In need of cash injection? Asks the experts how to slash your spend with style
When was the last time you were in the black? And, no, we don’t mean that LBD you wore on Saturday. Times are tough: the average debt of an adult in the UK and 318 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt every day. But, you don’t have to give up the good life to be cash-savvy. Follow our top tips to ensure the red zone doesn’t become your permanent residence.
- Open an ISA : If you do one thing, make it this. ‘The first saving product that any tax payer should have is cash ISA’. An ISA (individual savings account) provides favorable tax benefits and is a great way to boost your savings. ‘They’re simple and accessible’. Talk to your bank to find the best one for you.
- Learn to negotiate : While some prices are set in stone (loo paper, for example), others-like a phone contract – have some wiggle room. And if an item is damaged (think a jammed zip or make-up stains), you can often get money off to compensate – just ask. ‘Speak to a manager as they have more authority to negotiate,’ tips money-saving expert.
- Shop around : Money-comparison are a real godsend-use them! ‘Nothing can save you as much as shopping around’. And don’t just use this approach for ‘serious’ purchases like insurance. Countless sites will compare prices from different retailers of anything from TVs to clothes and sofas to DVDs, so it pays to do your research. ‘These sites makes it easy to compare prices for any product you’re shopping for’.
- Master your kitchen : ‘People blow a lot of money on dining out and pre-prepared foods’. If you want to save some cash for that Mulberry bag, hot new dress or fancy gym membership, it’s time to pull out the pots and pans. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes to your bottom line. ‘If time is an issue, ‘spend one night a week preparing a large meal so you can eat the leftovers for lunch during the week or for a quick dinner after work.’
- Get automated : Keep coming up short at the end of each month? Recommends setting up an automatic transfer from your everyday funds into & saving account. ‘Arrange for money to come out every pay day. ‘This is the easiest way to ensure you boost your bank balance without even thinking about it.’
- Take the sting out of your bills : Reduce the groan factor when you open those dreaded bills. ‘Take shorter showers and wash your clothes in cold water’. Dry your clothes on a rack or line, and if you must use your tumble dryer, ‘Do one load right after another to maximise the built-up heat,’ advises personal finance expert. She also suggests cooking with a microwave as they use up to 50 per cent less energy than a conventional oven. To lower your electricity bill by as much as five per cent, try this simple tip : ‘Plug your appliances into a multi-socket extension lead and, when it’s not in use, switch it off.’ Done!
- Make your plastic fantastic : ‘Approach shopping for a credit card like you would any other important purchase’. Do your research, compare terms and conditions and figure out how you’re going to use your card. ‘If your plan to carry a balance and not pay it off in full every month, look for a low-rate card’. If you’re more interested in perks (American Express offers air miles, for example) then search out a card with a reward system that really suits your lifestyle.
- Hunt for coupons : There’s no shame in a good coupon these days! Coupons aren’t just for the supermarket’. ‘You can find them to travel, electronics, clothing, health and beauty items, entertainment and much more.’ Before you buy anything-both online and in-store-do a quick Google search of the shop or websites name plus ‘coupon’ to see what pops up.
- Avoid impulse buying : Yes, it’s fun to imagine you’re on supermarket Sweep but your bank balances will suffer if you don’t take stock of what you’re, er, stocking up on. ‘Shop with a list, and ditch the big trolley. ‘A basket fit less and gets heavy quickly, so you’re putting into it’. Also suggests asking yourself, ‘Is this something I really need?’ Getting into the habit of pausing before you pay will give you a new perspective that will bolster your piggy bank in the long-term.
- Get smart with insurance : The higher your deductibles, the lower your monthly insurance payments will be. ‘Review all your policies at least once a year’. ‘Sit down with an insurance broker to see where you can afford to cut back, but still have adequate coverage.’