When we started the journey of buying a house our first priority was saving enough money. We wanted to be even in what each of us put in, and we wanted to be as cash-rich as we could be to keep our mortgage down, but we didn't want to miss out on life.
It was easy for me to get carried away in guilt from spending on a coffee, yet easy at other times to get carried away spending on frivolous things - only to have the guilt a week later looking sorrowfully at my bank balance. Becoming more and more snappy and miserable I was reminded by friends and family that I ought not to be quite so consumed by saving, and just be mindful of putting money aside without feeling guilty about the occasional coffee. They were right and it was a huge learning curve for me.
Does any of this feel a bit familiar? Please tell me I'm not the only one!? Some people seem to find money management easy while I just find spending it easy. Eventually, we reached our target deposit and I wanted to share some hints and tips on how we got there without becoming social recluses. The first question I asked myself was:
Why Can't I Save?
There are a few habits that lots of people don't realise they have, which can be detrimental to saving and reaching a specific goal. After experiencing most of the below myself, I thought I'd share just in case you recognise any of them.
The Secret Spender
Secret Spenders are often the only ones who are completely baffled by why they can't save. The secret is only being kept from them because they have no idea how the small purchases they regularly make all add up more than they realise. The morning coffee and croissant, buying lunch every day or having a three-course meal when two would suffice are all secret spends that make a real difference. The morning coffee and croissant, for instance, is about £3 a day, which is £15 a week. 52 weeks later, you're looking at £780. Shocking isn't it! Nearly a thousand pound spend on coffee, could be an entire room transformation with change leftover, for a coffee?
Tally up your weekly spend, by recording a 'normal' week and multiplying by 52. Figure out where the majority of your money is going and decide whether it's a sensible spend. If it is, is there a way to reduce it? If you can't, go to the next largest spend on the list and repeat until you are able to save some extra pennies. If that doesn't help, question whether there is a cheaper way of doing things. For example, you've decided you desperately need your morning coffee; buy a Keep Cup (save the environment, yay!) and save 50p on every sale in Pret. Five coffee's later and the cup would have paid for itself, and you'll have an additional £10 a week.
The Impulse Purchaser
These guys are so easily swayed into making a purchase, that they need no persuasion from sales, discounting or an offer. They often have a severe case of The Wants, and are unable to leave a shopping trip without making a purchase. They are not window shoppers, although they might try to tell themselves that they are. Often they are heard making excuses and giving reasons for making a purchase to suppress any guilt from making the spend. They can be found looking puzzled at a text from the bank, saying their overdraft is quickly approaching...Sound like you?...Step away from the new shoes!
The easy way to solve this, but also the hardest is to avoid shopping altogether without a specific list. There must be no deviation from the list without losing something on the list. It's one in one out from here on in to make you prioritise what's actually important. Simple, yet effective.
THE QUEEN (or king!) OF SALES
All hail! She/He can be found rushing around in January welding bags upon bags of bargains. Bargains that are 'totally handy' or 'will be great with that blue dress', except, there isn't any need for another egg poacher and the blue dress already has a pair of shoes or five to go with it...I think you catch my drift. Unnecessary purchases are often made because of sale-induced panic caused by Ending Soon and hysteria caused by Up to 70% Off.
At the beginning of each month, make a list of things you need to buy and do not deviate from this list without thinking about the impending purchase for a minimum of 3 days. Just like the impulse purchaser, if anything is added to the list something else must be removed. Sale purchases can still be made (shocking, I know) if the item is on the list. If not, it's not to come home or even be added to basket and if it's really vital, add it to next month's list. You'd be surprised about how much doesn't make it passed a few days. P.S. pre-agree the number of items allowed per month. If you are a QoS (Queen of Sales), keep to a list and not a budget. If you have a budget, you will use it all on low value items that you do not need. Never buy anything in a sale that you wouldn't purchase at full price. Don't say I didn't warn you!
The SHORT SIGHTED
This bargain hunter is more than likely adding things under £10 to their shopping bag without much thought. They wont be able to work out why they seem to be endlessly buying loo roll, cleaning fluid and white t-shirts; or at least thats how I felt. The idea here is that buying cheap and cheerful rather than looking for value for money is not a good place to be because you will always end up spending more money in the long run. Buying better loo roll for instance, with more on a roll will mean you use less and therefore it will take longer to run out. The same goes for cleaning products, like the Fairy Liquid adverts where less product gives the same clean as a cheaper version. Quality is so important, as the longer things last the less frequently you buy them. Thus, saving your pennies and also the environment!
Look for recommendations rather than buying the cheapest option. Quality is often found through word of mouth, rather than buying into advertising or shop signage, e.g. buy one get one free doesn't always mean the best value. Buying a large box of tea bags might be cheaper by bag than two smaller ones on BOGOF. Compare offers to full prices products and check labels, especially the handy ones at the supermarket that tell you the price by weight or volume rather than by product. Buying a bigger bottle of bleach might mean you go over your normal spend, but it will mean you save on petrol, time and by clean!
Found some home truths? #sorrynotsorry. They might be a hard pill to swallow but I promise the antidotes above will help in the long run!
Admittedly I even feel guilty now at the thought of overspending in a month, and panic when my bank balance dips below my safety number post-Christmas. But, I do remind myself that it's ok to overspend some months, just not every month! If it happens, I just make sure to get back on track the month after, and try not to think about 'what could have been'. In the meantime, make a plan and get into a new habit squashing any anti-deposit/building work/renovation/furniture budget, spending habits. Good luck! And let me know how you get on over on Facebook or Instagram!
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