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Mouthy blogger Shoestring Jane looks at quick and easy ways to save some extra cash.
Most of us have periods when there isn’t enough money to last the month. Perhaps you have had a lot of birthdays, a car breakdown or a dip in income for some reason.
Sometimes you need to cut back on your spending urgently. In this post I am offering you six easy ways to save money fast.
1. See what you can cut out
I always think it is surprising how many people appear to go through their lives with very little idea about where their money goes. Being aware of your spending is key to living within your means.
When you are looking for ways to save money fast, the place to start is your bank statement. Look at the past three months and work out how much you have spent on food, bills, entertainment, travel, clothing, etc.
You might even find direct debits for things you have forgotten about. For example, when I first did this exercise, I discovered that I was paying for an insurance policy on a fridge that I no longer owned! Embarrassing, but I am sure I am not alone.
Once you have a picture of where the money disappears to, you can consider what you can cut back on. Do you have a barely used gym membership? Could you reduce your TV and broadband package? Do you spend ridiculous amounts on lunches out and takeaway coffees?
How ruthless you are depends on your individual circumstances. But reducing unnecessary expenditure is the most basic way to save money fast.
2. Reduce your monthly bills
It may seem a faff, but checking comparison sites for all of your bills as they come up for renewal can save you hundreds of pounds a year.
This only takes a couple of minutes. In the last few months I have saved over £500 on car insurance and breakdown cover as well as household insurance.
3. Stop buying food and drink out
When you need to save money fast, you can often save a lot by taking food and drink with you when you go out.
If you don’t get free tea and coffee at work, keep a stash in your desk drawer and make your own rather than using the machine or hitting the coffee shop.
Pack your lunch the night before. Leftovers are great reheated in the office microwave.
When you take the family for a day out, pack a picnic and plenty of drinks. Give the kids a small amount to buy an ice cream or take some treats with you.
4. Put aside your inner food snob
Are you a snob when it comes to food? When you need to save money fast it is worth exploring the supermarket own-labels.
You are likely to be pleasantly surprised at the taste and quality of supermarket own brands, even the value ones. Try a few with an open mind and stick to those you like.
Don’t tell your family what you are doing and see if they notice. If they are also brand snobs, try decanting things like cereal into Tupperware.
Without the fancy packaging and marketing messages, you will find they don’t know Kellogg’s Coco Pops from Tesco Choco Snaps!
5. Meal plan
Still on the subject of groceries, if you want to save money fast it’s important not to buy more food than you will actually eat.
Ten minutes spent planning your dinner for each day of the coming week, then writing a shopping list based on that, will mean you will always have the key ingredients in your cupboards.
Even if you don’t cook everything from scratch, meal planning will prevent food going to waste and help curb the temptation to get a takeaway when you are uninspired by the contents of the larder.
Always look at what you already have before writing your meal plan so you can be sure to use perishables before they are past their best.
6. Find free events
Saving money doesn’t mean you should stay home and become a hermit. Everybody needs the opportunity to get out, see new sights and socialise from time to time.
Shoestring Jane is a full-time self-employed mum of three daughters. Her frugal partner in crime is handyman extraordinaire, Mr Shoestring. They are constantly on the look out for ways to save and make extra money. Read more on her blog, Shoestring Cottage.