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It’s May… how the hell did that happen? So, four months into 2016 it’s time for the first update on my challenge to live my life by the tips I write.

I’m keeping track of every penny I spend – and every penny less I pay thanks to the tips and tricks I write about on Be Clever With Your Cash. You can read more about how it works, and how I calculate the savings in my “How much can I save by being Clever with MY cash” post from January.

Where my money goes, and where I’m making the biggest savings

  • Value £11,988.87
  • Actual spend £8,323.15
  • Saving £3,665.72 / 31%

In the first quarter of 2016, everything I’ve spent money on should have cost close to £12,000 – but I’ve spent just £8,300, a huge 31% less than it should have cost.

On top of this, I’ve made close to £1,200 from cashback, interest and fighting for money I’m owed.

Together this gives me an increased spending power of 40%!

I’ve broken it all down by category of spending.

Supermarket shopping

  • Value £1,360.38
  • Actual spend £825.82
  • Saving £534.56 / 39%

Easily the most consistent saving I make each month. Though I’m buying for two of us, I’ve included the full cost rather than split it in half.

I generally only go to a handful of supermarkets. My local is a Waitrose, while there’s a little Sainsbury’s, M&S Food, and Tesco Express close to my work. So, despite not using the likes of Asda, Lidl and Aldi, I’ve still been able to spend 39% less than full price – largely thanks to special offers and reductions.

>> Spend less at the supermarket pt 2

Eating out

  • Value £1,523.85
  • Actual spend £1,016.92
  • Saving £506.93 / 33%

This is one area where we’re spending more than in previous years, largely because we’re no longer saving for the wedding. So nice restaurants such as Bob Bob Ricard, Fera, Moro and Dishoom has been a nice treat we wouldn’t have been able to afford before – well at least not all of them!

Generally, these larger outlays are difficult to save on, but we manage to get decent deals on more day-to-day meals, with packed lunches one of the best savings.

Drinking out

  • Value £768.26
  • Actual spend £525.46
  • Saving £242.80 / 32%

I go out a lot less than I used to so my spend is probably just £33 a week. That’s still a decent amount of money, but I do love craft beer – generally more expensive than standard pints, especially in London.

When I have made savings it’s largely through making a choice to go somewhere cheaper (I’m a fan of Weatherspoons) or during happy hour, substituting the odd drink for a glass of water (though that’s as much to do with health as it is money), and getting discount vouchers from the likes of Groupon.

Entertainment

  • Value £883.07
  • Actual spend £479.19
  • Saving £242.80 / 54%

The biggest savings by proportion are on things like sport, film, TV and music. Really this is down to deal hunting and my student card!

This quarter, my NUS card saved me £100 on my Crystal Palace half season ticket, gave me six months free Amazon Prime (worth £39) and saved another £20 or so on theatre and cinema tickets. Seeing as it only cost me £20, it’s more than made back the outlay.

>> Get an NUS card even if you’re not a student

Travel

  • Value £3,040.59
  • Actual spend £2,340.43
  • Saving £700.16 / 23%

It’s difficult to make big savings on travel, but since it’s also one of the biggest expenses, it’s actually where the largest amount of money has been saved.

In part, this was down to buying an annual London Underground season ticket in January. I took a look at my average journey history and worked out a season was the best bet for me.

 

We also shopped around for car insurance, saving a total of £110 – though I’ve only included my half of the cost and saving here.

Other shopping

  • Value £1,487.17
  • Actual spend £925.21
  • Saving £561.96 / 38%

The sales in January gave us the biggest savings here – though it’s also when we spent the most money! A set of curtains was the biggest expense, but at half price they were also a decent saving.

I’ve been taking advantage of discounted Zeek vouchers to make some extra savings on existing offers at Homebase, John Lewis and Amazon. I expect I’ll be spending more on things like clothes as the year goes on, so hopefully I’ll still be able to track down some bargains and keep the saving ratio high.

Bills

  • Value £2,834.25
  • Actual spend £2,194.13
  • Saving £640.12 / 23%

This is the only section where I split everything in two as it’s all shared with my wife.

February saw us shell out for home insurance. Rather an auto-renew I shopped around and managed to save us £200. Again, I’ve only included my half of that bill and saving.

Elsewhere, there’s not going to be much of a change each month as most of the savings are through switching suppliers. Our energy fix ends in October and our BT contract expires in December, so I’ll write more about those later in the year.

Making money

  • Cashback £438.11
  • Interest £150.32
  • Refunds £179.19
  • Chasing and complaints £398.36
  • Selling £220

I’ve written a few times about cashback and interest as easy money to make from your usual spending and any savings you have.

The surprising figures here was how much money I’ve made through “complaining” and refunds. I’ll write in detail about this soon, but essentially it’s mainly money I’ve had to chase. From £78 I was owed by TalkTalk to a £75 bill error from Three, it’s cash it would be easy to miss if I didn’t check my bills.

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