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Smart Ways to Make Positive Changes in Your Budget

Looking to be a bit more sensible with your finances? Maybe you’re fed up of running out of money mid month- or perhaps you have a new savings goal that you want to reach. You might want to get out of debt, or even just feel more organised. Whatever your motives are, being organised with money is no bad thing- here are some smart ways you can go about making changes. 

Smart Ways to Make Positive Changes in Your Budget - in control of your finance image

Switch bill providers

The companies that you pay your bills to are highly competitive, meaning a little shopping around will snag you the best rates. Every year, run some quotes through price comparison sites, and switch to the company which will provide you with the best rates and overall price- it makes no sense to be loyal to the company you’re with as they make their money from their long term customers. While you’re always going to have to pay for things like electricity, broadband and insurances, you shouldn’t be paying over the odds. A few hours just once a year searching for the best providers can save you a decent amount of money overall. 

Meal plan

Food is one area that just about all of us tend to overspend on. We all need to eat, and so it’s something that everyone should be more organised in, once a week, write up a menu for the next few days and then shop to that list. When you get home from work you know what you’re having and always have the ingredients on hand to make it. You don’t end up buying what you don’t need at the supermarket and you reduce your food waste too. Go on sites like Pinterest and write a list of all of the meals you enjoy eating or want to try. Then when you’re building your menu each week, you can pick meals off the list rather than having to think off the top of your head (which can be harder than it sounds!)

Set a budget for extra or luxury spends

We all enjoy our little luxuries- when you work hard it’s these fun extras that make it all seem worth it. Maybe you enjoy going out for meals in nice restaurants, perhaps clothes are your thing or you might just enjoy a night at home every now and again with a glass of wine, a takeaway and a few dollars to flutter at a slots casino. We all have our little enjoyment and luxuries and it’s nice to have them, but just make sure you’re budgeting for them. Your bills, food, travel and other important expenses should be paid first on payday. It’s only then should you treat yourself to any extras, using money that’s leftover. It can be helpful to have a cap or limit on your treat spends, that way you don’t go overboard and can save anything you have afterwards and put it in a savings account. 

Set up extra sources of income

Even if you already have a full time job, it’s a smart move to set up additional streams of income. Blogging, freelancing, even a home business can generate extra cash- this can make your life easier financially, help towards your savings goals or contribute to paying off your debts depending on your situation. If you ever lose your job then you have at least a little something to fall back on while you look for something new, and it generally provides you with a bit more financial security. 

Sell what you no longer use

Most of us have new things coming into our home all the time, so decluttering needs to be an ongoing process. Not only is this good on a practical level (we can sell what we no longer use to raise money and make space for the things we do) but it’s also great for mental health and wellbeing. Being surrounded by clutter, mess and having a house packed to the rafters can create feelings of stress and unease- research even shows that a messy bedroom can cause sleep problems. Go through your cupboards, drawers, wardrobes and other areas of your life and sell anything that’s still good but that you don’t use any more. Put this money into a savings account or spend it on debt- either is a much better use than having it tied up in items that are simply sitting there collecting dust. 

Small steps for sizeable savings

When it comes to saving money for your next family holiday or trying to set a good example for your younger children, it’s important to get into good habits. So, whether you’re opening your first savings pot or already an experienced saver, putting money away is something everyone can get into the habit of doing without making it feel like too much of a chore.

While there’s various ways to save your cash, it can often be easier said than done. So, why don’t you challenge yourself? Become a habitual saver by trying the 52-week saving challenge. Save £1 in your first week, £2 in your second week and so on. By the end of the challenge, you’ll have saved an impressive £1,378 plus any interest!

Sainsbury’s Bank Visual Guide to Habitual Saving

Balancing Money Saving with a Social Life

One of the biggest problems people seem to face when saving money is to be able to socialize at the same time. It is often misconstrued that these two things cannot be compatible, which is totally false. It requires is a little bit of budget analysis and bargain hunting in places, but most of all it just requires more research.

Work out the Budget

Firstly, look at the amount you need to save and work out a time frame so that you can budget effectively for that period.  Make sure that you don’t try and save too much so that you are able to spend money on other essentials and leisure. This requires a fair amount of time to make sure all of the numbers are worked out, with a contingency plan for any unexpected occurrences.

There may be a way to rearrange your funds to accommodate your leisure time. For example, if you only eat home cooked meals 4 times a week, you could change that to 5 or 6 times. You may spend more on groceries, but a lot less in the long run.

Bargain Hunting

This is pretty self-explanatory, people every day are constantly looking for ways to get bargains, whether it be through coupons or discount codes. One of the best examples of this is Groupon, which is a website/app that finds discount deals for group events. The brilliant thing about this is that the deal literally requires you to have a social group to attend with you.

Choose the Right Event

When money saving, choosing the correct event to attend is an important part of both of the previous points. This goes hand in hand with budgeting as you shouldn’t go to an event that you know will cost extortionate amounts of money for minimal experiences. There are so many options for reasonably priced, great experiences, comedy clubs London being one example among many. It is all about how much effort you put in.

It is always important to prioritize certain things, but it is also important for the mind to enjoy yourself from time to time. Even if you still can’t afford these things, don’t let it stop you from socializing. You can still go to cafes or invite friends to your home, which can definitely brighten your day. For something extra to brighten your day, check out this brilliant infographic containing some entertaining jokes.

Savvy Studenthood Doesn’t Mean Skimping

Becoming a student is an exciting time for any young person, with a lot of changes coming their way. You will have loads of newfound freedom, a chance to learn about something you love, and, most importantly, your first opportunity to manage your own money. Finance is probably the scariest part of getting into this part of life. Having never managed it before, you will have a lot of learning to do, and not much time to do it. Of course, though, if you’re savvy enough, you might not have to have a hard time at all.

Savvy Studenthood Doesn’t Mean Skimping - student working image

(Image Source)

What You Spend: In reality, most students have little reason to spend money on anything other than rent, food, and the other essentials which come with life. Of course, you will probably want to spend something on yourself, too, but this shouldn’t cut too far into the money you have. Companies like Urbanest can help you to find student accommodation in luxury locations and with beautiful interiors, and they don’t have to cost more than what you would get with the university itself. Often having bills included, this can save huge amounts of money, and you won’t have to compromise on your living situation to achieve it.

Books, Books, Books: One of the most expensive parts of studying is the paperwork which you have to buy to go along with it. With some books costing as much as a new smartphone, it’s easy to see how it can be hard for people studying to afford these materials. In most cases, though, you can find very similar content in the form of e-books. Digital books like this are best read using a tablet computer, but this will only cost the same as a couple of your core texts, and may be able to save you money.

Something On The Side: While the life of student can be a very stressful one, it often isn’t very busy. For a couple of months each year, everything will be full steam ahead with your work. But, for the rest of it, you will either be slowly learning or away on long breaks. During these times, you have a great chance to make some money, and it will only take finding a job or starting small business to do it. With some extra finance in your pocket, it will be a lot easier to get through the year with a good amount of money saved up. Of course, it can be worth dropping this once you have gotten back into your studies.

Hopefully, this post will inspire you to start working harder than ever before on your studenthood spending. By finding ways to make things cheaper, make some extra money, or even get things completely free, you will make it easier to avoid compromise in your living. When everything is new and life is getting overwhelming, being comfortable will be very important, and a lot of people will find it hard to learn how to look after their money when they aren’t earning anything.