I want to start this post by saying I am not a ‘saver’…in fact quite the opposite! Before I had Emma, I was always astounded that every penny (and then some) of my salary would be eaten up. It’s funny as it always used to shock me that even if I got a pay rise, the same 0 would appear on my bank balance, and it’s all down to my day to day habits. Sometimes I choose not to think about it, but this week I have read 7 references to the Big C. Yes, Christmas is on its way and we have so much to buy for the kids and family that I’ve been trying to do small things to save a bit of money.
During my maternity leave, I was also spectacularly good at living in the moment and not thinking about the bank balance too much. Thankfully we live pretty frugally, especially now we don’t really go out in the evenings, but now I am back at work, it’s a real chance to get on top of the finances and see where we can save some money. For me, any changes have to be small ones, as I don’t like feeling like I’m deprived all of a sudden (any plans to reduce my Lion bar intake are a no go I’m afraid!). It’s all about balance and I’ve been testing out a few things that are making quite a difference.
Getting the best travel deal
As geeky as it sounds, I did do a fair bit of research into train fares and worked out that at the moment it is better for me to get daily returns. Apparently Southern Rail are going to bring out a part time weekly season ticket, which would be amazing, but they have let me down on all other fronts, so I’ll believe it when I see it! When travelling at off peak times, you can also pre-book your ticket and get some amazing deals, though this is often not possible for commuters.
Bring Your Own Lunch
I can easily spend up to £10 a day on lunch as I am a bit of a snack fiend so lately I have been trying to recreate my favourite lunches and bring them into work. Lately I’ve been trying to get inventive and love bringing in wraps, soups and pasta concoctions too. The incentive for me is that it takes about 10 minutes to get out of the building so it’s actually a much quicker way for me to have my lunch! I do always make sure that I get a little something as a little treat in the afternoon…I’m loving a frozen yoghurt stand at the moment, which is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
Coffee On Tap
There is no way I could give up having my daily coffee as it really keeps me going during the day. I usually have my morning coffee on the way in and as it goes have been testing out coffees…the current verdict is that FCB (Flying Coffee Bean) is the best! The other day I had about 2-3 hours sleep and it felt like the cappucino was fed to me on a drip. Anyway after this, I also have a cafetiere to have a cheeky cup when I fancy, a whole pot all for me.
Late Night Dinners
This one is for my own sanity as much as anything else – there’s nothing more depressing than coming home late and having absolutely nothing to eat in the house. Until recently, we would stop off at M & S and get really quick and easy meals, but it does add up if you’re doing this all the time. So I’ve now decided to batch cook some hearty meals so we always have something we can quickly eat. Job done!
Being organised with bulk deals
Now don’t get me wrong, you won’t catch me with 400 rolls of toilet paper from Costco, but there are a few deals in the supermarkets that help from time to time. Especially with nappies, wipes and formula, I’ve managed to save a little by finding the best place to buy it from. The nappies we usually buy 3 packs for £10 from Asda and it’s great to save a little where we can! I also think that Poundland can have some great deals on household products, but equally can be cheaper than £1 elsewhere.
Remembering every little helps…
Someone once told me that with healthy eating, you should apply the 80% good and 20% a little bit naughty rule, and I try and do the same here. It would be utterly miserable to be penny pinching all day everyday, but a little bit here and there helps and it feels good to put a little bit aside for when the mass present-buying begins! We are also going on a big family holiday soon so even more little things to buy for the numerous family members that we hardly ever see. Do you try and save a little at this time of year? Let me know any tips in the comments below…