The ‘credit crunch’ may be over, but the economy has not yet fully recovered as regards salaries versus cost of living. It is hard to make money stretch to cover all the necessities, never mind those little pleasures that make the world a nicer place. Here are some tips to help you enjoy some of the more indulgent treats without breaking the bank or skimping on the mortgage or rent.
Enjoy Your Favourites – But Less Often
This is probably the most obvious tip. If you are used to going out to dinner every week, or to the movies two or three times a month, you can instantly save a lot of money by dropping that down to once a fortnight or once a month. In this way, you still get to enjoy a social environment and keep up-to-date with the latest entertainments, but you are still saving precious pennies. Just be wary of allowing yourself, for example, more treats from the concession stand as a reward for going less often! Spending more while going out less is not the idea!
Ask if shops you use offer a loyalty card scheme. These offers usually give you money-off vouchers, special discounts, or even a gift on your birthday. Sometimes their points can be converted and used to pay for treats like movies, experience days, or nights out. If you would be spending the money at the shop anyway, it makes sense to sign up for any programs that give you a little something back. Lovemoney picked out some of the best schemes around.
There’s an App for That!
Discount apps are a new and growing market. Do be sure to pick wisely, and only opt for one or two such apps. Check reviews, read the terms and conditions and make sure that your information is going to be safe. Having more than one or two apps will mean that you spend far too much time trawling for deals – and wasting time is not always the best exchange for saving a few pennies. If the app offers it, opt to receive a daily email or notification listing all the deals and savings on offer, rather than being bombarded with (sometimes irrelevant) notifications throughout the day when you are busy with other things.
Look for Specials
Keep your eyes peeled for good deals in your favourite supermarkets. For example, Asda wine offers (and often beer deals too!) can give you excellent products just pennies above cost price. Big supermarkets can afford to run campaigns like this, and they do it to encourage people into their shops, secure in the knowledge that many people will be unable to resist stocking up. Once in the shop, people tend to look around and pick up other odds and ends that they need, thereby boosting overall profit for the business: a win-win for both!
Budget Says Yes!
It is a mistake to budget every penny on necessities. Try to put a little aside for treats when you are adding up your income and outgoings. A good way to find a little leeway in the finances is to overbudget slightly – for example, if your gas and electricity is eighty pounds a month, try to budget anything from eighty-five to one hundred pounds for it. Once the payment has been made, move the extra into a separate bank account, or even withdraw it and put the cash in a jar or piggybank. Get into the habit of ignoring that account or piggybank and discounting it as ‘real money’. This way, once or twice a year – more often if you can afford to overbudget by quite a bit – you will have enough for a day out, a slightly more lavish grocery shop than usual, or something similarly indulgent.