I found out that it was Blue Monday on the 15th of January, which is apparently the day we are all feeling a bit crap about our weight, our life, and our bank account balance. It’s so true, but I wouldn’t call it Blue Monday… I’d call it Blue Month.
Most of us are paid the week before Christmas, and despite the yearly “be careful though as it has to last you a bit longer!” advice that we receive and never listen to, it seems we are always skint before the New Year has even begun.
I have talked about money saving on my blog before, and our aspirations to save. Sadly, it didn’t happen. As life goes, I fell pregnant a month after posting it, and then it was Christmas, and now here we are. In the past week I have already considered payday loans, credit cards and even selling some of our possessions in order to find money to get through this dreaded month.
I am absolutely sick of living this way. I’m sick of trying to work out exactly how long a bag of toilet rolls may last, or a box of cat food, or worrying about how many packets of baby wipes are in the cupboard in case we won’t have enough.
I’ve decided enough truly is enough and if we don’t start doing something soon, we are going to end up living like this forever. Through having no choice but to live extra scrupulous this month, I realised that we can manage on a lot less than we think we can per week, albeit a little bit less comfortably than I would like, but we can do it.
From figuring out our worst downfalls, I was able to actually pin point exactly what we should improve on in order to save money in 2018:
- Meal planning – I am the worst at this, but have found whenever I have actually sat down on a Friday night and wrote down what exactly we will eat through the week, we don’t panic buy food shopping on a Wednesday because we think we have nothing in. We were about to do a whole shop the other day, and just from going through our cupboards/freezer we discovered we had enough to make at least 10 meals. We saved so much money just from doing this beforehand. Click here to read Amy’s post about Meal Planning On A Budget.
- AVOID takeaways – Where most of our money goes. One month we worked out how much we had spent on takeaways in a month, and the shocking total was well over £200. We always have food we can make in the house, but we just happened to fall into a vicious cycle of finding an excuse to order something instead of finding time to stick something in the oven. It’s actually embarrassing to think about.
- Order food shops from somewhere with an online delivery service, so you can see how much you’re spending – I found this so useful the other day when we had a budget to stick to. We ordered our first ever delivered shop from ASDA and it was so handy to see the total as I went along. Also, write a list beforehand and search for those items only and you won’t be tempted to splurge on something you don’t need
- If you do need to nip out, write a list before you go and don’t look around – Sounds ridiculous, but I find myself wandering aisles and thinking “that would look lovely in the kitchen” or “we really do need a new rug” when we really don’t. If you go somewhere you are familiar with and head directly for what you’re looking for and then straight to the tills, you reduce the risk of tricking yourself into needing something.
- Turning off everything that isn’t in use – A few weeks ago we realised our gas and electric seemed to be vanishing before our very eyes. I mean it’s currently the dead of Winter and I am lucky if I can feel my toes most mornings, but we just couldn’t understand where it was going (sadly we use card and key meters). Then we realised we had left the boiler on a timer so it was still coming on and off while we were at work. It was keeping our cat snug, but absolutely draining our money in the mean time. We’ve also got back from work quite a few times to realise the TV is still on, or 2 bedroom lights. It may not seem like you’re wasting a lot, but it all adds up.
- Using an app for bills – Thankfully, I have never fallen behind on bills because they are always a priority. I use an app called Expense (it’s free! this isn’t a promotion haha!) which is basically like a mini excel spreadsheet in your pocket. Every month I input what we are getting paid and what bill is coming out every other day, and it shows me how much we have left at the end. This is so handy when it comes to learning what our limits are for spending on other things and I have used it for years. You can also use sites like Dealsplanet to save money on certain items, such as baby clothes, shoes, home decor & more.
- Leave cards/money at home if you’re going somewhere and don’t want to spend anything
- Take dinner & drinks out with you if you’re going out over a meal time – I started doing this months ago because I found I was buying Oscar something for dinner which he almost never ate, so had essentially thrown £3-4 away. Then I was getting myself something and getting us both a drink to carry around. This meant a mother and son day out at playgroup ended up being a £15 spend on food alone. Cutting this out made a huge difference to our weekly outgoings.
- Avoid meeting friends in shopping centres if you haven’t got money to waste – Whenever I meet my friend in the town centre, we end up walking around shops together for hours and spending unnecessary amounts on things we don’t need. Meet a friend for a coffee in a nearby cafe and support a local business instead.
- Say goodbye to any items you do not use that may have monetary value, and put the money straight into savings.
- Make use of free play areas and local attractions instead of soft plays.
- Try and add at least £5 to a savings account every single week – Something I am desperate to start doing this year. It isn’t an amount you will miss weekly, but over time will definitely become an amount you will appreciate.
- Don’t apply for any credit you do not need that may negatively affect your financial situation in the future – About a year and a half ago I decided to apply for an Argos Card which I have found so amazingly useful over the months. The problem is that I rely on it heavily for things like birthdays, Christmas, large items etc. Like any other debt, you have to pay it back at some point, which isn’t something you truly think about when you’re applying for these things. Argos don’t start charging interest until you have ran over your allotted time to pay it back, but paying it back on time has definitely added extra strain to our financial situation, and is something we could’ve done without.