Occasionally, I introduce a guest blog that I think will benefit our audience.
Today, I would like to introduce to you Jennifer Kempson, who writes under the blog name of Mamafurfur (calm down guys, it’s not what you’re hoping).
I asked Jen to write a piece on how we could all save £100 pm simply by finding ways to reduce our household bills.
At Stupid Is The Norm we place the emphasis on increasing income by hard work. However, the fastest way to create extra disposable income is to stop spending so much money.
So ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mamafurfur…
Being smarter with your money is one of the key life skills that will make a huge difference in anyone’s live – and all budgets.
One of the most common questions we ask when we feel the money pinch is “Where can I cut costs and save money?”. I believe it is quite easy to find even £100 hidden in your spending patterns already. Let me share with you my top tips for doing just that.
// You got to Budget…at least a little bit
Right back at the basics for any household is in order to Save money or be Smarter with your money, you have got to know where you would like your money to go each month.
Ultimately the underlying key factor being we need to ensure we don’t spend more than we receive each month, and by looking at how much we bring into our home and regularly spend in rough areas (such as food, transport, fun times etc) is a great place to start.
Sit down with your last few month’s bank statements and write down an average month for each Household Bill (Essentials of keeping the lights on and food in your bellies) and everything in between.
When you are starting to use your money smarter, a great place to start is to have a dedicated Spreadsheet or physical book where you note all your incomes and outgoings, and your planned spending.
See exactly where your money is going every month and you might discover a few surprises that you had forgotten about such as that old magazine subscription or direct debit for a service you don’t use.
// Use Cash back Apps or Comparison Tools before you spend – potential savings £20-40 a month+
One of the most obvious ways to save money continually is to use as many ways to gain money back from your purchases where possible throughout the year.
I personally love using ComparetheMarket.com and then follow that up with TopCashBack whenever I am making any purchases online.
Particularly it is so important each year to note down when your annual insurance and renewals are due – and use that time to allow companies to fight for your business with cashback incentives or cheaper deals.
Phone contracts another great place to start, so phone up your supplier and see when you are out of contract. By suggesting you might cancel and leave them for another supplier, usually can see your bills 25% cheaper at least.
All Utilities companies work in this way too, and shop around every time you reach close to end of contract for your Internet, Television or Gas & Electric bills. Most times you can save easily £10-50 a month by using websites like GoCompare.com to quickly scan for the best deals, then have a quick chat with your current supplier.
Ignorance is not good enough when it is your hard-earned money, it’s time to take 30 mins once a year and see what deals you can get OR what cashback you can be given for your custom.
Personally, this year alone our family has saved nearly £250 in cashback with our family pet insurance/car insurance alone and also receiving 2 for 1 cinema tickets each week for the next year ahead.
That extra money saved with Cash backs can then be used to save, invest or put towards any debt as we wish.
Even with your food shopping, there are some great comparison sites such as MySupermarket where you can load in your online shopping baskets from any UK supermarket and it will compare pricing for all the competition PLUS make suggestions on where to save money with deals.
// Meal Plan ahead – Potential saving £20-40+ a month
One of the biggest spending habits that causes money to fly away from us is not planning ahead what we will eat each week. That leads to those post work runs to the supermarket where every promotion for chocolate and crisps, and things we already have four of in the house (hello pasta sauce!) end up in our baskets and our purses.
With a busy life, one of the quickest ways to save money is to look at your meal planning habits and get smarter with them.
Personally, being a working mum of two young boys, I plan my meals for the whole month ahead leaving only top up shops once a week needed with my money. Those top ups only require perishable items such as milk, bread, fruit and any essentials we have run out off randomly. I can keep the same basic budget for food spending each month, as I know what to expect.
I believe meal planning alone can save any family up to £40 a month or more when the habit of impulse food shopping or going to the shops without a plan is changed.
// Give up the takeaways and convenience foods – £80+ approximately
Along with meal planning, another simple way to save money with your food shopping is to plan ahead home cooked meals instead of purchasing take away or ready meals.
Firstly, your health will thank you but secondly, you will potentially save up to £80+ a month with this one action alone if you enjoy a take away at least once a week (averaging £20-25 for 2 people alone).
A simple way to ensure you are eating homecooked meals is to use monthly or weekly meal planning, open up those easy recipes online (I have created a Meal Planner Guide even if you are stuck with over 185+ easy recipes and Dinner theme ideas on my site mamafurfur.com), and batch cook at the weekend any meals that last well in the freezer. Simply take out your meal in the morning, or even better place it in the Slow cooker before you leave for work, and when you arrive home the meal will be ready to heat up or sitting ready for you to dish out.
// Think about doing as much of your spending online to cut transport costs – £10 a month
Purchasing as much of your total spending online makes so much sense when you can use Cash back websites as well, everything from clothes to fridges, but also it is good to remember you can save money that you would have spent on travel and transport to collect the goods.
I particular find that when I use an online supermarket service for my weekly and monthly food shopping to deliver directly that I save money and even better time obviously for doing the same shopping.
Often you will also find that you can purchase a yearly “delivery” token meaning you can place as many deliveries as you like within that year for the cost of roughly £40-50.
If you were to shop every week that drops the cost down to around £0.80 for transport and for someone else to give up time to pick it and deliver it to you.
I also find that online shopping services come with more discount code promotions (such as £4 off a £40 shop) and even you might get products added to your shop for free.
Be sure to check out your local area online supermarket shopping providers to find out if it is a good way for you to save time and money.
// VIP or Downgrade your non-essential spends regularly – potentially £10-50 per month
To save money quickly – give yourself the “VIP or Downgrade challenge” as I like to call it!
Look at your last month’s spending on none essential purchases such as Sky TV, Gym memberships, Magazine subscriptions etc.
Test your spending every few months by taking these non-essential bills and go “cold turkey” for a week or monthly only.
By setting yourself a temporary goal of going without for only a short time, the sacrifice won’t seem so tough and you never know what you might find out about your spending patterns in the past.
With your food or transport, test out lower costings options every once in a while, too.
Take the bus instead of the train if you can, or even better try walking more (free exercise and healthy of course).
With your favourite food items, test out another local shop that might be cheaper such as Aldi or Lidl and try their versions.
Don’t like them? Go back to your original favour knowing you have at least tried an alternative.
Love the new cheaper version? Well done – you have made your money smarter now and buying what you enjoy with it.
You can even make this saved money from non-essentials work smarter by using it to now pay off any outstanding debt you have too.
// Turn that £140 a month into £20k savings on autopilot
The single most important principle, and the younger you apply it the better, is to use a portion of your current monthly income to create more money by giving the bank it in a normal savings account, or investing.
Now that we have mentioned just how easy a few habit changes can lead to freeing up more of your money to do things you love with instead, I want to tempt you with the potential of what you could do with that money.
The power of compound interest is described as the 8th wonder of the world, and when we consistently invest our money each month into a high interest saving account – my personal favourite is an Investment Stocks and Shares ISA – that is when the magic can really happen to change your life.
If you were to open an Investment ISA, that allows up to £20k per person to be saved tax free each year, and selected a good mutual fund or Index linked fund with even an average of 5% year on year growth – that £120 saved every month over 10 years would be worth £20k.
Keep saving each month same amount for 30 years, and you have roughly £114k.
If you used the S&P500 index fund for example with it’s average of 8% year on year growth, then after 10 years same money each month would be worth £25k or after 30yrs nearly £200k.
Without realising you would have created a passive income that you could use to support your life that would autogenerate interest for you with those very small changes in spending and saving habits.
I particularly love helping people set financial freedom goal amounts, the final value amount they need in high interest savings to live off indefinitely for life and the values are not as crazy as you might expect.
Absolutely any budget can be financial independent from having to work for a living with a little more knowledge on how to use their money smarter.
On my blog and Youtube channel (youtube.com/c/mamafurfur) you can find many investing information videos and tutorials should you be interested to find out more, and even show you how to work out that financial freedom exact amount!
// Make your Money Smarter – it’s your turn now!
Money should be our tool, not our Master, and often in today’s society people get quickly stuck down a path where each month is the same endless debt and overwhelming frustration and they don’t know how to get out of that cycle.
Take time to think about ways you can be smarter with your money each month, to ensure your hard-earned money is truly working for you rather than against you.
Think about what you do with your money; don’t leave it to reactive habits but rather make active choices about how you want to use it today and in the future.
About Our Guest Author
Jennifer Kempson, aka Mamafurfur, is a 30-something Scottish Working Mum with a passion to help others create the work life balance & lifestyle they wish with time & financial freedom, sharing Smarter spending, saving and lifestyle strategies. Outside of her blog, she is currently finishing her first non-fiction book covering these very topics.
Currently nominated for two UK Money Blogger awards in Best Personal Finance Blog & Best Money Vlog catagory.