How to Save Money in the UK

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Most people want to try save money on their monthly bills but in 2021, this becoming even more relevant due to inflation and supply chain issues pushing up prices on a seemingly weekly basis.

And as someone who loves to save as much money as possible, I thought I would create a list of some of the ways that you can save money!

Make a Record of your Spending

Before you can start saving money, you need to know exactly what you are spending money on and for that you need to keep a record.

A spreadsheet is the best way as you can then record the date, what you bought, who bought it from and how much you paid for it. This allows you to have a good breakdown of your spending and you really want but using something as simple as the notes section on your phone is better than nothing and there are also apps you can get to do this.

You will need to do this over a period of at least a month so that you can see exactly what you are spending and where, you can then break it down into sections such as:

  • Food & Drink
  • Living Expenses (rent, mortgage, utilities etc)
  • Transport Costs (car payments, insurance, fuel etc)
  • Entertainment (tv, subscriptions, cinema etc)

This makes it much easier to see areas of your spending that you can possibly save some money and it might also shock you a little bit as to how much you spend on certain things throughout the month.

So now we know what you are spending every single month, lets look at some of the areas that you could potentially save some money!

1. Pay Off High Interest Debt

One of the best ways to save money is to pay off high interest debt and for most people, this is probably going to be on credit cards and not paying off this kind of debt can mean that you end up paying a lot of interest and according to Which, the average APR for credit cards in the UK is 23%!

While this is mostly credit cards, any debt which is charging more than 5% interest annually can be considered as high interest and the quicker you clear these debts, the less interest you are going to pay, which means more money in your pocket than the lenders.

But some fixed term debt such as personal or car loans may incur early payment penalties, so check with your lender what this penalty is before paying of the debt so that you can figure whether clearing the balance or going to full term with the loan is going to better for you financially.

The other money savings tips in this list may be able to help you clear your high interest debt off quicker.

2. Your Mobile Phone

Pretty much everyone reading this will have a mobile phone (some of you may even be reading this on your phone!) but they can be a huge expense every single month with the average UK contract costing £45.60 according to the Money Advice Service.

This is a large amount to be going out every single month and when your contract is coming up for renewal, you can save yourself a lot of money by considering the following:

  • Switching to a SIM Only Contract – this is great option if your phone is still working perfectly and could see your monthly bill come down quite a bit.
  • Make Sure you are on the Right Tariff – many people are on the wrong tariff and are paying for things like data or minutes that they don’t use, use your providers app or online account to check your usage and switch to a tariff that suits your needs.
  • Not Getting the Latest Flagship Model – we all like new shiny things but you be paying a premium each month for the latest iPhone or Samsung models, unless they have a particular feature you need, consider an older or lower spec model as they are usually cheaper.

I have taken this to the extreme as I don’t use my phone that much when I’m not in the house and I am currently paying £10/m for a relatively basic sim only contract.

It went up to £10 earlier this year but for the past 4 years, I had only been paying £8/m, which was a considerable saving from the £28/m I was paying before that, meaning that over that 4 year period I saved a total of £960!

I’m only upgrading my trusty old iPhone 5s this year as it won’t update to the latest Apple software.

3. Shop Around for Insurance

Yes, I know it is boring and time consuming but shopping around for insurances such as:

  • Car Insurance
  • Building and Contents Insurance
  • Mobile Phone Insurance
  • Pet Insurance

Can save you a lot of money, for example, I saved £120 on my car insurance this year just by spending a couple of hours on comparison sites and then phoning my current insurer to see if they could match it.

You may also be able to get better cover for less just by shopping around, it will probably be the most boring morning/afternoon of your year but if it saves you money, then it is time well spent in my opinion.

Also, check to see if you are paying for insurance you even need, some people are paying for insurance on phones that they don’t even have anymore. That is where checking your bank statement every month can be very useful and if you find out you are paying for insurance you don’t need or use, then cancel them!

4. Shop Around for Utilities

Basically the same as shopping for insurance, it is incredibly boring and sometime mind boggling but changing to the right energy tariff can save you a lot of money every year, especially as energy prices are going up seemingly all the time.

Once again, price comparison sites are great for this and then speaking to your existing supplier to see if they can match the competition.

5. Cancel any Unused Subscriptions

Pretty much everything seems to be a monthly subscription these days and the £8.99 here and £9.99 there can soon mount up to be a lot of money going out of your bank account every single month, especially if you aren’t using them on a regular basis.

So you want to do a bit of an audit on all of your subscriptions by:

  1. Adding Them All Up – this one might scare you a little bit
  2. Ask Yourself if You REALLY Need it? – if it has been more than a couple of months since you last logged into Netflix, Disney+ or Spotify, then you can probably cancel them

The great thing about many is that you can quickly and easily sign back up to them if you want to start using them again.

6. Stop Buying Coffee!

By this I mean stop buying coffee to go from places like Starbucks or Costa as it is one of the most expensive ways to buy coffee as even a standard Latte will cost you over £2 and while buying one of these a day might not seem like much, if you work 5 days a week, that’s £10 a week or £40 a month.

According survey into the UK’s spending habits commissioned by Dacia in 2019, the average Brit spends between £215 and £334 a year at coffee shops.

It would be better if you either made your coffee at home at took it with you in one of those travel mugs that keeps it hot or buy a jar of coffee to have at work.

And we spend a LOT on take away coffee here in the UK, a total of £3.9 billion was spent in 2019 yet 24% of millennials don’t put any money aside for their retirement.

7. Take a Packed Lunch

This is very similar to not buying a coffee as many people will go out and buy something for their lunch when they are at work and while a McDonalds, Greggs or even a Tesco Meal Deal can be very appealing, it can also work out to cost you quite a bit across the year, especially as the average lunch costs £6.08, which works out at £1,459.20 across the year (5 days a week x 48 working weeks a year).

It may take a bit more time in the morning or even the night before but it can not only save you money but you could also eat healthier as well, so it is a bit of win-win situation.

8. Shop for Bargains

One of the best ways to save money is to shop around for bargains and you don’t have to go extreme couponing where people buy a complete weekly shop for £1.73 but finding out when your local supermarket discounts their chilled food or bread (usually in the evening but it does vary) can help you save quite a bit of money on your weekly shop.

You may also get to try lots of different foods, which adds some variety to your weekly cuisine and may could make your packed lunch more exciting!

Shopping for bargains doesn’t just apply to food as shopping around for deals or sales on electricals or any other household goods can save you money.

9. Search for Discount Codes or Coupons

Just like I mentioned above, you don’t have to go to the extremes on this one but a quick search for discount codes or using browser extensions such as Honey (which do the searching for you) can provide you with some decent savings, sometimes it may be something as simple as free shipping but as Tesco say, “Every little helps!”.

There are also sites like Money Saving Expert that find voucher codes that can also be used in store and HotUKDeals that is community of people who find deals and post them for people to take advantage of, there are also Facebook groups dedicated to this kind of deal hunting.

It may take a little bit of time but some savings can be quite significant, especially for larger purchases but just a note of caution, some people do get addicted to hunting to bargains/discount codes as saving money is a pretty awesome feeling.

What to do With These Savings?

Depending on your circumstances, the things I have mentioned above could have a little impact and save you a few pounds a year or it could potentially save you hundreds or thousands of pounds a year (I hope it is the latter!) but what should you do with this extra cash?

Well leaving it in your current account probably won’t do much as they pay little to no interest, which means it is losing value against inflation so you ideally want to make it work for you as best you can and to help you out, I have created a post on how you can invest £100 in the UK, which might be a great starting point to get your money working for you.

Anyway, I hope this post has been helpful and given you some ideas as to ways you can save a little bit more every month so that you aren’t wondering why you don’t have much, if any left when it comes to payday.