Having a little extra money in your bank account doesn’t have to be some far off dream of a better paid, better-dressed version of you. It doesn’t even have to involve the headache or researching how to invest to maximise growth. Having extra disposable income can be a painless process that just involves making a few subtle but conscious decisions. There is a popular phrase: “Look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves.” Not only is this incredibly true, but it is also incredibly easy.
You can make tiny changes to the way you live that can allow you to wield a little more financial freedom. As an example, Mazda brought out a new MX-5 in 2005 that was light years ahead of the previous model. It was bigger, safer, had larger engines, and had more technology and refinement. However, it weighed only 9.5kg more than the old model. They managed this (so Richard Hammond tells us) by doing silly things like reducing the weight of the rearview mirror by 84g. Lots of small changes that yielded a big result. Below are a few ways that you can reduce your costs by a couple of pennies so that you can save lots of pounds to put towards the bigger purchases that need taking care of.
A sizeable percentage of the adult population in the western world are hugely coffee dependent. It’s a huge industry, and it helps us face the mornings with a little more purpose in our step. However, stopping off at your local coffee shop on the way to work is hugely expensive if you do it regularly. Add up how much you spend on coffee per month, and you would be amazed. Make your own and take it in a travel mug instead. You don’t have to settle for instant coffee either. A coffee filter set is incredibly cheap and still tastes great. Granted it won’t be the same as a double mochaccino with a shot of hazelnut, but if you’re an americano fan, it will hit the spot just the same.
Name brand food
In a consumerist society, having the right label and brands doesn’t stop with our clothes and cars, unfortunately. We feel the need to have the right logos staring out at us from our cupboards too. By setting your sights a little lower you can save a huge amount on your shopping bill, and you’d probably not even notice the difference if nobody told you. You could even go one step further and go for the cheaper supermarkets too. More expensive retailers tend to have a more pleasant shopping experience, but you are paying a premium for that. You could save yourself a huge amount on your weekly food shop by accepting slightly longer checkout queues.
If you are not on a water meter, this won’t save you any money. However, most people can save a significant amount of money by switching to a meter. You can further increase your savings by using energy efficient showerheads and tap fittings, which disperse the water more effectively thereby reducing the amount of water passing through your pipes every minute. But don’t think that the reduced volume of water will leave you with nought but a trickle. Fittings like these actually increase the water pressure too.
Not many people realise this, but 70% of the energy that a conventional bulb emits is actually heat. Which means that if you were factually correct, a light bulb would be more accurately named a heat bulb. Modern, energy efficient bulbs are true to name though. Once upon a time ‘energy efficient’ actually meant it took a good few minutes before the bulb emitted anything close to a usable amount of light. Nowadays though, bulbs emit all the light of a 60-watt bulb, using only a fraction of the energy, and with a lot less heat.
Don’t use standby
It can be very tempting to leave the TV, the computer, the microwave, and many other appliances on standby all the time. However, although a lot less energy is used in standby mode, energy is still being used. It only takes a few seconds to unplug any electronic devices not being used, but you will notice a definite drop in your electricity usage when you do.
Printer paper and cartridges
If you work from home, or your children are fond of printing out any homework they create on the computer, you may be all too aware of how pricey paper and ink can be for your printer. Search around for cheap toners or refillable cartridges to save on ink costs. You could also save money by buying your paper in larger quantities or choosing a slightly cheaper quality. You likely won’t notice the difference except in your wallet.
Everyone needs insurance, and the list can be long. Home insurance, car insurance, breakdown cover, life assurance, the options never seem to end. Many people opt to pay in monthly instalments to ease the blow. However, you could be paying hundreds per year in interest by choosing to pay monthly. Either dip into your savings to pay the lump sum or use a 0% finance credit card to pay the premium and then pay back the credit card before the charges kick in. It may feel like you are paying more because it’s all at once, but will save more in the long-run.
Do sweat the small stuff
Those impulse buys may not seem like much, but they soon add up. Anything you didn’t plan to buy can be put back on the shelf. Always ask yourself if this is something you want or something you need. You’ll find you spend a lot less once you ask yourself that question more often.
Make do and mend
We are a society that has to have the latest version of everything and sees far too many items as disposable. The austerity of world war two taught a lot of people the value of mending things. That’s not to say you have to start darning your socks, but just be aware of things that can easily be mended with a little work.
Share the commute
Getting into work can be expensive. Rail travel costs can quickly add up to an enormous amount, and fuel costs can be just as steep if you have a long commute or find yourself in stationary traffic quite often. Not to mention the cost of parking if the company you work for doesn’t provide staff parking for free. See if you can share the cost of travelling to work by carpooling or using the local bus route.
There you have it, proof that saving money doesn’t have to mean saying no to everything. Just a few small changes can yield big results. So start putting that money to better use today.