Savings and fun - you don’t often see these two words used together in the same sentence. But you can inject some joy into saving, with a little bit of creativity.
The key is to balance your books so you still have money left over, to socialise and enjoy yourself, as well as save. Make sure your goals are realistic and affordable, so it’s easier to stick to them.
Also, think about setting up different savings pots for different purposes. So you could save up for a weekend away on top of (less fun) essential house repairs, for example. That way, at least some of your savings are going towards something you can look forward to.
Create a mood board
Whether you’re saving for a new bedroom or a holiday, think about creating a mood board to visually represent your goal.
You can put a digital mood board together using an app like Pinterest. Or go old school with a crafty board. This way you can have fun cutting out pictures from magazines, or take photos and use them to make a collage. This will help you to keep your eyes on the prize every time you look at it.
Split up your main goal into smaller aims to make it more manageable. Then create a chart to track your progress. Every time you reach a milestone, you could put a tick by it and reward yourself with a small treat.
For example, if you’re aiming to save £500 towards a holiday in six month’s time, you could split this up into five months of £100 (or whatever’s affordable). Then reward yourself each time you put £100 away. As well as the overall reward of going on holiday when you fulfil your overall savings goal, the little monthly perks should keep you motivated along the way.
You could even make the treat reaffirm your achievement, such as buying flowers which remind you of the savings you’ve made every time you see them.
Use a money jar
By collecting change in a money jar, you can watch your cash physically build up in front of your very eyes. This is more fun than putting it away into a bank account. And you’ll probably get a bigger sense of achievement out of it as well.
You could focus on collecting certain values of money, like £2 coins or £5 notes. Or there’s the option to start a ‘swear jar’, where you charge yourself (and possibly others) an agreed amount whenever someone curses.
Take a savings challenge
If you want to incentivise yourself even more, you could indulge your competitive spirit with one of these savings challenges:
The no-spend challenge
The ‘no-spend challenge’, so-called to encourage you not to buy anything for a set amount of time. One month you could set yourself a goal to not buy any new clothes for example. If you’re going on a night out that month and need something to wear, consider borrowing something from a friend instead. Or visit a ‘swishing’ website, where you can refresh your wardrobe by swapping clothes with others for free.
12-month challenge - save £780 a year
With the 12-month challenge you could save £780 over the course of a year. To cash in, you need to multiply the month you are in by 10. This will give you the amount you need to save that month.
For example, March is the third month of the year, so it falls under the number 3. If you multiply this by 10 it gives you £30. (So you’ll save £40 in April, £50 in May etc). Bear in mind that by December, you’ll need to save £120, which might clash with Christmas. So you’ll need to factor this in ahead of time.
The Monday to Sunday challenge - save £1,456 a year
If you’ve got a bit more money to spare, try the Monday to Sunday challenge. With this one, you need to save £1 on Monday and increase your savings by £1 a day over the course of the week. So you save £2 on Tuesday, £3 on Wednesday, and so on. By the end of the week, you’ll have £28. Then you start again the following Monday using the same amounts.
Breaking it down like this makes saving more manageable (and as a result more enjoyable). It can also lead to big rewards and the satisfaction of knowing you have achieved your goal. Over the course of a full year, you will save £1,456 using this method, which is a big chunk of cash. What would you do with that money?
Take up couponing
Couponing is the practice of finding vouchers to save you money. On the surface it might sound dull. But couponing can turn into a hobby in itself, and many people get a buzz out of it. Imagine going to the till and getting your shopping for a fraction of the price - you’d feel pretty good about yourself, right?
In fact, some people take it so seriously that they start ‘extreme couponing’. This involves more time and effort than just cutting out the odd coupon from the newspaper. To reach these savings pinnacles, you need to do lots of research and combine the best deals at the right time. This is known as ‘stacking’ and will lead to the biggest rewards.
One way to constantly keep your finger on the pulse is to sign up to newsletters or join an online community on social media, like Facebook for example.
Other ways to get deals:
- Use vouchers in supermarket magazines
- Take advantage of loyalty card rewards
- Cut out coupons on packaging (like crisp packets and cereal boxes)
- Write to manufacturers with feedback (good or bad)
Remember, the trick is to only use coupons for things you would normally buy anyway. Otherwise, your shopping bill could soon add up with little extras.
Listen to podcasts
There are also loads of interesting podcasts available for free, which can help you to find new ways to manage your money well. They’re available via your smartphone, so it doesn’t matter if you’re commuting, relaxing at home or even doing the chores. Wherever you are, you can tune in and gain insights from the experts to help you save.
Start a side hustle
One example of a helpful podcast is The Side Hustle Show. It features top tips from successful business people on how to earn a bit extra on the side.
With today’s technology, you can run a side hustle from the comfort of your own home. Whether you sell your stuff on eBay, rent out your parking space or make things to sell on Etsy - there are plenty of ways you can raise some cash and boost your savings.
For more ideas, check out ‘10 easy ways to make extra money’.
Hold a car boot sale
If technology isn’t your thing and you prefer getting out and about, a car boot could be up your street. Not only could you make a bit of cash and clear out some clutter, you could also do a bit of bargain-hunting while you’re there. This could save you money on anything from clothes to furniture and garden equipment.
It’s best to contact your local council before your rock up, as the rules surrounding car boot sales and seller’s fees can vary.
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