I am a marketing and communications consultant and freelance writer. From the UK, currently living in the Gold Coast in Australia. Check out my website www.sarahsays.com.au or follow me on Twitter @SMPallett
Published January 2nd 2014
Money money money, it's always funny
It's hard to save money - often we know we should but don't know where to start. Having just had a baby, I have to rethink my finances and make my money last longer. He are some tips for saving money in 2014.
Credit cards - Put them on ice, literally! Apparently you can freeze credit cards in a bag or block of ice and they won't be damaged. Of course pulling a credit card out of a wallet means you can use pretty easily, however having to defrost means you will have some thinking time and it makes it much harder to do those impulsive purchases. A great, and less final, alternative to cutting them up.
Online shopping - If shopping online is your thing, remember it is real shopping and it is real money, so only get what you really need and can afford. When you add items to your shopping basket, leave and go back in a few days to see if any discounts or offers have been added.
Also you can have another look through and remove anything that you no longer want or that your not sure about. We have all got items home and decided we no longer want them, leaving your basket for a few days gives you time to rethink and remove without the hassle of returns.
Shop around - I am totally guilty of sticking with providers simply because I have been with them for a long time. However it is such a good idea if you have credit cards, bank accounts, credits cards, mobiles, store cards etc to research any deals on credit card transfers, switching bank account, transferring loans and switching suppliers.
January is a great time as there are so many offers, sales and incentives that can save you money - for just a bit of time, looking around at interest rates could save you plenty. Websites like moneysavingexpert.com are great for free advice on how to get saving in a none restrictive way.
Only take cash - We are all so used to paying by card, often using cash seems old fashioned, but it could just save you some money and certainly stop impulse buys. When you head out, only take cash, and more importantly only take the amount you will need. That way when out and about you can track how much you are spending and also it will force you to only get what you are meant to.
Free stuff - You may have to seek them out, but every major city and town has lots of free stuff that you can enjoy. Quite often when we think of where we can go for free, we struggle to think of somewhere. But there are exhibitions, parks, museums, tourist sites, galleries, markets, beaches, gardens and more aplenty that wont cost a thing.
Searching on Google will help you find places to visit that will keep those hard earned notes in the wallet - you could sign up for event websites newsletters which will list upcoming events locally. That way you still feel like you have a life, even though you are being cautious.
Pledge to save - Saving just 20 (dollars / pounds) - per week will save you just over 1000 over the year. Not bad, and who will miss a 20 note each week - perhaps you cut out a few coffees, no take away this week or walk somewhere instead.
Start by putting in a sealed money box, that you cannot get into easily, and add in any loose change too. You will be surprised by the end of the year (perhaps a Christmas fund, for a weekend away) how much you have saved, and for just 20 a week the sacrifice won't be too great. If you just don't trust yourself then you can ask a friend to help - get them to set up an online savings account and transfer each week or give just them the cash and ask them to keep safe.
Pre-loved - Whether in person at markets or car boot sales or online on Gumtree and eBay, second hand stuff is a great way to save money on products at a fraction of the retail price. By no means, now in this throw away society, does second hand mean old and cheap - you will be surprised what people want to get rid of or throw away.
When I moved house, some items I just couldn't take with me - I would rather them be enjoyed by someone for a small cost, than to just throw away. There is even a free section on gumtree where people just want to clear space, so they offer items for free that you can collect locally. Local markets and car boots are great too, often you have to sift through lots of unwanted stuff but sometimes you can find exactly what you want, plus if you are handy or know someone who is, you can repair items if they need fixing up.