Life is getting expensive again.
After a year of lockdowns, it’s easy to forget how much things can add up.
Restaurant dinners, pub trips and weekends away are all making sizeable dents on our bank balances as our social lives are back.
Likewise, those who have returned to the office have been reunited with the costs of commuting, coffees, lunches and more.
And as we’ve mostly been spending less for the last 16 months, it’s been a bit of a shock.
Many are struggling to make their money stretch until payday and we’re all a little out of practice when it comes to budgeting.
If you’re feeling a bit skint at the moment and are looking for ways to make your money go further, we’ve asked experts to share their top tips.
Set up automated alerts
Sarah Holt, head of partnerships at Monese, stresses that a good way to get on top of everyday spending is to set up alerts through your bank or mobile money app.
This way you’ll be more conscious of the way you’re spending, as you’ll get notified every time money leaves your account.
Sarah says: ‘Little reminders like this can really help if you’re worried about getting carried away.’
Hide social media ads
It can be really difficult to resist temptation when the things we want to buy are dangled in front of us on Facebook and Instagram.
A good way to banish this urge is to hide social media ads as soon as you see them.
Sarah says: ‘Spending willpower is hard to maintain, especially when we get bombarded with adverts on social media all the time.
‘You can hide these though if you’re worried they may tempt you to splash your cash – on Facebook and Instagram you can click the three dots in the top right hand corner of the add to select “hide this ad.”‘
Check your bank balance daily
There’s nothing worse than delayed transactions showing up on a bank statement – as these can be a real blow when you’re budgeting.
A good way to stay on top of things is to check your account every day – to avoid any surprises.
Sarah says: ‘It may seem over the top but the best way to really know what money you have left to spend is to regularly check what’s in your account.’
Don’t forget about free activities
Most activities have a price tag – but not everything does.
Make a list of all the free exhibitions, pop-ups and events in your area – then, when you’re feeling the pinch, head to this document for inspiration instead of spending money on activities.
Also come up with creative ways to save cash.
Sarah adds: ‘You don’t need to go out for dinner and drinks to be sociable with friends. Instead, you could organise a picnic in your local park.
‘It’ll work out much cheaper than dining out and will still feel really special after weeks of being stuck at home.’
Shop second hand
Not only is shopping second-hand good for the planet but it’s excellent for your bank balance, too.
So whether you want a new outfit as clubs reopen or to spruce up your house for entertaining, there are plenty of places to buy pre-loved pieces.
Sarah says: ‘Rather than hitting the shopping centre you could look in your local charity shops. With so many people having clearouts during lockdown, many charity shops have reported that they’ve got mountains of items for sale.
‘You might be surprised what unique, low-cost treasures you find. You’re also helping a charity too, which is always nice.’
Don’t forget about freecycle groups and Facebook Marketplace for other bits and bobs too.
Declutter personal finances
Tom Martin, money expert at savings and investments platform Chip, says to take some time to properly go through your accounts.
He says: ‘This includes cancelling any unnecessary subscriptions, which will free up extra money, and making sure you’re paying off expensive debt.’
It may be a little dull, but it’ll be worth it in the end.
Talk to experts
The important thing to remember is that there are professionals who can help if you’re worried about money.
Tom says: ‘If you find yourself seriously struggling, I’d recommend getting in touch with StepChange, the debt advice charity, who can offer free financial advice based on your situation.’
If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.
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