Lockdown may have helped us save money, but with more and more restrictions lifted all the time, it means spending is becoming easier to do again.
As gyms, cinemas, zoos and many more places reopen, we may see our spending shoot up too. And with economic uncertainty still a thing, it's more important than ever that we keep on top of our finances and remain as prudent as possible.
It doesn't have to be that way, as there are plenty of things that form part of your everyday consumption you can give up. Whether it's ditching the fags or finding a cheaper way to work out, prudent spending is easier than you think.
Here are ten ways to cut down costs on your everyday spending.
1. Media streaming
The streaming market is more crowded than ever before, with the likes of Netflix, Sky/Now TV, Spotify, Amazon Prime and Disney+ all competing for your subscriptions. It soon adds up, with the cost of video streaming alone doubling in the past decade.
Do you need all or any of these? Whilst watching BBC iPlayer requires a TV licence, and Sky usually operates off a 12 month or more subscription, the others tend to be rolling contracts. So you can cancel and restart at any time - which means you won't miss out on that essential Netflix series if you cancel a month or two before it starts.
Try a full month without all or one of your streaming services to see if you can cope not using them. If you can, you can benefit from reducing or removing the cost of streaming subscriptions permanently.
Alcohol is expensive, whether drinking at home or in any kind of licensed premises. Dry January doesn't have to be something you do to save money at the start of the year - you can take it up at any time.
If you can cut it out or at least reduce the amount you spend on drinking, you could see some significant savings. If you go to the pub once a week and shell out on average £25, that's £1300 per annum. Even only halving that saves you a not too shabby £650 a year.
3. Unnecessary transport
Covid-19 enforced restrictions on travel. This may have temporarily clipped our freedom, but it also enabled us to save on the cost of doing so.
If you can, continue this by walking or cycling as much as possible. Try only to go shopping when you need to or utilise online delivery services instead (proving they are cheaper than going to a shop). Can you have more days out closer to home as well?
Also, check if there are alternative ways to make it cheaper. Can you do part of your journey on any free inter-city buses? And look into more affordable forms of transport - even if they take a little longer. An extra 10 minutes on a bus instead of a train could save you a significant amount in the long-run.
4. The gym
Gyms are a great way of keeping in shape, but they can be costly. Even a reasonably cheap gym membership of £15 a month works out at £180 per year, so finding a more economical way to stay fit could save you money. As far as inspiration for alternatives goes, here are five ways to get fit on a budget to get you started.
It's also worth noting that gyms are operating under different circumstances than before lockdown. So even though they are open again, you might not get the same experience as before. Which could be all the motivation you need to try something cheaper.
5. Takeaways and eating out
It's cheaper than ever to eat out at the moment, with the government’s Eat Out to Help Out schemedropping the price of eating out during August. That said, it's unlikely that doing so is cheaper than eating at home.
It's the same for takeaways. As a nation, we spent more on them due to Covid-19 (Just Eat one of many seeing a sharp rise in sales). So even though you may get discount codes, resist the urge to gorge on them.
If you don't want to stop eating food cooked for you rather than by you, look at budgeting. Work out how much you usually spend and then focus on reducing it - you'll soon see the savings add up.
Fancy budget eating alongside a health kick? Check out 10 ways to eat well on a budget.
6. Brand names in your weekly shop
Whether it's Andrex tissue or Tropicana orange juice, brand names are usually more expensive than their own-brand supermarket equivalents. So, could you save money by switching?
Whilst there can be differences between branded products and their cheaper alternatives, for some products there are none. For many, it's a simple preference thing, so try cheaper alternatives and see if you are comfortable with the differences. If you can, then this could quickly become a permanent saving on your weekly spends.
7. Avoid impulse purchases by shopping as little as possible - and always using a list
It's not just switching the brands that can save you money on your weekly shop. If you do one larger less frequent shop, and always make a list, you are less likely to be sucked in by impulse buys and make smaller purchases which can quickly add up.
Giving up non-essential purchases is harder than you think. Particularly when grabbing some last-minute food in your local shop increases the temptation for small additional purchases. So it pays to plan your shops much more. We've also laid out further clever tips to save at the supermarket to help you keep those costs down.
8. Unnecessary clothes
For the foreseeable future remote working and fewer options to go out and socialise mean that you don't need to buy or use as many clothes - which could help you save a packet.
Working from home means you can work in loungewear rather than office clothes, while if you're only wearing your jeans a couple of times a week they should last longer. Less wear and tear also means your current wardrobe should be in greater shape than you think - so stick to it for a little longer without new replacements.
Are you a smoker? With the average price of 20 cigarettes approaching £11, a ten-a-day habit works out at almost £80 a week. Across a year the amount is even more eye-watering at a whopping £1971.
Giving up or reducing the amount you smoke will drop that cost, as will vaping. Better yet, the savings won't nearly be as beneficial as the health benefits you'll get.
10. Non-essential purchases on credit cards
The final thing to give up isn't an item, but more a way of spending. Do you ever use your credit card for anything other than essential purchases? If so, it might be time to stop.
It's easy to pay for things impulsively on credit cards, whether an online shopping purchase or a holiday. However, unless the amount is paid in full before interest charges are added, then you will incur the extra cost of interest. If this keeps you in persistent debt, then you end up "paying more in interest, fees and charges than the original amount borrowed".
If you restrict how you use your card, then theoretically you should also limit how much debt you rack up.
In debt? You could use the money you save through these tips to help you get out of it, here is our ultimate guide on ways to consolidate debt.
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