Twelve months ago I set myself a challenge to see just how much I could save in a year…
The Saveometer challenge was my way of seeing exactly how much the tips and deals I feature on Be Clever With Your Cash could actually save someone.
Rather than guess, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and do it for real myself.
I wrote down EVERYTHING I spent during 2014, and how much I saved from full price, plus anything extra I earned such as cashback.
I knew I was good with my money, but I never expected that I was doing this well. So how much exactly did I save in the last 12 months?
I saved (drumroll please)…
Actual amount I spent – £23,473.01
True value of spend – £37,390.24
That means I spent 37% less than I should have.
What does that mean?
The idea wasn’t to spend as little as possible. Do that and you could easily save even more money. But would you have any fun? This was about getting more for less.
I still lived my life as normal, which included Glastonbury festival, a holiday to New York, a new iPhone and eating out far too much. And if something didn’t have a saving, I didn’t turn it down – some things you have to pay full price!
Saving £14,000 doesn’t mean I’ve got that money left over. Though I did put into savings accounts throughout the year, I only included interest earned in this challenge.
It’s better to think of it as how much more did I get for my money.
It’s like getting a £22,000 pay rise
If I’d done all the things I did last year, gone all the places, bought all the meals and so on, but done it at full price, I’d have needed a salary of £52,000 to break even! I earn nowhere near that and would have gone well into debt. Plus I wouldn’t have put anything aside for my wedding this year.
To do it all at the prices I actually paid, you’d only need a salary of £30,000 a year.
That’s essentially a £22,000 – or 43% – pay-rise before tax!
How did I do it?
You know when people say every little helps, well it really does. Yes there were some three figure savings such as when I renewed my home insurance and bought a new freezer. But they only made around £1,000. Really it was the £1 here and £20 there that made the bulk.
Here are some of the ways I paid less and links so you can read more – but just search the site and you’ll find plenty more.
- Using my railcard, Tesco Clubcard points and following my other train tips such as booking 12 weeks in advance saved me over £500 on rail travel. In fact planning ahead helped me save over £1,000 on all types of travel from hire cars and transatlantic flights to hotels and currency exchanges.
- My student card – which anyone can get for around £25 – saved me £100s on tickets to see live Premier League football alone, and much more besides. Discount sites like Groupon and Living Social even more, especially on cocktails!
- Something that’s easy for everyone to do is cut back on your supermarket shopping. I didn’t even go to Aldi or Lidl (there isn’t one near me) and I paid 43% less than full price over the year. That works out as nearly £1,200 worth of food I didn’t actually pay for, often better quality stuff.
- There were also the ‘virtual’ savings, where I replaced normal spend with a cheaper alternative. Taking a packed lunch to work from May onwards meant I saved a fiver most days of the week – that was over £550. Replacing CDs and MP3s with free Spotify and swapping Sky for Now TV or Netflix around £30 every month.
It wasn’t just paying less – I also made a little extra
It wasn’t all about finding cheaper alternatives. Cashback from TopCashback and my Amex credit card on my spending bought in a whopping £1,000. Interest earned on my savings came to £500 thanks to current account stacking.
Plus don’t turn your nose up at freebies – they came to £1,650! Yes I wouldn’t have bought that puzzle from WH Smiths, but it made a good gift for my folks. Signing up for newsletters got me £100s of free tickets to top West End theatre productions, while the O2 Priority Moments app gave away everything from my Christmas cards to free cinema tickets.
Could you save as much?
My savings are compared to my spend. If you spend more you could probably save more money. If you’ve less to spend, you’ve less to make. But if you look at it as a percentage, I saved 37%. I’m sure most people could easily get close to a third more value from their cash.
Part of the way I measured a saving was against someone who didn’t save at all – which is pretty unlikely. But I know plenty of people who spend over a tenner at work every day on lunch and coffees, think nothing of getting a black cab rather than tube or bus, auto-renew their insurances and have never used a comparison site.
I think a decent saving is achievable for everyone – even if you’re limited for free time. I wasn’t entering every competition under the sun or going out of my way to pick up things for nowt. Yes, it does take more time to shop around, but I hope this article helps you see just how much it can be worth.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably already clued up on some ways to be clever with your cash. But there’s more you can do, and that’s why I started Be Clever With Your Cash – to help others find ways to get more for their money and still have fun! Make sure you sign up for my newsletter and follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ to read my blog posts and deals first.
I’m looking forward to not writing down every time I spend money, and I’m certainly not going to keep such detailed records. But I have got a budget to stick to in this wedding year, so I’ll still be making sure I keep track.
I’d like to see how you lot do and if you can even beat my percentage saving, so keep an eye out in the coming weeks for details of how you can take part in the challenge and write a blog post for Be Clever With Your Cash. You can email me if you’d like to know more.
2014 Month By Month Totals
Actual Spend £2,401.21 / Value Of Spend £3,817.86 / Saved £1,416.65 (37%)
Actual Spend £1,305.25 / Value Of Spend £1,888.20 / Saved £582.95 (31%)
Actual Spend £2,209.29 / Value Of Spend £3,538.68 / Saved £1,329.38 (38%)
Actual Spend £2,339.99 / Value Of Spend £3,622.89 / Saved £1,282.90 (35%)
Actual Spend £1,883.45 / Value Of Spend £3,137.28 / Saved £1,253.83 (40%)
Actual Spend £3,067.50 / Value Of Spend £4,282.29 / Saved £1,214.79 (28%)
Actual Spend £1,756.41 / Value Of Spend £2787.55 / Saved £1031.14 (37%)
Actual Spend £1,677.90 / Value Of Spend £2,440.05 / Saved £762.15 (12%)
Actual Spend £1,639.33 / Value Of Spend £2,691.40 / Saved £1052.07 (39%)
October to December 2014:
Actual Spend £5,194.68 / Value Of Spend £9,186.05 / Saved £3,991.37 (43%)