The pandemic may have allowed some people to save more money than usual, whether it be missing out on expensive holidays or pocketing money that would usually be spent on commuting to work.
But as lockdown restrictions ease, the temptation to spend could return. Here, Sally Conway, Head of Consumer Communications at Shawbrook Bank, offers five tips on how to keep up the positive money saving behaviours as lockdown lifts.
Time to budget
Budgeting is one of the most effective ways to manage your spending. Not only does it prompt you to review your spending habits, but it also helps you understand where small savings could be made.
As restrictions ease, take control by setting a monthly spending limit. But, make sure you set yourself realistic goals, so you don’t end up breaking the budget entirely.
Taking the time to assess your current financial situation and considering your priorities for the rest of the year is a great way to get started. It’s also important to remember that each month can come with different financial priorities. Often the same budget won’t work for every month and there may be unexpected expenses you might not have considered.
If you’re unsure how to make a budget work for you, there are a range of tools and apps that can help. Money Advice Service offers a free budget planner too.
Manage your social calendar
It can be easy to say yes to every plan, especially now restrictions are easing, but adopting a different approach can be a good way to cut back on your spending.
When we’re tied into social plans, it can be difficult to consider how much we’re spending. Access to shops, pubs and UK staycations are a welcomed change but will come at an added cost. Even the small things here and there can add up over time.
This is where budgeting can be really useful. By setting aside a budget for social plans, you can better manage your personal finances. If you do end up spending more than expected, you can look to cut costs elsewhere
You can also manage your time. By prioritising the things you enjoy the most or by suggesting less expensive ideas, you can spend less without missing out.
Consider what you could live without
When we first went into lockdown people may have only intended to cancel unnecessary subscriptions in the short term, but some might decide to carry this on once life returns to ‘normal’.
Whether it’s discovering the abundance of online workout classes rather than that monthly gym membership, or unearthing a love of cycling that could be a way of cutting commuting costs, keeping changes like this in place could make a big difference to your future savings.
Equally, review new entertainment subscriptions you’ve signed up to in lockdown. You might find that now you have the option to go out with friends or go back to the gym, you don’t need half the things you signed up for when you were stuck indoors.
Search for deals and offers
Never purchase something without looking around first. There’s plenty of websites and online deals to choose from that can help reduce your daily spending – you just need to know where to look.
Websites like Money Saving Expert have a page dedicated to the current discount codes and offers available for everything from food and fashion to home products.
When shopping online, websites like Quidco and TopCashBack also offer cash back on a wide range of retailers. It’s free to sign up and you can get the money paid directly into your bank account or in vouchers once you reach a certain amount.
Not only are there websites dedicated to helping you pocket some extra pennies, but there are also extensions you can add to your browser like Honey or Pouch that automatically search for discount codes when you’re on selected sites.
Use the three-day rule
With a limited array of things to do in lockdown, succumbing to the effects of boredom and splurging on impulse buys became a bad habit for many of us.
Try to think carefully before making any purchases - especially if it’s expensive. This is where the three-day rule can come in handy. If you see something you really want, step back and save the purchase for three days. Make sure you take time to consider your budget before you purchase. If you can afford it and you are still hankering after the product three days later then it is more likely to be something you really need and will value over the long-term.
Talking to family and friends about the purchase can help too, and help you understand if it is an impulse buy or an essential purchase.
Impulse buying often follows a pattern. For example, if you find that you are always searching on your favourite site on a Sunday evening to ease Monday blues and often end up buying a new item, then try and recognise this and stop yourself from succumbing to the habit by removing the temptation.
Whatever plans you have made over the coming weeks and months as lockdown eases, we definitely all deserve to have some fun but remember to stay safe and stick to government guidelines on current restrictions and social distancing measures.