January is the worst month for those trying to save. Christmas leaves a massive dent in a lot of our pockets and paying off credit card bills , loans and other costs can leave your bank account looking a little bare. Whatever you earn, it is possible to save money for your future. Whether you want to save for a holiday abroad or simply some new clothes I'll give you some pointers in how you can get the ball rolling.
You may think they're a scam but I can assure you from personal experience they're 100% genuine. Survey companies like Ipsos and Toluna are more then happy to pay you in exchange for your opinion as the research is valuable in developing new products. You can get paid in either PayPal or vouchers depending on the site.
Check out my article on the top paying survey sites
Get paid to use your phone
Yes you heard me right - you can be paid simply by using the apps on your phone. Like surveys there are apps that pay you for your opinion. Apps like OnePoll have really short simple surveys with around 5 questions that pay from 15p.
Check out my article on the top paying apps
Cut your credit card bills
If you don't regularly pay off your credit card in bill the card issuer will be applying a hefty amount of interest on top of your balance. Over time this starts to mount up, and you can get into the tricky circle of paying off just the interest rather than the balance. To avoid this open a balance transfer credit card which will allow you to transfer your balance over to a new provider and be interest free for up to 21 months. This will help you to pay off the balance you have accrued.
Get rewarded with cashback
You can cashback rewards for everything from renewing your insurance to shopping in New Look. Whilst the reward amount varies, if you regularly use cashback providers your balance will soon mount up. What's better than getting rewarded for doing something you'd do anyway?!
Try Topcashback to get started.
Save money with vouchers
Voucher hunting is a hobby worth pursuing, and sites like Moneysavingexpert and Vouchercodes make it a lot easier. They often have weekly or monthly newsletters full of the latest vouchers where you can save money on restaurants, shops and leisure activities. You'll also find great offers on chain restaurants by signing up to newsletters for chains like Bella Italia, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Pizza Express.
Lots of shops these days have loyalty cards that will reward you for shopping. The terms of each card varies based on the shop but saving up your points will allow you to get free goods.
Check out my article on the best loyalty cards
Take a bank bribe
Banks really want your custom and they'll pay you to get it. Switching rewards can be quite large and well worth it with offers like Halifax's £100, and The Co-Op's £200 switch reward. There are often terms and conditions that need to be fulfilled to get the reward but these are often as simple as having two direct debits set up.
Staying loyal to your insurance company is a massive no-no as they really don't value your loyalty. Often they will send you a renewal quote that is several hundred pounds more than the cost you took your original plan out at. One example of this is a insurance company I was with in the past sent a renewal quote that was £200 more than it was the previous year. I did a comparison search and guess what the same company was showing as the cheapest with a quote £200 lower than what I had been sent in the post!
Cancel unnecessary direct debits
You may have set up a Direct Debit a number of years ago for that magazine you loved. You might have lost interest but the Direct Debit is still set up pocketing you money you can't afford to lose. Make sure you regularly review your Direct Debits so you don't lose money on stuff you don't use anymore.
Get a better mobile phone deal
If you're using more than your allowance or even less then what you're paying for, it may be worth looking for a better deal. Alternatively it's worth considering sim only deals, they're a lot cheaper then you would pay if you were getting the phone and the sim and you can still get large allowances on data, texts and calls.
Plan your expenses in advance
Paying things like insurance monthly is a lot more expensive then if you were to pay it annually. The reason being that insurance companies put on a premium for the luxury of you paying it monthly. To avoid this put money aside for large purchases so you can pay it off in full. You'll save money and you won't have to worry about finding enough to pay it each month.
Work out your outgoings
There are a number of free apps available that will help you work out what you spend your money on each month in comparison to what you earn. It will help you work out what you're wasting money on, where you can cut back and what's essential.
Don't dismiss own brand foods
Often you'll find that own brand products are made in the same factory as more premium products. Now I wouldn't say every cheap product is better than the pricier version but it's worth trying them out to see how they fare.
Find out which shop your basket will be cheapest at
Mysupermarket.co.uk is great for comparing the cost of a basket of food amongst the big four supermarkets - Ocado, Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco. It will let you know what you'll save by shopping around.
Make your own
Whether it's a smoothie or a sandwich you will undoubtedly save money by making it yourself rather then buying it in the shop. Experiment with fruit, vegetables and meat to find food and drink combinations you'll enjoy.
Price match promises help you save
Big retailers like Tesco and Asda always offer the price match promise. If your shop was cheaper elsewhere they will often refund you the difference or offer you points to make up for it. Don't forget your loyalty cards!
Buy in bulk
If you can try and buy in bulk. Buying more items at once will help you save money. Make sure you only do this for items with a long shelf life, or ones that can be frozen.
Don't be drawn in by discounts
Discounts are fantastic and can offer great value - but only if you intend to use the item. If you're getting a buy one get one free on soup you'll never eat it's a waste of money. Items like toothpaste and toilet rolls are however a great way to use discounts like this.
Book your meal out online
By booking your meal out on sites like Lastminute, Toptable and 5pm you can take advantage of discounts like 2-for-1 meals and 50% off. You simply book online then let the server know so you can take advantage of the offer.
Join a dining club
Loyalty schemes like Taste Card and Gourmet Society can offer you large discounts at participating restaurants. Tastecard costs £39.99 a year and is accepted at 6,700 restaurants whilst The Gourmet Society is £69.95 and can be used at more than 6,500 restaurants.
Avoid buying bottled water
If a restaurant serves alcohol they have to by law offer free tap water. This will save you loads in the long run on buying expensive bottled water.
Don't forget your left overs
If you don't mind eating leftovers, why not take home any food you couldn't eat. This way you'll get the true value of your meal and a free lunch the next day.
Don't pay through the nose for fuel
Petrol prices seem to get more expensive ever year, but you will find it's available a lot cheaper at some retailers. Supermarket chains like Morrisons often have the cheapest petrol, whilst Shell, often found near motorways are a lot pricier. Check around to make sure you're getting the best deal.
Avoid expensive sat navs
If you can avoid paying a lot for your sat nav. Often you can use apps like Google Maps on your phone and use that as a Sat nav. Alternatively there are a lot of good value apps available that will help you get from A-B.
Buy your car insurance online
Buying your car cover online is actually a lot cheaper then buying over the phone. Make sure you take advantage of that online quote the next time you're renewing.
Join a car sharing scheme
Car sharing not only saves you money on fuel but it's also kinder to the environment too. By sharing a car you can save more than £1000 a year.
Did you know your car tax varies based on how green your car is. If your car is a pollution offender, and if your engine is large you can expect to pay up to £505. Get a car with low CO2 emissions and you can be exempt from car tax charges or even pay as low as £20 a year (That's what I pay with a Peugeot 208).
Rent out your parking space
If you're lucky enough to have a parking space you don't use much then why not rent it out? There are many websites that will allow you to do this - and often the only cost is the registration fee. Locations like London and residences near concert arenas are the perfect place for renting out your space.