So, as you’ll know, I smashed my last phone in quite a spectacular way. It fell out of an open-sided bus and I’m still trying to find someone clever to actually repair the thing, or at least get the precious photos of it that I took (and sadly didn’t backup).
Now though, finding a new phone has had to take a bit of a back seat as it’s Christmas. I’m actually getting to the point where I’m having to prioritize boring things like food, heating, council tax and mortgage payments. I’m now in a situation where spending £40 or £50 per month for a new shiny thing is going to have to take a back seat.
So I need to control the expenditure. I need to find ways of actually saving cash and try to stop throwing money away on unnecessary guff. It’s only when you stop to look at your spending and think about how you could spend more sustainably that you realize where you’ve been going wrong all this time. Here’s what I’ve tried over the last few weeks in a bid to get enough cash to either get a contract or to buy a phone out-right!
Set Strict Budgets
I’ve tried this. Believe me, but somehow I keep blasting through the limits I’m setting. It’s either an unexpected school trip, new tyres for the car, a repair bill, a “treat” or something else which smashes through my limit. The wife tells me that my limits are “unrealistic” with my budgets, so we’ve ended up extending them again and again.
We did the weekly shop at Aldi this week. It’s a great place to find bargains, but I ended up getting some cycling stuff from that infamous middle aisle and – in addition to breaking my supposed strict budget – I actually increased the cost of the low-cost shop. In addition to that, we had to do a “top-up” shop at Morrisons in order to get a few items that weren’t available in Aldi. That means a separate journey, more fuel being used and an epic failure in my attempt to save cash.
Choosing “own brands”
We love Robinsons cordial in our house. The Apple and Blackcurrant is a firm favourite and has been for years. It’s affectionately known as “purple pop” and we drink gallons of the stuff. We also have it warm. Another product we tend to stick to is Cathedral City cheese. This always seems to be on a half-price deal, which is good, because it’s proper expensive at full price. Likewise, the Robinsons juice / cordial / pop is equally pricey unless you get it during one of the many half-price deals.
When either of these products are full price, we’ll try another store, or we’ll try an own-brand item. We recently gave the own-brand version of Cathedral City a chance – it was around £3 cheaper and saved us a bit of cash.
Cutting memberships you’re not really using
I’m a member of a gym. It’s only the local council one. When I was looking around for places to go, the prices varied greatly – some would cost over £100 per month, so I plumbed for a £35 deal which doesn’t tie me in. If you’ve got a gym membership that you’re still paying for but you never go to the gym, it doesn’t really make sense to keep paying that money every month, does it? Well, that’s what I’ve told myself too. In recent months, because of the darker nights, I’ve had a tendency to sit on my bum in front of the TV rather than head to the gym. The warm fire is too appealing, and it got me thinking, because that £35 is just about the perfect amount for a moile contract, right?
Well, rightly or wrongly, I chose to pick my bottom off the sofa and go back to the gym. Make more use of that membership and try not get all fat and wobbly.
Check the fees associated with your banking
Our lovely bank has just increased the fees charged if you go overdrawn. It’s purely because of this that I’m switching banks. We pay a monthly fee for some “added extras” and now we’re having to pay a daily fee if we dare to go slightly overdrawn. It’s more money out of the pot and it’s an insane situation to be in.
Getting cheaper software
Doing this and my job every day means that I use a lot of Office apps – Word Processing, Spreadsheet, Presentation software – it all costs money to licence. So I’m now starting to use the free online Google alternatives as a way to save a bit of cash here and there.
It might sound a bit daft, but it all adds up
Not playing the lottery
OK, maybe playing the lottery every week isn’t going to make me a millionaire. It’ll perhaps cost me more in the long run, so I’ve actually stopped putting £4 each week onto this – that’ll save me £16(ish) per month, which again – it adds up.
Although not all of these suggestions will suit everyone, these are the areas I’ve concentrated on to try and save a bit of money. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to make these changes. Rather than trying to make them all at once, it’s perhaps best to look at gradually introducing changes and that way you’ll save more and more money over time.
After saving the money – get the best deal
This of course, is the final goal. Now that I’ve saved money, I need to ensure that I don’t go overboard and spend a fortune on the next contract. The best value is often found in SIM only deals, but that means saving enough cash to get me a new phone out-right. So instead I’m looking through the remains of the Black Friday deals and looking at contract deals.
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