Practical tips and straightforward advice that'll change the way you shop for the better.
If there was ever a time to have built up some savings, it’s been over the last 20 months. With the coronavirus pandemic having seen us all locked in our homes, unable to socialise or travel, for those who have been fortunate enough to retain their jobs there’s been a lot more scope for squirrelling away unspent money.
But if your savings aren’t looking quite as rosy as they perhaps could have, Bola Sol is the woman who can teach you how save painlessly. Because let’s face it, anything to do with facing up to our financial future can be an anxiety-ridden minefield.
Sol, a maths and finance graduate, is committed to helping women talk openly about money matters. Which is why you can find her as the co-host of The Last Three Digits podcast, and leading weekly chats on her Instagram @bola_sol. She created the platform Refined Currency and Rich Girl Chronicles in 2015, and now she’s written, How To Save It: Fix Your Finances, to help us. Here Bola shares her expert insight on futureproofing your cash and making it grow.
“If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s that life is unpredictable. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan for the foreseeable future. Here are my 7 money-saving shopping hacks that you can start today,” she says.
1. Join reward programs
Think about how often you go to the supermarket. Yes it’s the only destination for most of us. Well, ask yourself, are you part of their current reward scheme? If you are regularly putting money into some companies, you might as well get something back from it. Tesco currently offers discounts on selected food items for those who have a Clubcard. The greatest part of getting these rewards is that there’s no limit on how many companies you are with. From Marks and Spencer’s to Nando’s, every time you spend, you’re earning points that can lower your costs. If you don’t want to carry around the loyalty cards, there’s a free app called Stocard where you can save them to your phone.
2. Always compare prices
At times we can just go for the first price we see. However, the key to saving more is having a look around at other prices of goods and services you want. The categories that you do this with are endless, from food shopping to travel deals, there are so many ways to find out if you are getting the lowest price possible. Always remember, the first price you see isn’t always the first price you should pay. Do some more research, make comparisons and then make an informed decision.
3. Food shop later in the day
Have you ever noticed that the price of some goods seem to be cheaper in the evening? Some products are reduced heavily towards the end of the day because stores need to make space for fresh stock in the morning. Use this to your advantage to get a cheaper shop overall and go food shopping in the evening.
4. Reduce your monthly expenses periodically
We should all get paid for being a loyal customer. Whether it’s your phone provider, your broadband provider or any insurance policy you have out, you should be rewarded for your loyalty. Every year, when it’s time for renewal, make sure you check other providers to see what price they can offer you. If it’s cheaper than what you’re currently getting, inform the company you’re with and ask them for a better price. There are so many discounts available that companies have that we tend not to ask for. Remember there’s also a retentions department which is there to turn customers into repeat buyers and stop them from going to a competitor. Get haggling and get the most for your money.
5. Hold on to your plastic bags
It may not sound like a big deal but having plastic bags at the ready before you enter the supermarket is proving to be more important than ever these days. When you come prepared, not only are you saving money on the ever rising price of plastic bags but you are also helping the environment. If you can, keep some in your car and keep a spare one in your bag. Better to be prepared than to remember at the checkout.
6. Have ‘no spend’ days
If you were to have a look through your transactions, you’d be able to see how often you spend money. Whether you’ve popped to the shops for a snack or you’ve ordered something on Amazon for next day delivery, things can really add up. Make a conscious effort to have a few days a month where you don’t spend any money. It’s a great way to exercise discipline, plan ahead and make it a habit not to spend money for the sake of it.
7. Get cashback
Cashback does what it says on the tin. When you purchase a good, you’ll get a percentage of the amount you paid back to you. It’s a great incentive that is given on some credit cards but there are websites that you can get money back on too such as Top Cashback and Quidco.
In times like these, saving money is imperative. Once you’ve implemented these hacks, the next question to ask yourself is, what are you planning to do with your newfound savings? Will you add it to your emergency fund? Will you top up your long-term savings or investment accounts? The choice is up to you so get active and start making conscious cutbacks to add to your money.