Pin Image

On Money & The Five Words That Saved Me £200

Author: Miranda Eason

Despite being the daughter of Yorkshire-born accountant I’m not very good with money. I’m good at spending money, but when it comes to giving myself a budget and sticking to it (um, budget, what budget?), organizing invoices, receipts and so on to ensure that doing my tax return is as easy as possible, heck, putting money aside to pay my tax return, and planning (financially speaking) for the future, well, I could do better.

As a freelancer it’s hard to say exactly how much I’m going to earn from month to month, but what I can control, at least to a certain degree, is what I spend my money on. I’ve decided to harness all that back-to-school new year energy I’m feeling right now and get a handle on my outgoings. Which is not to say I plan to stop spending money it’s more about looking at what I am spending and working out what’s necessary, what brings me joy and where I can cut back.

After last week’s productive weekend I’ve decided to introduce Gretchen Rubin’s Power Hour strategy – which my little sister told me about – into my life. The idea behind the Power Hour is to dedicate an hour a week – which is not very much at all when you think about it – to get on top of those nagging tasks that you never quite get around to doing but the very fact that you know you should be doing them weighs heavy on your mind and drags you down. Initially I’m going to use the Power Hour to get on top of my financial stuff.

I’m also going to get back into the habit of noting down what I spend every day as I find that when I do I spend less. When you realise you’re spending well over a tenner on breakfast, lunch and multiple coffees every week day (ok, I admit it, it’s close to £15), multiplying that by five, and then by four and subsequently realising you’re spending the best part of £300 a month in Pret/Pod/Eat/Itsu, well, making brekkie at home, cutting down on the coffee and taking a packed lunch to work more days than not starts to make a lot of sense.

One of the catalysts for my deciding to get a handle on my money was when, a couple of weeks ago, my car insurance came up for renewal. I’d switched cars part way through the insurance period from an old-style Mini to a basic Fiesta so I was kinda of surprised when the total to insure the Fiesta for the year ahead was going to be a lot more than it had been to insure the Mini, which was worth at least six times as much.

I went on several price comparison sites, receiving several quotes that were much nearer the amount I’d been paying for the last few years. Rather than switch immediately I called my insurance company and asked, “Is that your best price?” A few minutes later the lady on the other end of the phone came back with a new quote that was significantly cheaper than the original one and with just one phone call I’d saved the best part of £200.

Obviously I couldn’t help but wonder how many times in the past I’ve just accepted a quote when there was some wriggle room built in, but that way madness lies, so instead I plan to do my research ahead of merrily accepting whatever price I’m offered in the future. Alongside the aforementioned Power Hour and money diary I’m hoping that within a couple of months I’ll have gone from financial failure to, well, the opposite.

Anyone else got any good strategies for minimising outgoings, keeping on top of financial admin, getting the best deals and making savings on the essentials? Do share below!

{Contributors}
Author
Born in Yorkshire. Lives in East London. California girl at heart.

26 thoughts on “On Money & The Five Words That Saved Me £200

  1. Don’t have any money saving tips as such, but wanted to recommend the lunch box I use, which is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0088N2ZWM/ref=s9_hps_bw_g201_i2
    (They come in many different colours!)
    I get very bored having the same stuff for lunch each day and this box makes it really easy to create a varied and interesting lunch every day. Have used one of these (my original died after over five years hard work) most days and it always gets admiring glances from colleagues 🙂

    1. Loving your lunch box Caroline, I might have to invest with all the money I save on bringing in my brekkie and lunch on office days this week, plus cutting down on take out coffees!

      1. Ta! I should say I don’t know why the one is coming up as £55(!) – they are about £20 normally. Worth investigating more colour ways on Amazon (the only place I can find these in the UK).

        1. Haha, it did seem on the pricey side! I’ve definitely seen similar ones out and about, but I can’t for the life of me remember where…

  2. There was actually an article in the Sunday Times last week about how you shouldn’t just stick with the same insurer as more often than not they simply increase their premium every time. So much for loyalty eh?! Lucky you asked the question Miranda. I think the article was more about elderly people getting ripped off but it’s the same premise.
    I actually never buy expensive hot drinks and always just make my own at work and take my lunch every day. I really couldn’t afford to buy it, plus we have a dearth of healthy lunch options near my office. Things might change slightly if I worked in central London and had all those lovely places nearby. My work colleague works out her lunches for the full week and makes them all at the weekend ready for the coming week. Has saved her a fortune. I would get bored of the same thing every day I think so I bring a very small portion of the dinner that I had the night before for my lunch. Has worked out quite well so far and means it’s usually something different every day or at least only two days are the same.

    1. I know, right, you should get the best deals if you’re a repeat customer, not be ripped off! I agree Krysia, I would get bored of having the same thing every day too, but making a little extra on an evening has always worked out well in the past for me too. I’m off to a good start this week, made myself a juice at home, waited until I got to the office for a coffee, brought an avocado with me to put on toast from the canteen (only 50p!). Plus I’ve bought a tin of soup for lunch!

  3. I’ve just made the leap to work for myself too, so I need to keep some of this in mind! I manage my spending my keeping Pinterest boards – it’s like shopping but without actually buying the stuff… xx

  4. This is so true and well done with your saving! I have started taking my lunch and snacks into work, firstly as a health thing, but secondly as a money issue. I find that when I go out to buy lunch, I can so often be tempted into buying a cake/cookie/chocolate whereas if I bring something in, that is enough. Means I can just go out for a walk on my lunch break instead, and (maybe this is just me) I feel slightly smug when I’ve managed to make breakfast and lunch at home! The way I’m trying to see it is that I would find it excessive to go out for dinner every night, so the same should be said for breakfast and lunch!

    In terms of saving for household stuff, my husband is very good at switching providers – be it for car insurance/gas/electricity/TV and internet. It really ensures that we get the best deal out there.

    Also, really like Gretchin Rubin – her books and podcasts are great! 🙂

    1. Thanks Marianne! I agree, when I pop out to Pret I’ll often have one of those Pret bars which, despite containing nuts, I’m sure are not particularly healthy! Gretchen Rubin is fab isn’t she?! I loved The Happiness Project, yet to listen to her podcasts, but will be adding to my must-listen-to-list!

  5. I’m all for asking for better deals. Worked for CAB for years which gave me the confidence to push a bit.
    Just saved £20 per month on mortgage by asking for a better deal. £15 per month on my mobile.
    We regularly go they our bank statements to work out what goes on bills and how much ‘should’ be left over… After checking bank statements we’ve found m&s food hall does well out of us! But it gives us a clear picture of where our money goes and how to cut back.
    Our best money making / saving has been installing solar panels.
    We pay £10 on electric now and average about £100 per month back from government.
    Couldn’t recommend them more!!

    1. When it comes to getting the best deals it certainly seems that if you don’t ask you don’t get really does apply. Haha, I’m sure the M&S food hall does pretty well out of me too! Great idea to regularly go through bank statements, totally stealing that Alice, and, wow, what an amazing saving from having solar panels. Seriously tempted…

  6. Every pay day I sit down and go over my exact outgoings and check my diary to see what I am doing socially and set a budget. It’s so easy to think you are just going for one cocktail with a friend but you know you always end up having three or four…. and then pay for a taxi etc. I find if I know exactly what will be happening over the month it is easier to say no to spending money eg. can I really afford to buy that new dress if I’m having my hair done the next week?!

    After being careful most of the time I love the feeling of having an occasional splurge. A girl needs to treat herself sometimes.

    1. This is a great strategy Claire, I know already that I have at least three big birthday celebrations to go to in September so I’ll have to think carefully about what else I buy all month. You’re right though, budget allowing it’s great to have the odd splurge!

  7. I take my lunch to work every day, and always do a quick run through of all the comparison sites before we go with our insurance (when we were renting our contents insurance was consistently lowest with one insurer, so we stayed with them – but their renewal quote was always about a fiver more than their quote on the comparison sites – I could have technically left and rejoined them and saved money! Luckily they always honoured the web quote if you rang, but why should you have to ring to make a big deal over a few pounds?!). However what I do that gives me a good idea of where our money is going is export our joint account statement as a .csv file, and then play around colour coding categories of spending (e.g. bills, entertainment, food shopping… etc.) and adding it all up… yes this is incredibly geeky but it shows how much we spend on food (for example) compared to what we think we’re spending. It’s also good if, like my boyfriend, you have to pay for things with work and then claim back as expenses, as he always seems to forget a tenner here and there and it does add up! (P.S. My dad is also a Yorkshireman and an accountant… I learnt from the best!)

    1. Katie, I LOVE that you colour code you finances. We’ve just started doing this.
      James and I have set ourselves a rather hefty savings target for the end of the year and we’re giving each other a weekly allowance for ‘fun activities’. We’ve already had a bit of healthy competition on who can spend the least (yet still go out, obvs). It’s really helping with getting our leisure spending under control.

      1. I’m with Lauren, love that you colour code your finances Katie. Colour coding and nice stationery definitely make the thought of getting on top of my finances much more appealing!

  8. I’ve been using You Need A Budget for about the last 16 months and it has revolutionised my finances. I now feel in control, rather than the other way around, and it’s given me the confidence to leave full time employment in search of more fulfilling work. It’s free for a month, then it’s a one-off cost to buy the software, but worth every penny. It takes a little while to get your head around the methodology but, once you do, it’s a game-changer!

  9. I spent almost an hour haggling over my phone upgrade last week and it totally paid off. Got a galaxy s3 for £26.25 per month with no upfront cost. Not bad when it started at £50 upfront and £35 per month! I find it much easier over the phone than in person.

    1. Wow, that was totally worth an hour on the phone Kathryn! Am looking to switch from a Pay As You Go phone to a contract but the contract for the phone I want with my current provider would cost a lot more a month, will definitely be using the “Is that your best price?” line!

  10. Ooh going to have a look at You Need A Budget – I’ve just been saying to my husband we need to start budgeting and saving properly. Until then…where is that purse from? I need it in my life! x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *