Tuesday, 10 January 2012

My Frugal Five, or Beating the Money Fritter

I am a Marvel, Magician and Illusionist Extraordinaire!

For you see, I can make money disappear! 

It is so easy to just scatter money away, it seems to fall through your finger tips and disappear into the black hole of “money spent frittered on nothing in particular”.

How often have you visited the cashpoint in the morning and taken out say £50 and by the end of the day there is only £12 or £7 left and yet you cannot pin point where it went as you mentally back track through the day. “Nope, you bought your petrol with a card” you think as you look at your depleted funds and lack of newly acquired physical possessions.

So where did it go? I can give you examples the £3 coffee, the £5 at the car wash, £2 on a magazine, the list is endless and really if we stopped and thought about it, these are amounts that we are happy to spend and yet can really eat into the notes in our purses and wallets.

I will give you an example, today I popped out at lunchtime from the office and just walked to the nearest corner shop where I bought a bottle of diet coke £1.20 and a TV magazine 42p. Total £1.62. I only had £5 on me so got change of £3.38.

How quickly could you fritter that £3.38 away? Or would you be heading back to the cashpoint for more then? 

So Here are My Frugal Five or tips to try and beat the “money flew”

1)    Take lunch to work. If you spent £4 a day on lunch a day that is £20 per week, which is roughly £960 per annum (for only 48 weeks per annum) that is the price of a holiday.

Really when it comes to lunches at work ignore the glossy magazine recipes and KIS – keep it simple. It is so much more likely to work then.

I often in the summer turn up on a Monday with a loaf, a few tomatoes, butter and salt. I toast the bread, butter it add sliced tomatoes and sprinkle salt. It really is delicious and costs tuppence ha’penny as my grandmother would have said. Winter, I wander in with a tub of soup (sometimes homemade and sometimes from the supermarket).

Forget trying to impress colleagues with you culinary expertise. Just buy a few basics for the cupboard and freeze a couple of loaves of bread and you will always be ready to go. Or make extra dinner and take some leftovers.
2)    Turn the heating down. I was out for a couple of hours last night, so as I left W Towers, I turned the heating down from 23 to 15. I am not paying to heat it up when I am not here. I also often get home on really miserable days and hop straight into the bath to warm me up before I start making dinner etc

3)    Remove all 20p that pass through your hands and place them in a savings box. You will amazed how quickly this will mount up without you noticing them going. At the end of the month, I bet you have about £20. Just saving these could net you up to £240 towards Christmas if you start now.

4)    Is your bank worth it? Two years ago I looked at my main bank account and realised I was paying nearly £20 per month for it’s use.
“But”, they argued “You get all this free with it”

AA Membership
Mobile phone insurance
Credit / debit card insurance
Holiday insurance.
Overdraft facility to £500
A very sexy gold debit card (actually this was my favourite part of the account – how shallow!)

It is not free! I am paying for the privilege – just under £240 per annum. I started looking into it.

I got AA membership with work, my mobile was covered under my household insurance anyway. I was only going away once per annum and could get covered for about £12 for the trip. And the bank would give me (then) a free overdraft with a basic account, which cost nothing per month.

Result? Within 1 month, I had a very unsexy debit card in a mouldy colour, but had saved myself a couple of hundred pounds per annum.

Your account may or may not have such freebies, if they do, look at the actual cost and check out whether such services are worth it.

5)      If eating out and you want to cut the bill slightly my absolute “go to” tip is when ordering drinks always always always order tap water. I love diet cola, could drink it by the bucket load. But, when I go out for dinner with friends, which is about once per month. I always order a diet coke and a glass of tap water AT THE SAME TIME. By doing this, it stops you spending extra on drinks soft or alcohol which can increase the bill a lot. A couple of cokes in a restaurant could add £4 to your bill. One day I may get to the point of always asking for tap water and never buying soft drinks / alcohol. In the mean time, baby steps..

Not all these might work for you, but just writing this list had made me think of all the areas where money can be saved. And I would love to hear your tips too!

Frugally yours

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I really love reading all comments. So please tell me what you think. Abigail