Having savings is always a comfort but it’s not always easy if you’re on a low income or most of your budget is accounted for in priority bills and essential expenditure. But just because you’re on a budget, doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to build your savings. Even having £100 stashed away can relieve a lot of the stress that comes with unexpected bills and emergency expenses.
In order to help with saving it’s important to have a good budget which is reflective of your circumstances. A lot of people think they have a good understanding of their income and expenditure, but often miscalculate because they forget the little things like lunch at work, those extra treats that fall into the shopping trolley at the supermarket, or new boots when winter rolls around.
Once you’ve got your budget sorted, you’ll know where you can afford to make savings on day to day spending and where you can look at reducing your bills.
Switching service providers for things like mobile phones, gas and electricity, and shopping around for new insurance quotes instead of accepting the renewal quote given by your current provider are good places to start when looking at saving while on a budget. You can’t not pay your priority bills, but often you can reduce them. Any money you save by switching providers can go straight in the savings pot for future emergency expenses like fixing the boiler or replacing a broken mobile phone. If you save the money you would have spent on your priority bills to put towards these kinds of expenses, then it won’t feel quite so frustrating when you have to spend your savings to cover the costs.
Sometimes it just happens that one month we spend a little more than we were intending. It could be a birthday you forgot about or some car repairs that are required in order to pass the MOT. Whether it’s a luxury or a necessity, unexpected payments do occur but you shouldn’t have to beat yourself up about them. Instead, bear it in mind for the next month when you’re out shopping or thinking about buying lunch instead of making it at home. Being aware of previous over-spending can make the decision process easier when thinking about buying something new.
A good way to save money without realising it is saving all your spare change. If you pay with a £10 note and get £3.20 change in coins, put them straight into a jar and watch it slowly build up into a small but comforting fortune. Alternatively, you can save the change for small and irregular payments like parking meters so that you don’t have to pay using your debit card. While parking fees are usually small, if you live or work in town centres, they can rack up quickly - £3 here and £2.50 there can easily add up to over £50 a month without you even realising it. If you dedicate your spare change to cover these small payments, then the money in your bank account can be put into savings.
With the wave of technology ever changing, there are more and more ways to use it to your advantage when it comes to money. There are several apps you can download to your phone which help you save money automatically and in fact, a lot of mobile banking apps will do this for you as well. Whether it’s rounding up your change or setting daily spending limits, automated reminders and spending caps can really help you grow your savings, all while motivating you to actively save as well, even if you’re on a budget.
It can be draining to be so concerned with your finances all the time, but eventually it becomes habitual and you’ll find yourself making small changes in your daily routine to increase the amount you’re able to save. Be aware of your finances and hold yourself accountable when you overspend. Try to maintain a consistent budget which allows for small luxuries like on-the-go coffees, otherwise you might find yourself binging because you’ve been so restrictive – saving can be a bit like dieting in that sense.
While you control your finances, you can’t always control when things go wrong which is why having some form of savings is so important. No one wants to be left cashless for the rest of month, and if you’re concerned about being in this position often, it might be worth giving some budgeting and saving tips a try. Or, if you find you are frequently worried about your finances, you could speak to a free, independent debt advisor who can offer you advice on how to budget better and manage your money in accordance with your particular circumstances and responsibilities.
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