Whilst the first couple of years of post-grad life were challenging it gave me plenty of scope to grow and I have learnt so many invaluable lessons including how to mange my finances and still enjoy my life without going crazy. Here are some of life hacks and money saving tips I have picked up along the way:
You don’t have to go crazy on alcoholic drinks to have an enjoyable evening. Whilst back in university drinking as much as you can as quickly as you can may of been fun. Graduating university has given me an appreciation for a good glass of white wine or a cheeky cocktail. I can happily go out for a night with friends and enjoy one of two alcoholic drinks without breaking the bank or feeling like a wet blanket. You can enjoy yourself just as much sober or tipsy. Never feel pressured into drinking when you do not want too, whether that is for personal or financial reasons.
Hold on to your Student ID. Don’t forget to renew your student NUS Extra Card just before graduating. NUS allow you to buy a three year card which means another three years of discount shopping. That 10%-20% makes a difference!!
Try and get into the habit of carrying cash on a night out. I must admit, I never carry cash normally but on a night out it is something I religiously do; before a night out you can set yourself a budget and by carrying cash you are more than likely to stick to that amount rather than over-ordering.
Tracking your Income & Expenses. Its crazy how much more mindful you become of your spending habits when you see it in black and white. Its very easy to over spend which is why when Jack and I became homeowners we decided to track out spending habits. We have a detailed spreadsheet that outlined our in-going and out-going expenses. Another tip is utilizing mobile banking apps. We have all our monthly out-goings set up on direct debits or standing orders; most banking apps have the capabilities to show you when your last direct debit was paid which can come in very handy.
Take lunch to work. Its so easy to grab lunch on the go, but if you consider you usually spend about £5.00 a day on food and drink. Over the cost of a month that adds up to £100. That’s £1,200 a year! Its surprising how quickly that odd £5 a day can add up to a serious chunk of change.
Cancel unnecessary memberships. That gym membership probably sounded like a good idea at the time but its always good to weigh up the cost versus how often you are using it. Its surprises the amount of things you can end up signed up for like Spotify, Amazon Prime, Netflix etc. Evaluate their use, such as, are you using them daily to justify the spend? If not, consider cancelling them.
Take advantage of points Credit Cards & Rewards Programs. I have always been skeptical of credit cards in the past, even when Jack and I took out our mortgage I didn’t feel like it was a necessary to have a credit card even to build my credit rating. I took the plunge at the beginning of this year and now have a Lloyds Avios Credit Card. As I travel for work I can combine my air miles alongside the points I have collected from my spending. I can then splurge the points on trips out, upgrading flights or even free flights! I kind of got the bug for collecting points and now have countless Rewards Cards including a, Boots Advantage Card, Nectar, Tesco Clubcard and so on. Its amazing how quickly the points add up to free money and hey, who would say no to free money?
Scoring cheaper deals such as flights by clearing your browsing history. Always make sure your cache is empty before moving forward with a purchase such as flights, car insurance and so on. If you have been researching something its surprising just how quickly those prices can suddenly increase. Its a deliberate scare tactic to pressure you into buying quickly.
Date night doesn’t have to be expensive. When Jack and I first met date night consisted of a night at the movies or indulging ourselves at a restaurant. Nine years on, we have adapted date night to more in-expensive ideas. Which actually means when we do head out to a restaurant normally for a special occasion we tend to enjoy ourselves more. Jack and I both love to cook and trying out something new is not unusual for us, date night would consist of trying a new recipe and renting a movie we haven’t seen. Just as enjoyable but a little more scaled back with delicious home cooked food and wine.
Go Thrifting. These days its not unusual to purchase something pre-owned. I have bought and sold a few things via this method and now-a-days there are several places that make thrifting feel just like online shopping. Depop is perfect for clothes and shoes, whereas Gumtree is good for second hand furniture, eBay on the other hand has a mix of everything and also allows you to buy internationally with all import costs paid up front. Which means no nasty fees once it crosses the boarder.
Order as much as you can online when free shipping if on offer. No joke! I will order anything online if I see I can get free shipping and returns. Our local Tesco Express has a post office inside which is only a couple of minutes walk from our house. So if I plan on ordering something online and do not go over the “free delivery” amount I tend to order a couple of extra bits just to push me over the edge (don’t judge!) but I can guarantee over the years I have saved a pretty penny.