If you’ve managed to save money in lockdown, let us start by saying well done.
Many of us had dreams of putting away a load of cash in these last few months, given hope by the prospect of no more paying for travel to work, expensive lunches at your desk, or spending on all the grooming and fashion bits we typically invest in.
But then came all the new temptations and hurdles: online shopping became an easy crutch for dealing with the stress of a pandemic, our food bills rocketed once we couldn’t go to our usual budget-friendly options, and the money marked for travel went on a pricey new bike so we actually had a chance to leave the house.
So as we said, if you managed to save money through all of that, you deserve a massive pat on the back. But you’ll also want to make sure that the end of lockdown doesn’t spell the end of your brilliant habits.
We chatted with Andy Barr, personal finance expert and co-founder of price-tracking website Alertr, for his eight essential tips for making sure you continue to save money beyond lockdown.
1. Have nights in rather than nights out
Yes, lockdown has ensured we’ll never take the pub for granted again, but it has also showed us the power of a Zoom quiz paired with an at-home drinks selection.
Make sure you don’t rush back into multiple pub trips a week if you want to continue towards your money goals.
‘Continue to have nights in instead of constantly going out,’ says Andy. ‘You may be dying to head to the pub once restrictions are eased and the doors are opened, but instead of going out every weekend like you may have done previously, limit it to once or twice a month and enjoy more nights in with your friends, whether it is with a homemade meal or takeaway, a movie night, pamper night or even a house party. Ask everyone to bring a dish and a bottle, where you can and help spread the cost.
‘Doing these kinds of things will definitely save you, your friends and family money in the long-run and you still get to enjoy each other’s company in the process.’
2. Have an audit of your direct debits
‘Take a look at the direct debits that may have been frozen or cancelled as lockdown went into place,’ Andy advises. ‘Are there certain direct debits that you just don’t need to set back up? Did you pay a monthly gym membership that you rarely used? Did you pay for membership to attractions you didn’t attend?
‘Use this time as a change to really review what you were spending your money on.
‘If you have gone without it this long during lockdown then did you really need it in the first place?’
3. Make certain beauty treatments a treat, rather than a necessity
Again, when lockdown lifts it’ll be all too tempting to rush to the salon and beg for everything to be waxed, trimmed, and preened back to your usual standards.
But remember that you survived months without all these things. The world didn’t end because your bikini line wasn’t perfect and you had to file your own nails.
Work out which beauty treatments are most important to you, ditch the others, and reduce the frequency with which you invest in the pricier grooming trips.
4. Get creative with family time
Andy says: ‘Days out with the family can really add up in terms of cost. A trip for a family to the cinema can cost in excess of £50, as can a trip to the nearest zoo or farm park, theme park or aquarium. While these are nice treats for the family to enjoy together, continue to be creative and make the most of what you have on your doorstep.
‘Create the cinema experience in your living room or back garden, go on nature walks and cook as a family at home instead of going to a restaurant.’
5. Use price-tracking websites
Obviously Andy’s going to recommend Alertr, as he’s the co-founder, but whatever price-tracking site you prefer will make a difference to your spending.
He suggests: ‘Look up your favourite retailers online and begin tracking them across a period of time. You can even set price targets so you will only be alerted when the price has dropped to where you want it. You can also be notified when certain sales start and are being tracked to ensure you never miss out on the best buys again.’
6. Rack up your points
If you know you regularly go to certain retailers – Boots, for example – look into their points schemes and rack up as you spend.
Andy even recommends something called wombling, which involves picking up receipts left behind at the checkout, on the floor, or in trollies, and scanning them for points.
‘The previous owner may not have a points card or simply may not even want the points,’ he notes. ‘Scan them onto your own account or take them to the customer service desk and build your points up for free – this hack, called wombling, can help you save a lot of money in the long run.’
7. Get crafty
Lockdown boredom and limited stock may have given you a passion for DIY – don’t scrap that once lockdown ends.
Keep that creative upcycling mindset, buy secondhand, and enjoy the process of giving old objects a revamp, rather than buying pricey new products.
8. Invest in a bike
If you’re finding the idea of public transport amid a pandemic more than a little anxiety inducing, it’s time to invest in a bike.
We could go on and on about the benefits for your health and the environment, but as this article is about money, we’ll stick to that bit.
A bike might be a pricey investment at first (less so if you go secondhand or search around), but you’ll quickly make back that money from avoiding public transport fees or petrol.
If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.
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