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Your Money-Saving Tips

December 3, 2020

Paweł Czerwiński

“Got my mind on the money and the money on my mind.”

Snoop Dogg, U.S. rapper and singer

My Dad is a money-saving pro. Some of my earliest memories are of his fearless haggling. No place was off-limits. Tradespeople, clothing store clerks, butchers – they all got the spiel. And nine times of out 10 they gave away a discount, baffled why.

To Dad’s dismay, his sons didn’t inherit his entrepreneurial spirit. It seems those genes have skipped a generation. Now my nephews, new to work, enjoy looking after their hard-earned cash. They talk with grandpa about tax breaks while my bro’ and I compare new sneakers.

But that all changed when 2020 stamped out all our fun. Now, along with 72 percent of Americans, I’m stressing about money. [1] To help, I’ve turned to my co-workers and Mind Tools readers for tips on saving some cash. Here are their two cents.

Save Your Money on the Weekly Shop  

After your Thanksgiving feast, now’s a great time to think re-think the weekly shop. Learning Experience Manager Tracey McDonald says, “Weekly meal plans prior to shopping have always been great for us. Especially in the ‘click & collect’ or ‘grocery delivery time’ we currently live in! Fewer top-up shops, too.”

You should also check if your employer runs a well-being program that incentivizes healthy, cheaper eating. As Product Manager Caroline Horvath says, “If your company offers something like that, don’t forget to use it for discounts when shopping at your fave stores. Including your regular food shop!”

Cash Saving with a Secret Santa  

Christmas ain’t canceled this year. Not for Managing Editor Catriona MacLeod, anyway. She says, “We used to do a big family gift exchange just before Christmas. Everyone would arrive and depart with big bags of gifts for each other. Which was lovely. But every year it seemed to get harder to find that perfect gift for everyone without breaking the bank. Plus, it felt like we were doing our bit to help kill the planet (Sorry, Sir David!).”

“So, three years ago we set up a family Secret Santa. We set a decent budget, then each person gets a name through an online Secret Santa generator. (We use Elfster). You can set up a wish list to help people if they don’t know what to buy you. It has dramatically cut the cost of Christmas, while everyone gets a gift they love. And ‘regifting’ is now a thing of the past!”

But remember, if things really are tight, it’s okay not to gift this Christmas. Just seeing or talking to friends and family is top of our wish lists this year. 

Set a Money-Saving Goal 

A little planning is key to taking control of your finances, stressing less, and improving your well-being.

As Content Assistant Alice Gledhill says, “It’s so much easier to put money aside when you have a purpose or target in mind to motivate you.”

Whether it’s clearing your rent arrears or planning a college fund for your kids, prioritize what’s most important to you – long- and short-term. And make them SMART goals to succeed.

Get a Cash Saving App 

Budgeting isn’t fun. But apps are. That’s why Senior Editor Lucy Bishop recommends using a budget tracking app that flags up if you go in the red. She says, “We use an app called Emma which you can add all your different budgets into – for grocery, entertainment, internet, etc.”

You can make cash saving part of your banking, too. As Lucy says, “Fintech banks like Monzo have these kinds of budget trackers already built-in and are getting more popular, too!”

Switch for Cash Saving 

Many banks offer cash bonuses for switching your account to them. You can also shift your credit card debt to a new provider and get a zero-percent-interest introductory offer.

In fact, Lucy recommends you “switch everything – energy, broadband, phone contracts!” Remember to compare the comparison websites, too. And look out for those providers that shun these sites.

Save Money on Your Car Insurance 

You should never “auto-renew” your car insurance, either. And for an extra kicker, my old man recommends adding a points-free friend or family member as a “named driver” to your policy.

Even if they never get behind the wheel, they’ll help bring down the cost of your cover. (See, I do listen sometimes, Dad.)

Be a Smart Online Shopper for Cash Saving

Tempted by something in the January Sale? Listen to Alice first. She says, “One of my fave lifehacks when shopping online is to leave stuff in your basket for a day or two. Sometimes you’ll get a discount code in your inbox the next day! #winning!”

If you don’t trust yourself, apps such as Circle pause the internet for you. And let you assess your basket choices in the cold light of next day.

Make Saving Part of Your Everyday   

Lockdowns have been brutal, but they’ve given many of us the opportunity to re-think our relationships with money. So, rather than go back to old habits, why not start saving a little every month?

Like Twitter friend Nguka Oduor who says, “I live on the least amount of cash. So, I save 1/3 of what I always get then make my life to revolve around the remainder. So, I will shrink my expenditure on 2/3 of what I always earn.”

If that sounds too much, putting away just 10 percent of your income into a savings account will reduce your taxes and help toward financial independence in retirement.

Get Financial Help  

If money concerns are keeping you up at night, see our article on Personal Financial Stress and Well-Being.

Or if you feel overwhelmed, there are people out there who can help. The Money and Credit section of USA.gov and the U.K.’s Citizens Advice offer free debt advice and support.

You can also ask if your work runs an employee assistance program. Trade unions and veterans’ groups also offer practical, financial support.

Finally, try picking up the phone. Talking to family or friends can make a huge difference to how you feel – now.

Tell Us What You Think

Got another money-saving tip? Leave a comment, below, and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter!

[1] ‘Speaking of Psychology: The stress of money’. Available here.

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