5 smart ways to save money

Saving money doesn’t have to just be about extreme thrift. Here are some smart ways to boost your bank balance. 

If you think saving money sounds boring, you’re not alone. Who wants to fret about every penny?! Thankfully, with a bit of creativity and planning, saving money doesn’t need to be too much of a chore. Here are some smart ways you can start saving money. 

  1. Embrace planning 

The first step towards making any cutbacks to your spending is to figure out where you spend the most money. For a lot of people, their biggest spend is on food. Think about it: how many times have you been caught short for dinner and ordered a takeaway or an expensive ready meal because you’ve not done a good enough food shop for the week?  

Eating out (or ordering in) can take a huge toll on your budget, so try and embrace meal planning to save money. Plan what you’ll eat for the week, make a list, and stick to it. Never shop without a plan! 

  1. Make your bank do the hard work for you 

Many banks have started offering ‘round up’ services, where every purchase you make is rounded up to the nearest pound and the difference is stashed away in a savings pot. For example, if you buy something for £3.80, 20p is automatically saved for you. This can be a good way to start saving, as you’re unlikely to notice small amounts being taken, and you can move the money back into your main account at any time if you need it. 

Banks that have this feature (usually as part of their mobile banking app) include Monzo, NatWest, Starling and Lloyds. If your bank doesn’t offer this feature, you could try the autosaving app Plum, which works in the same way but isn’t a bank account.  

3. Hunt for bargains 

It’s an obvious suggestion, but search around for bargains before you buy. This can mean going to outlet shops and waiting until sales to buy, but there are savings to be found year-round if you know where to look. The HotUKDeals website [https://www.hotukdeals.com/] is a treasure trove of offers, and the browser add on Honey [https://www.joinhoney.com/explore] automatically searches for and applies discount codes when you’re checking out online without you having to do anything. 

4. No discount? Get cash back instead 

Sometimes you’ve just got to buy something even if there are no discounts to be found online. If that’s the case, we highly recommend checking to see if you can get cashback on your purchase. Two popular sites for this are Quidco [https://www.quidco.com/] and Topcashback [https://www.topcashback.co.uk/].  

They work by tracking your purchase when you click through to a shopping website via a link on their website. Sounds too good to be true? Both Quidco and Topcashback are highly regarded, and Quidco explains that retailers pay commission to Quidco for each customer they send over, and Quidco passes a portion of this onto their customers. 

The only annoying thing about these websites is that your cashback often takes a while to be processed, meaning it can be weeks or even months before you can get your money. But if you’re buying something anyway, you may as well take advantage of a bit of extra cash back, just remember not to count on it coming quickly. 

5. Shop second hand 

It’s easier than ever to find good quality secondhand clothing and home goods, so you’re missing out if you’re not making the most of popular second-hand selling sites. Vinted is a fantastic app for finding clothes, homewares, books and toys, and Facebook Marketplace is a great place to look for bigger things you can pick up locally.  

If you’ve got a lot of stuff at home you’d like to get rid of, why not spend an afternoon listing them on secondhand marketplaces? Children’s clothing does particularly well on Vinted, so have a clear out while you’re bargain hunting.  

If you’re not a fan of shopping online for pre-owned stuff, keep an eye out for local car boot sales or markets. Little Pickles Markets [https://littlepicklesmarkets.co.uk/], who hold markets across the country, are a godsend for people with babies and small children, and kilo sales are great for anyone who loves vintage clothing. 

Starting to save money doesn’t have to be daunting, and modern technology can even take the hard work out of it, proving that saving small amounts here and there soon adds up.