Personal finances are an area of life that you need to regularly revisit. Our money is a tool, and usually, one that we can make work a lot harder for us. Whether you want funds to let you travel or you’re hoping to buy a family home, start your own business or retrain for a new career – you simply have more options in life when your finances are sorted. Sometimes though, saving can seem hard. We have so many fixed costs in life, often it can feel impossible to set away as much as we’d like each month. Although most of those costs are necessary, there are always ways to revisit your personal budget and make more savings – often this can be as simple as using your negotiation skills to secure a better deal on your energy bills, shopping around to experience luxury travel on a budget, or streamlining costs for those daily necessities. So, how can you reduce those household bills and have more cash to follow your dreams?
Be Smart With Debt
Most people carry a certain amount of personal debt, and this isn’t always bad. But owing money can limit your financial options, so it’s always best to have a plan to manage your personal debt. First of all, debt needs to be considered holistically – as part of your overall financial picture, rather than something entirely separate. Be dynamic and proactive about how you manage the debt you have. For example, if you have a fair amount of cash sitting in savings, it’s not likely to be earning much interest at the moment, as interest rates are at an all-time low. So it could be a good move to use some of this money to pay off a chunk of what you owe in credit cards or bank loans. You should always leave yourself enough savings to keep as an emergency fund if you are going to do this, but it can be a good way of knocking out some debt and freeing up more cash each month. If you don’t have enough savings to do this without leaving yourself short if an unexpected event occurs, then look at other ways of reducing down debt. This could include looking into a consolidation loan that pulls lots of smaller debts into one – there is a charge to do so, so be sure the numbers stack up and you really will be better off. Or use the snowball method to pay off your credit cards by making savings where you can and throwing as much spare cash as you can at paying off your cards, in order of highest APR first. Or you might want to see if you can qualify for a 0% credit card that you can transfer other debts to – this is only worth doing if you can then pay the amount you owe off before the interest-free period expires. Being clever about debt is a significant way to save money if you do it carefully.
Save On Household Bills
Lowering your household bills is another great way to save money and free up cash for the things in life that you really want. And there are so many ways that you can do this. Start with the big expenses such as your mortgage and utility bills. Price comparison sites can help you to look at different suppliers and ensure that you are benefitting from the best deals. Usually, loyalty isn’t rewarded and it’s worth the effort to shop around a little and save on your bills. This is definitely the case when it comes to your insurance cover – set a calendar reminder a couple of weeks before your renewal date to start looking at alternatives. You should also take the time every few months to review all the subscription payments you make and see if they are still something you use on a regular basis. Cancel any you don’t use, or see if you can go in with a family member and share the payment, as a lot of services offer accounts with multiple user options.
Focus On Going Greener
When you’re being kinder to the planet, you’re generally being kinder to your wallet too – especially when it comes to energy use. And there are lots of small changes and adjustments you can make that will all save a little – which adds up to a lot when taken together. Things like switching all the lights to LED bulbs, making sure your HVAC system is properly serviced and even looking into a Solar Company to fit panels that can slash your electricity bills in the longer term are all steps towards a greener approach. Turn your washing machine down a few degrees, and fit a washing line in the yard rather than using the drier when you can. Make sure your attic is properly insulated and fit timer plugs on appliances so you aren’t wasting power. Very easy steps like this don’t have an impact on your quality of life, but over time they can really help to reduce your bills as well as helping to reduce your environmental footprint.
Makeover Your Meals
Food is another area where simple steps can really help to reduce what you spend. Find a few simple, healthy recipes you like and batch cook them, separate them into portions and freeze them so you always have something tasty and quick to hand, rather than relying on takeout all the time. Think about the non-perishable items that you use a lot, such as pasta or flour, and find out a way to buy them in bulk to make savings. It’s also well worth hunting out coupons that you can use when you want to stockpile items you use a lot. Also think about whether you really need to buy the premium versions of some staples, or whether you could switch to generic or store-brand food items in some areas. You’ll be surprised what you can save over time without changing up what you like too much. And if you are going to go out to a restaurant, make sure to check the voucher sites for any local deals first.
Anything you care to buy new can also generally be sourced at second hand, and in a lot of cases, provide much better value in that way. It’s also a great method to get exactly what you want, or in some cases better than you could afford new – and it’s much greener too. Take clothes as an example. It’s definitely better to buy less and better quality – but if you can’t justify hundreds on that cashmere sweater or exquisitely cut, pure wool coat, you don’t have to turn to cheap fast fashion. Use platforms like eBay, Depop or Vestiaire Collective to source the items you want preloved. If they’ve been cared for well, no one will ever know and you could make huge savings on the purchase price from new. Furniture is another item where it’s worth trying to find the items you want at second hand, as well as baby equipment which gets very little use. And when it comes to your vehicles, buying an approved used car is a smart idea – they still come with warranty cover, are in good-as-new condition, generally with low mileage, and boast a dramatic reduction in price from being the first owner – where value falls off a cliff as soon as you drive off the forecourt. Shop around and you can get exactly what you want for less.