For the last year, everyone's been talking about how much saving they've been doing thanks to the pandemic. No holidays, no nights out, no brunch or meals out - we should all be rolling in it, right?
But some of us are finding that our pockets aren't quite a full as we expected after lockdown and now that things are open and our invitations to nights out, meals and events are piling up You may find yourself in a bit of a spending spiral - who knew all those late night impulse buys on ASOS and 'we're ina pandemic, I deserve a takeaway' splurges would add up?
Well fear not: We've compiled some of the best ways to cut out frivolous spending to leave you with more money to spend on experiences, rather than things, so you can make the most of your post-lockdown cash!
For clothes, furniture, knick knacks – this is an especially handy tip if you have kids who grow out their uniforms quickly or have recently moved into a new place that needs to be furnished. If you love to shop but need to save a little now, get the same serotonin boost but for a fraction of the price in thrift shops – plus there’s the added rush of finding a real gem at a bargain price in places like these, which makes the purchase all the sweeter! There’s also amazing new online options like Thriftify that let you browse the best of Ireland’s charity shops!
Supermarket voucher schemes
If you’re hitting up the same place for your groceries all the time and giving them your business anyway, you might as well get something back for it. To encourage loyalty, lots of supermarkets work on a points system that can translate into anything from vouchers for food to a weekend away somewhere! Enquire at the customer service desk next time you’re shopping to start taking advantage of this.
Just like having a shopping list can stop you from overspending, meal planning can stop you from wasting food. The two are connected: Don’t buy food you don’t have scheduled into your weekly food plan. You know if you don’t have a specific dish in mind for the asparagus you bought when you were feeling healthy, you won’t use it. So don’t waste money and time on stuff you won’t actually eat and will just wither away in the back of the fridge. Eating more veggie based meals is also good for you and your budget. Having more bean or veggie based meals like curry, pastas and casseroles means you don’t buy as much meat – an expensive basis for a meal that isn’t as good for you. Plus you’ll get more creative with your cooking!
Never settle on the first offer or easy option – and this can apply to everything! Your internet provider, your phone offer, your cereal – always shop around to see if you can get something unbranded or offering a more competitive deal. It might seem trivial, but those few extra benefits for less money build up over time to make a real difference in your budget, so it’s worth putting in the extra research.
Again, this can apply to lots of stuff - ditch your paper towels in favour of cloths that you can reuse until they’re falling to rags, if you have a baby, try use cloth nappies instead of spending a small fortune on disposable ones. It’s a little more work, but once you have a routine down, it becomes easier and it’s better for the planet.
No spend weekends
After the yar we’ve all had, we’re dying to get out and do all the things we’ve been missing out on for the last while, so I totally understand if this isn’t one you want to try. But if you do, it’s well worth doing a little research to see what free things there are to do in your area. In Ireland, all OPW sites are free entry for the rest of the year, meaning that there’s lots of cultural and historical things to do in your area completely free. There’s also hiking, beach days and making your own fun yourselves at home! You just have to get creative, which we all have a lot of experience with this year!
Invest in a flask and lunchbox
This is something we should all just do anyway, especially with talk of offices returning soon. Investing in a thermal flask and lunchbox means you can factor your lunch and coffee break into your meal plan, saving you from spending money on a meal out each day for lunch, when you could bring something perfectly delicious from home!
Invest don’t impulse buy
We’ve all fallen into this trap, and it’s totally okay to impulse buy now and again. But if, for example, you’re furnishing a new apartment and you buy cheap bed linens, bad quality accent pillows to spruce up the couch and a rug that’s been marked down because it’s already unravelling slightly. You may think you’re getting a bargain, but in the long run, you’re actually wasting money. Buying essentials like these for cheap usually means they are made of lasting textiles or materials, meaning that next time you move, they’ll be one of the things you end up dumping before moving to your next place and getting fresh things for there. Whereas if you invest in high quality sheets and homeware, it will last longer and you’ll have invested your money into something worthwhile, that you will look after better and won’t be as willing to part with!
Start growing your own veggies
Or even just your own herbs! This is a really simple one we should all be doing more of. How many times have you gone to make a meal to see that the recipe calls for fresh coriander and your last packet has shrivelled up? Cut out the middle man – and all the plastic – by having a little herb garden of all your usuals out your kitchen window – mint, basil and coriander are really easy to start off with and if you want your own fresh summer veggies, peppers, lettuce and tomatoes are a great place to start in your own little veggie patch.
Avoid ‘sale’ culture
We’ve been caught out before and we’ll probably be caught again, which is why it’s important to flag this idea that we mistakenly think is a good way to save. Buying in the sale seems like a good idea, but you have to stop and ask yourself – would I have bought this at full price? If not, it’s not a bargain – it’s you feeling better about buying something you don’t need just because it’s cheaper. A harsh truth, but one that’s necessary to learn if you’re trying to save.
Exercise at home
We’ve all proven this year that – while gyms certainly can be motivating – we can work out just as easily at home. And wit so many amazing online workouts and tutorials from fitness experts, it’s easier than ever to find something that suits you and your preferred workouts!
Have staying in nights
Want to socialize, but don’t want to spend a bomb on dinner and drinks? Invite your friends over to yours for a BYOB BBQ! Buying a bottle of wine for €10 is cheaper than buying a bottle or drinking by the glass when you’re out and a BBQ is a simple and sociable dinner option that encourages people to bring salads or dessert with them. Keep it casual and lowkey and you can’t go wrong!
Learn to repair things
Having skills like these means that things will last you longer and you won’t have to spend money on a whole new skirt in a button comes off yours. It’s just generally a good life skill to have handy and is something everyone should learn how to do. The same thing goes for small repairs and car problems. Learning how to change a wheel, fix a leaky tap, spackle a small hole – these could save you money in the long run that would have been spent on deposits and repair men. YouTube has a tutorial for virtually anything, so there’s really no excuse these days!