When a new year arrives, we all have great intentions to save more money, with many of us managing to keep on track for a few weeks. But as the months roll by, life can often get in the way. While a big part of learning how to save money is down to determination and resolve, there’s no harm in picking up some tricks and tips along the way.
These money saving tips and tricks to stay on track are focused on the smaller steps that will hopefully create bigger results for your wallet which could go a long way towards your goals – whether it’s a big purchase like a new car or a smaller purchase like a weekend away.
Be specific: Make your savings goals as specific as possible. Otherwise, it’s very easy to end up saving little bits here and there, rather than a weekly or monthly minimum that will make a difference for you. If you are saving for a short-term goal such as a holiday, it’s quite easy to work out how much you’ll need to save each month to reach your target in time.
For longer-term or regular savings, the general guideline is to save 20% of your monthly salary. If someone on an annual salary of €28,000 saved €380 a month, they could have accumulated €4,560 after 12 months. If someone on an annual salary of €36,000 saved €480 (approximately 20%) a month, they could have €5,760 saved after one year. Both are significant amounts considering it’s from savings of €95 and €120 per week, respectively.
If you have a savings account, it’s a good idea to have a direct debit set up the day after you get paid – this way it’s as if you never had that money in the first place and you won’t notice when it’s gone.
Record your expenditures and create a budget: Note down or use a Smartphone app to record your expenditures over a week. Add up the cost of all the non-essential items on the list to see exactly how much you could save with just some small changes. For a full list of the small changes you can make, which can have a big impact click here. After recording your outgoings, create a budget that cuts out unnecessary costs. Remember to include your savings as a monthly expenditure/bill that needs to be paid.
Make small changes: Making a few small changes that may seem like very little separately can really add up when combined. For example, reducing the default brightness (which is usually the brightest setting) on your TV, computers and laptops by 40% could reduce your energy use, cutting up to €110 per year off your bill1. Combine this with throwing your daily/weekly loose change from your wallet into a jar; just €2 a week is worth €104 annually, and you’re saving an extra €200 a year without much thought.
Use cash over cards: It’s very easy to spend more than you need or budget for, if you can’t physically see the money disappear. On the day you are paid, take out your budgeted monthly spending money in cash and split it up into four weekly portions. As much as possible, make your purchases with this cash, it will help you to keep an eye on what you can and can’t afford to buy.
Start thinking in terms of needs vs wants: A good way to break unnecessary spending habits is to check with yourself if what you are about to purchase is actually a need, or just a want; “I need to buy this sandwich for lunch but I could skip the takeaway coffee and make one in work instead.”
Write down your motivation: If you are savings for a specific thing, it’s highly motivational to keep reminders of these around you. Maybe it’s your dream home, a new car or a holiday – keep images of these stuck on your fridge or at your desk in work to remind yourself what it’s all for and how much you want it.
Keep track of your savings: Every month, check in on your savings amount. It’s easy to lose motivation, but to see the money building up can encourage you to keep going.
Search for the sale: When grocery shopping, try to purchase as much of your items as possible from the sale options, there’s normally a specific time or aisles in the supermarket for markdowns. The same policy applies to clothes and all other purchases – always check the sales first.
Sign up for loyalty cards and schemes:
Most supermarket loyalty schemes offer one point per €1 spent, so if you spend the Irish weekly average of €100 on groceries2, you could be looking at 5,200 points a year. Not to mention supermarkets also run special offers where certain items or brands are worth extra points.
If you find you have some extra savings thanks to some of our tips above, or you simply want some guidance on investing in your future, go to our Life and Pensions section and you can learn more here.
1. Cooperativeenergy https://www.cooperativeenergy.coop/news-and-views/5-unusual-ways-to-save/
2. Irish Times. https://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/irish-households-spend-845-per-week-on-average-1.3127763