In these times of austerity and economic hardship more and more of us are having to keep a much closer rein on our personal finances. If you're just starting out on your own money saving journey then here are some ideas to help get you started.
Manage your budget
It sounds obvious but how many of us really keep a close eye on our spending habits? Spend a month keeping track of exactly where your money goes. Work out your maximum monthly disposable income after you have met all your outgoings and do not spend more than this. If you tend to shop impulsively then leave your cards at home and only take cash out with you. If you run out of money then tough you'll simply have to wait until next month.
Sort out your debts
If you have debts then make sure that you are not spending more than you need to on them. You may find that there are better ways of paying them off, for example, by consolidating them into one loan with a lower rate of interest or by transferring them to a credit card with a 0% balance transfer period. If your debts are out of control then take action. There are a number of solutions that can prevent you from becoming bankrupt such as debt management plans or an IVA. Seek advice from a specialist debt charity if you don't know how best to proceed.
Make your savings work harder
If you are lucky enough to have savings then make sure that you are getting the best return on them. Look at any ISAs that you have from previous tax years and see whether they are still earning a decent amount of interest. If not, transfer them to a better provider. Check that the interest you are receiving on any other savings products is still competitive and, if not, switch. If you are happy to tie your money up for a period of time then you may be able to benefit from higher rates.
Plan your meals
Most households waste food. By planning your meals in advance you can make sure that you only buy what you need and are not tempted by offers and deals as you walk round the supermarket. Meals that you plan tend to be cheaper too as you focus more on seasonal goods, home cooking and avoid expensive ready meals. If the lure of the offers in the supermarket is too much then write yourself a list and shop online so that you are not so easily distracted.
Get the most out of your purchases
Make sure that you get the most of the items that you buy. Cut the tops off of cereal boxes, cover them in recycled wrapping paper and use them as file-holders. Buy smaller tins if you usually end up throwing out much of the content of larger ones. Roll citrus fruits back and forth on your work surface before squeezing them as you will then get more juice. A little time spent researching on the internet will give you loads of ideas.
With a little bit of time and effort it is possible to think of lots of ways to save money. And, once you've started and begin to see the results, you'll find that you can't help looking for more and more ways to cut back waste and maximise your income.