easy if you know where to look, but often we trundle through each money-spending task the way we always have. This is particularly true for household budgets; we shop at the same places, use the same utility and phone companies we always have and value convenience over savings.
However, if you find yourself struggling to make ends meet every month, you’ll probably be surprised to learn just how much you could save if you just made some small changes. Follow these tips and you’ll learn where to cut your household budget.
Shop around for groceries
Grocery shopping can be a massive drain on your finances, but you’re probably doing it wrong. If you have one preferred supermarket you go to for all your shopping, you could be missing out on massive savings.
Supermarket chains are in a constant price war as they try to gain market dominance, but each will discount different items. It can be worth shopping at a number of retailers for your monthly groceries instead of just one. With online shopping, this has never been easier.
Check which retailers have the best discounts on the items you need and don’t be afraid to create multiple shopping baskets with different retailers instead of just one big shop from the supermarket you always use.
It’s also worth considering whether you should be using the supermarkets as much as you do. The big retailers often charge more for fruit and veg or meat than you’d pay at your local high street grocer or butcher. Sure, they might be packaged up more neatly and have a few less bumps and scrapes, but is that really worth the added expense?
Meat from your butcher will be fresh and won’t be pumped up with water the same way they can be in supermarkets, so even if you pay a little more for chicken breasts, for example, you’re probably getting more for your money.
Cut your utilities
A surprising number of people never change their energy suppliers. Even though gas and electricity prices rise at an alarming rate, completely out of whack with our own wages, we offer a kind of blind loyalty to the provider we’ve always used.
The truth is, though, that it’s never been easier to switch. There are many price comparison sites out there that can show you exactly how much you can expect to save and switching is often easy and automatic.
The monthly savings might not seem like a lot, but if that adds up to a saving of £500 a year, that would be better in your savings account than in the pockets of an energy company’s CEO.
Think about pay-as-you-go
While you could do this for your utilities, it’s not often a money saver. However, where you could substantially save is by going PAYG for your mobile. Yes, you might not be able to get regular upgrades to the latest (yearly) model from your favourite manufacturer, but if you want to get your finances under control, you have to be ruthless. If you last got an upgrade a year ago, you shouldn’t need a new model for some time.
Stick to the phone you have which, let’s face it, has more computer power in it than most desktop PCs had ten years ago, and switch from a contract to PAYG. Instead of paying £50 a month, you could be paying less than £10 for more than enough free calls, texts and internet usage.
That one simple switch could save you another £500 a year.
Sell your clutter
If you have a cupboard somewhere in the house that you dare not enter for fear of being crushed under the weight of 10 years’ worth of not-junk-but-actually-very-important-items that you’re storing for reasons you can’t quite remember, it’s time for a clear out.
The space you retrieve in your home will mean you’re getting more for your rent or mortgage payments; we rarely think of maximising our real estate, but really, if you’re paying for the space, you should be able to make the most of it.
Not only that, but setting up an eBay or Gumtree account to sell off things you no longer need could result in you raking in an extra bit of money every month that you could put directly into a savings account. Better there than gathering dust in the back of a wardrobe.