If you’ve had an expensive month then these hidden savings at home can help you spend less.
We all know January is tough financially. December is always expensive, and sometimes there’s a longer wait than usual between paydays. So it helps to be frugal for the month.
Obviously cutting back on your spending is the best thing to do when you’re short on cash. So doing less, buying less, getting the best price and so on will all make a huge difference.
But you can also employ a few frugal tricks that will reduce how much you need to spend in the first place – and you can do it all without leaving home. Very simply it’s by using up what you’ve already got.
From food to entertainment I reckon you’ll be able to find enough forgotten items in your house to replace buying brand new. And when you do need to go to the shops you’ll probably also be able to find a few alternatives you can use to pay rather than cash or card.
Chances are you’ll only be able to do this once, maybe twice a year so if running out of cash midway through the month is happening every month then I’d say you need to take bigger steps, starting with a quick audit to find out where your money is going.
Use up the food you’ve got
Check the cupboard, fridge and freezer. You will find all sorts of things hidden away that mean you don’t need to buy as much new food as usual. Just use these items up and then you can restock once you’ve been paid again and things are back to normal.
it’s always worth having a small stockpile ready for emergencies like when you’re too ill to go out or get snowed in, or months like this!
While we’re on the topic of food, you could also try cooking from scratch rather than buying ready-made meals or ordering takeaways. It really can work out much, much cheaper.
Find (new) clothes in your wardrobe
Go through your wardrobe and I’m confident you’ll find a few items of clothing you’ve forgotten about but are perfectly good to wear.
If anything is looking a little shabby then you could see if it’s possible to repair them – if you can’t do it yourself there will be a local shop that’ll do it for a few quid. I got a coat fixed last month for a fiver and it’s as good as new.
Of course, there’s always the chance stuff doesn’t fit you anymore, in which case you could try a “Schwopping” party with friends or check out a charity shop.
Pay with points and gift cards
Do you have a gift card at the back of a drawer, a build-up of never used Nectar points, rewards to your current account or a refund to an online account (Amazon and John Lewis are among the retailers who sometimes do this)? These are all forms of money you can spend now instead of cash. And don’t forget those coffee shop loyalty cards – you might have enough for a free cuppa!
Claim forgotten money and credit
I’ve written before about chasing down forgotten money, and this is a perfect time to actually do it! When we pay for most utilities we’re actually paying a month in advance. So when you switch away, you’ve actually paid more than you needed. Sometimes this is automatically refunded, but not always, so check to see if you’re owed any cash.
Energy bills might also have been estimated, and if you’ve been overpaying your current supplier then you’ll likely have credit sitting there. You can ask for this money to be refunded to your account.
Don’t forget to check places like cashback accounts and money-making apps where you might have enough for a payout to your current account.
Watch DVDs, read books and listen to CDs
Though I have a lot less than I used to, I’ve still got a decent collection of physical media, with hundreds of books, CDs and DVD that I’ve rarely touched since everything went digital.
Well, to save some cash take a month off from your streaming services and actually watch those DVDs. You can also find loads to watch on iPlayer and All4. The same goes for other subscriptions – especially music. Cancel Spotify and listen to some CDs or the radio. And rather than buy a new book or magazine, revisit one of your favourites or head to the library.
If you are paying for TV via Sky or Virgin then you’ll only be able to cancel if you’re out of contract – but that’s well worth doing anyway and moving over to something like NOW TV.
Regift unwanted presents
If you’ve got a birthday or something coming up then check if you’ve anything you’ve been given that you’ve never used that could be a suitable gift. There’s more here on the dos and don’ts.