Skint Dad

Seven tips for a money diet in 2017

2017 is here and as the saying goes, there's no time like the present...to save some money! Skint Dad is here to give you his top seven tips to help craft your 2017 money diet.

It's the New Year which means many people will be setting resolutions to help better themselves in some way. Some opt for losing a bit of weight through exercise or dieting, and others look to get their bank balance in order. Well, how about mixing the two and going on a money diet this year?

A money diet isn’t just looking at one part of your spending or finances; it’s making sure you pull in the purse strings to limit the amount of spending you do.

While it may be boring to cut things out altogether, this will also give some suggestions on how you can keep doing your favourite things while saving money.

Use more money off vouchers and cashback

We all want to save and cut back but everyone needs to go shopping occasionally! Being a savvy shopper you don’t need to pay full price – ever if you can help it!

Like that top? Why not buy it online instead for cheaper using a voucher code? Or why not link your debit card to a cashback site and earn money back in store.

Even if you want to buy groceries or cleaning products online or in store, there are loads of vouchers and coupons to save money at the supermarket – you just need to know where to find them.

Certain bank accounts offer cashback on some purchases, but you might need to opt into the offers. Regularly check your bank (or switch to a better one) and make sure you’re getting all the benefits.

Use loyalty schemes - properly

Millions of people have at least one loyalty card (and most of us have three!), but we don’t always use them to their full potential.

This year, make sure you take full advantage of these free reward cards by claiming back as much as possible on them.

Keep all your loyalty cards on you when you’re out shopping (and say yes when you’re offered one if you shop at the store regularly). Also, add the details of your card to your online account if you prefer to shop online.

Collecting is easy – but spending can be more fun when it’s free money! There are over £6 billion unspent loyalty card points in the UK!! That is far too much money that we’ve been earning going to waste.

Make sure you look to spend your loyalty card points too, with either a treat (as you’ve been saving money so well on the money diet) or perhaps starting your Christmas shopping early.

Get better deals

Allowing anything you pay for to continue each and every month is a big no-no in this money diet.

Whatever you have be it car insurance, home insurance, bank account, credit cards, utility bills, broadband, satellite/cable TV – it’s time to compare and switch.

When it comes to renewal, or your current deal has come to an end, use a comparison site to see what other options are out there for you.

For things like TV it may be better for you to just ditch it altogether! There are so many options out there that normal TV just isn’t needed. All your favourite shows can be watched for free on catch up services, and box sets and movies can be watched on other subscription services like Amazon Prime, NOW TV or Netflix. On the plus side, you are only paying monthly, so if you decide you don’t want it anymore, it doesn’t take long to cancel.

Remember, cheaper isn’t always better, especially for things like insurance. So remember to check that what you’re signing up to has everything you really need, otherwise your new “deal” may be worthless.

Cut out takeouts

A takeaway can be a real treat over the weekend, after a hard week’s work, but they do put a dent in your budget. The same for takeout coffee and convenience food.

Instead of ditching your treats altogether, look to take on cheaper alternatives. While being tempted to reach for the phone to call for a Chinese or Indian make a fakeaway from scratch instead. With a few store cupboard ingredients and maybe a pop to the shops, you can recreate your favourite dishes at home for a fraction of the price.

If you love a coffee to get you started each day then you could be throwing away around £60 a month on caffeine. On sale for about the same price, you can buy your own espresso machine and make your own strong coffee, then froth your milk in the morning. In a month the machine would have paid for itself and you’ll save yourself £60 a month for the rest of the year!

Create a budget

How much money are you actually spending out week to week? If you don’t know what you’ve got coming in or where it’s all going to, now is the time to write your budget down. When you’ve then got your budget, you can use it to make sure you’re not overspending each month and to see if you have any wiggle room to snip your spending.

Grab your bank statements, pay slips and any receipts and get to making your list. Now you need to work out your expenditure which can be a little trickier. Add in your bills, like rent/mortgage, council tax, all utilities, TV licence, phone, broadband and TV, and insurances. Next add in ad hoc payments that are different week to week; so your food shopping, kids clubs, the cash you withdraw, or debt repayments. You really need to ensure every penny is accounted for.

Once you’ve got your totals take away the outgoings from your income and you should hopefully be left with a positive number. If you’ve got a negative number, you are overspending and need to look to cut back immediately.

When you have your budget set, you then need to stick to it. Try to make sure that your new budget has some allowances to save for a rainy day, as getting a bit of money put aside is always great to call on in an emergency.

Save on heating

You can cut back on the cost of your gas and electricity by making a few small changes around the home. Over time, these changes may see hundreds come off your annual bill so it’s well worth doing.

Simple things like turning off plugs, instead of leaving them on overnight, can save you loads of money over the year. It’s not like you need to keep your TV, kettle or microwave on at all times and by keeping them off, you won’t be paying to keep the clock on, or the red light on.

There are so many things to do to save money on heating costs, you just need to make them second nature. Turn off lights when you leave a room, boil a kettle for hot water instead of heating it on the stove (a kettle costs less to use to heat the same water a cooker would) and turn your thermostat down just one degree.

A few changes here and there won’t cost you anything but will save you money.

Save at the supermarket

While you know how much your mortgage or rent will be month to month, your food shop can change depending on what’s on offer, what the supermarkets have decided to change the prices to and how much you’ve got left in the cupboards from the week before!

Whether it’s about making a meal plan before you head out, sticking to a list while you’re shopping or branding down to stretch your spend even further there are so many tips to bring down the cost of your grocery shop.

If you’re looking for a particular tip or you want to learn from others, join the Reduce Your Supermarket Spend Facebook community. You’ll get to learn all about why taking photos of receipts is well worth doing – and will earn you money while shopping!

Here’s hoping your money diet will work well for you and you’ll be gaining £s, instead of losing them.