The mere mention of “budget” can send many an adult to cower underneath the bed. If you’ve never budgeted before, it’s an understandable reaction!
Budgeting can be a stressful and time-consuming practice: Gathering receipts, organising expenditures, keeping a daily diary of how much you spend and on what you’re spending is a lot to take on without a clear plan. But don’t fret — we’ve created a budgeting guide to start you on your way to being a super budgeter. You’ll be saving with ease in no time!
Being an active budgeter isn’t just about keeping tabs on expenses — it’s also a way of thinking you have to settle into. You’re not going to wake up one morning and suddenly find yourself constantly thinking of saving. It takes time to start thinking like a budgeter!
Whenever you’re shopping, ask yourself the following questions before tossing an item into the cart:
1. Do you really need this?
As consumers, we’re used to having everything we need, and want, right at our fingertips, especially when we’re shopping online. However, this ease in purchasing often blurs the line between our wants and needs. Do you really need that new blouse? Those new dishes? Or are you just itching to buy something new and not something that you really need?
2. Where will I put this?
If asking yourself, “Do I need this?” doesn’t leave you with a clear answer, the next best thing to do is think about where it will go. If you draw a blank or realise it would be a hassle to fit it in amongst your other things, there’s a good possibility you don’t need to purchase it. Skip the expenditure and avoid the extra clutter at home.
3. Could I get this for a better price somewhere else?
There’s a good chance that the item you need to purchase can be had for a lower price somewhere else. It’s always worth the extra minute or two to compare prices, especially if you’re shopping online — all it takes is a couple of clicks. PriceRunner is a good choice because it covers everything from electronics to home appliances, and mySupermarket is a great way to save on your weekly groceries. Both have mobile apps you can use while shopping in-store.
Daily Budgeting Habits
Just as you should start incorporating a budgeting mindset into your lifestyle, there are habits you should try to do every day. That may sound scary, but it’s really not! We’re talking about little things that, over time, will become an engrained behavior — you won’t even have to think about doing them.
1. Waste Not, Want Not
Master budgeters use everything to the last drop, especially when it comes to food. Food waste is a serious issue in the UK — recent statistics show the UK throws away nearly £13 billion of food every year, of which 4.4 million tonnes could be eaten (The Guardian). That’s a serious strain on landfills and on a micro-level, your wallet!
Be sure to scrape the last bits of jam out of jars, eat the ends of bread loaves, do a quick stir-fry of veggies about to turn, etc. Everything you could eat that gets thrown out means you’re spending extra money on food that you don’t necessarily need to purchase.
2. There’s a Voucher for That
Whether it’s a quick trip to the grocery store or a planned shopping excursion, there’s no excuse not to have a voucher! There are many, many voucher apps out there, but we recommend using MyVoucherCodes. You can peruse it while you’re on your computer or pull up the mobile app while you’re in the store. Having the mobile app on your phone can give you some great last-minute savings when you find yourself on an unexpected shopping trip.
3. Going Out (for Free)
You may be surprised by how much you spend on social outings. Lunch, movies, coffees, dinner, enjoying a night at the pub, and many other outings you enjoy can add up quickly. These social activities are important, and wanting to save can make it seem like you have to choose between saving and going out with friends.
We have good news: You don’t have to! Look for free events to go to in your area — maybe a movie in the park or neighborhood festival. Invite people over instead of going out. There’s plenty of ways to still go out but not spend nearly as much. All it takes is a little creative thinking and research. Who knows, your friends might enjoy saving right alongside you!
4. Buy Used, Not New
If you’re thinking about purchasing something new, consider if a lightly used version of the same item would work just as well. Oftentimes it will! Furniture, appliances, electronics, books, movies, games, phones — we could go on and on but the number of “used-is-just-as-good-as-new” items is endless. Try perusing sites like Preloved where you can buy and even sell your own gently used items.
5. Make it at Home
Buying a coffee or tea on the way to work or joining your coworkers for a lunch out can quickly become a steady (and expensive) habit. The average Brit spends £2.24 a day on hot drinks — that’s nearly £70 a month on beverages alone. Lunches and dinners out could significantly increase that number! Try to make that coffee or tea at home instead of automatically stopping at your local coffee shop. The savings will make a big difference, and you’ll feel less guilty about occasional spending on a meal out.
9 January 2016. UK throwing away £13bn of food each year, latest figures show. Retrieved 10 January 2017, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/10/uk-throwing-away-13bn-of-food-each-year-latest-figures-show
12 February 2016. 7 daily habits of the highly frugal. Retrieved 10 January 2017, from http://www.frugaldebtfreelife.com/main/2016/2/10/7-daily-habits-of-the-frugal
Whittaker, J. 21 April 2015. Britain’s diners cutting costs and choices. Retrieved 10 January from, http://futurethinking.com/britains-diners-cutting-costs-and-choices/