Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Small steps, big payoffs

Well September has started without a hitch – new budget, new start.

Shopping wise, we are again taking part in MoneySavingExpert’s monthly grocery challenge and have set ourselves £120 budget for the month, covering 2 adults. This includes food, wine, any cleaning materials. However, as my hubby won lots of wine last month for reaching sales targets, we should be ok, and as I bulk shopped for quite a few things in August, that will also help. Cleaning wise we don’t spent much in supermarkets, as you will see below.

Small stuff we have started to do in the last 2 years, that doesn’t ‘hurt’ much:

Downgrading from brands – I have never been a brand lover but trying the supermarkets own has started to feel easier, we try bread, tinned items, and much more. I find that especially with tinned items there’s much money to be saved.

Using Freecycle and other networks – when you need something, you ‘put the word out’ on networks like that and you may find someone has it as junk that they need to get rid of!

Squirreling / snowflaking savings – At the end of each month, if we have any money left, it gets put into savings. Sometimes I even do this during the month and save as I go… makes a surprising difference, the odd pound here and there. I used to do it so that £53.89, would mean I would transfer £3.89 to savings. I have an IceSave savings account for this and keep tabs of what that total is made up of in a spreadsheet. For our joint account, anything in there at the end of the month goes to our ISA.

Printing vouchers – It’s true that so many more restaurants, bars, brands and leisure companies are trying to get our attention now. I have found more eat out vouchers in my e-mail inbox than anything else recently. So when I want to go out to one of our favourite eateries, we choose the place that has the best vouchers on at the time. This for us is Yo Sushi, Ha Ha Bar and Strada and you can’t turn around these days without at least one of them having an offer on. My friends are all into this as well now to save some cash, I like to think I have converted them! Of course there are also supermarket vouchers and other money saving opportunities on travel and more...

Household cleaning – A while back I discovered a) soda crystals and b) that washing powder is cheaper than liquid powder overall for washing your clothes. So by pouring boiling water into the tray prior to washing, and mixing half the normal amount of powder, plus half soda crystals, my washing is much, much cheaper, and with the boiling water treatment, no white marks.

I am also a huge fan of Stardrops if you can find it – around £0.70p for one bottle and as it is concentrated it will last you a long, long time. Use is sparingly diluted in water for most household cleaning. I like to add a little to a spray bottle with some aromatherapy oil, fill up with water, and use this for all kitchen cleaning. SD is also great used neat for stubborn kitchen stains and so much more. Just type in ‘Stardrops usage’ into Google and you will get the idea! Best £0.70p you have ever spent and I have even given it to friends and family!

I am also a convert to baking soda, now available in 500g boxes from Tesco for £0.99p. I order mine online and save on carrying it home…

Making your own – We have started to make our own bread and yoghurt, as well as keeping our own basil, parsley, thyme, a chilli and a red pepper plant. It’s a small start in a small flat, but we’re happy and will see what else we can do in time.

Top notch savings – We ensure we both have the best ISA account rates, so that interest is growing on our savings at the highest level it can. Once both our ISA’s are full, and we have therefore kept the taxman from taking any of that money, we then save to the best instant savings accounts. I rarely have the patience for fixed term deposits, the only exception being a deal that IceSave did recently, and my account matures in November on that one. I will then return to normal instant savings with them. By transferring money electronically each month, the transfer hits faster and so starts to earn quicker. I can’t recommend highly enough that you start transferring a small amount per month into savings, as soon as you get paid. ‘Paying yourself first’ is an essential building block in getting some money saved up for rainy days. You never notice it, and it should be a priority for anyone who has no debts to pay off.

I will add more tips as I can think of them but do drop your own comments here so we can share money-saving ideas!


Rajesh Vaidya said...


I found your article quite interesting. The principle of "Paying yourself first" is amazing...I started taking it seriously and in just about four months, it has given me great rewards.

There are couple of books that I came across recently on Personal Finance.Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad Poor Dad, Rich Dad's Guide to Investing, Rich Da's Cash Flow Quadrant are very useful. Geoger Clason's The Richest Man in Babylon is the must read for beginners and pros alike.



SGist said...

Thanks Rajesh - I have revised my recommendations - forgot I had read Rich Dad, and have also heard many good things about the Richest Man in Babylon. In the Tightwad Gazette (the first one) Amy mentions a acse of 2 neighbours, both having the same wage and lifestyle, but one couple saving more and looking for chances to make money, I thought that was a great concept as the other couple ended up seeing them as 'having it all', when in fact they just made more effort.

Anonymous said...

You might also find it relevant to read the Automatic Millionaire. A bit american, but definitely following the principle of paying yourself first.