save money create wealth
Save Money Create Wealth
How to save money
Money, that elusive stuff is something that we're all chasing. I'm fortunate to live in an area where there is 'alot of money around.' Sadly, not as much of it is in my household where I'd like it, so in this time of recession we're having to tighten our belts, just like everyone else.
It's funny how, some of the truly wealthy people, or 'Old Money' are often the ones who live most frugally, prompting friends and colleagues to call them 'tight'. Well, why not? The money's always better in your own account rather than the supermarkets, or the CEO's private yacht.
Ok, some people around here still draw water from the well in a bucket, heat only one room in winter (and then not very much) and prefer to use a torch rather than a 40 watt light bulb, and only when needing to read the Financial Times. For me, there's a fine line between saving a few quid and abject misery. Although, I have been mulling over whether it would be cheaper to pitch a tent in the lounge and just live in that over winter. Hmmm......
Our household expenses were running away with us last year, so I decided to spend a little time looking at cutting them down to size. We pay pretty much everything by direct debit, and it's Soooooo easy just to let those payments tick along without investigating them too much.
The first thing I did was budget. Yawn! I know, it's tedious and dull, but if you don't know where you're spending all that money, how can you save it?
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As we live in the middle of nowhere I set up both bank accounts online, so that I could see what was happening in as close to real time as possible.
Next, I set up my budget on Excel, with absolutely everything in it. The main place we were bleeding money was into the local convenience store. We were spending a small fortune on bits and pieces in addition to our main supermarket shop. Convenience stores are more expensive than the big guys, particularly here as everything has to be ferried up on to the Moor via teeny, tiny, lanes.
So, the plan was to buy a little more at the supermarket then give ourselves a cash budget for 'extras' and not go over that amount. Using one little pot of cash, rather than card transactions for the whole of the week's extras really works, as you can see the pile dwindling. It's always harder to part with ready cash than just blip the card, and it makes you think about whether you really need stuff, like those fur trimmed, pink washing up gloves that look soooo cute, or the little brush shaped like a potaoto, or the.....
The next thing I did was to go through all our utility bills to see where there could be savings. An example: our teenage daughter had left home some while before, but we were still paying around £80 per month for our water. I contacted the water company and asked them to recalculate our payments based on two adults and one child rather than two children, which brought our monthly payments down to £48.00. Like I say, the money's better in our account rather than the water company's!
I did this with all our direct debits, and managed to save on our gas, pet insurance, car insurance and electricity. I'm much more prompt at reading meters and keeping tabs on these big companies, and much better at entering it all in the budget spreadsheet.
On the subject of water. We have a gas boiler which heats the water as you use it from the tap. However, you have to run the water for a little while until it becomes hot. I measured how much water is run off before any heat worth noting comes through. Two full washing up bowls! We were just emptying these down the drain each time we wanted hot water. Now, we boil a kettle to do a bowl of washing up at a time, and it works out cheaper. We're also much better at not washing up the odd knife or spoon. We save it until we have a bowlful. Has to be better for the planet also, as we're not wasting water.
Tip: if you have your wood burner on in the winter, you could keep a kettle of water on the wood burner, so you always have hot water ready when you need it.
Tip: How many times a day do you wash your hands? Most people run the hot tap to do this, but have finished washing their hands before the water has even come through warm. Your boiler fires up as soon as you put the tap on, so you are spending money on gas straight away. It's much better to use the cold tap unless you really need that hot water.
It still seems to work out cheaper for us to visit the supermarket than to shop online, providing we go with a list and stick to it!
Tedious I know, but we plan our meals around our work and life committments (although this can be difficult when your partner is a reserve firefighter and liable to dash out of the house at the trill of a bleep!). However, we do our best, and we waste much less food this way. By planning ahead and making a list, we find we only visit the supermarket every ten days or so - can't quite stretch it to fortnightly yet. Anyhow, this saves a little petrol also.
Supermarket Own Brand Products
Yes, we're guilty of buying these. Why pay £1.50 for a bar of soap, when you can buy the supermarket own brand and have three bars for 19p. It's soap, it looks, feels and smells OK and it gets you clean and your teenager will still leave it in a slimy mess in the shower tray! Ok I'm being a little flippant here, not all of the own brands are good, but it pays to try a few. You'll quickly find the ones which are as good as the market leaders. Anyway, don't be a victim of the Ad campaigns, buy what you like, not what the marketing people tell you you should like.
Become a Card Tart
I have taught myself to become a 'card tart.' I tend to use my credit card for big purchases, then like many people take ages to pay it off monthly, along with all the interest this acrues. I'm much stricter with myself now. I switch cards regularly to benefit from the 0% balance transfer offers, then enter in my spreadsheet when I need to make the next switch. I don't want to give the card companies any more of my money than absolutely necessary.
I generally go on to one of the big comparison sites which are out there, such as moneysupermarket.com and that works well for me.
If all of this fails, there's only one thing for it. You'll have to go out there and take some extra work, but that sounds even more tedious to me!
Grow Your Own
For the cost of a few packets of seeds and a bit of time and effort, you could grow your own veg and save loads of money. If your garden's not big enough, consider an allotment. I'm on my third allotment now and we grow enough veg to feed us the whole year round, which makes a huge saving on our shopping bill.
I won't go into the How To bit here, as that's a whole set of hubs in their own right. Just watch this space.
Tip: I'm writing this in September, and you really should be buying your garlic and onions, to get them in next month.