I’ll make no secret about the fact that I love the finer things in life. I’m not talking about caviar for breakfast or goose-feather blankets (are those even a thing, or did I make that up), but I do enjoy a couple of city breaks each year, followed by a sun-soaked holiday and the occasional luxury purchase. However, as a student – most of these elements are slightly beyond my means and I have to be super savvy about the money I do have in order to make it stretch. Plus, as an ever conscious worrier (you only have to ask my boyfriend about the amount of times I’ve woken him up in the night willing him to discuss mortgages) I like to put away as much as I can for after I graduate, so that saving up for a deposit – isn’t quite so daunting a prospect.
Recently, I teamed up with Halifax for their Halihacks campaign, aimed at making banking extra easy to understand, taking away all the complex jargon associated with finance and demystifying the issues associated with saving, spending and borrowing through a series of short, snappy videos using (refreshingly) terms we all understand. As an issue I felt really passionately about – as I’ve recently been trying to find the best interest rates to put my savings into, but instead was bombarded with words like gross APR (decoded in this video) and compound interest (explained very helpfully in this video) – I wanted to put together a list of my tried and tested saving tips and life ‘Halihacks’ to make your money go further.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Halifax via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Halifax.
When payday comes around, it’s always tempting to splash out on a new ASOS order (trust me, I’ve been there) – popping items in your bag left, right and centre, rarely looking at the price and primarily thinking about how great that body con will look with those platforms (of which, you’re probably right). However, when the end of the month comes around and you wanted to save some money – there’s very rarely anything left to put aside. If you’re saving for something big (like a deposit or a car – or a handbag, I won’t judge) you have to be strict about saving. I put pretty much half of anything I earn into savings. My income usually comes in drips and drabs so this can mean that at some points during the month I have a mere £20 to my name – but I know I’ve got the savings to fall back on.
I split everything into three different savings accounts – one ‘main’ savings, which has a higher rate of interest but a maximum number of yearly withdrawals (otherwise the interest rate goes down), one ‘travel’ savings which I’ll dip into for a city break and a ‘other’ savings, which I use for shopping, flat deposits and house purchases. Anything left in my current account is usually minimal but I know it’s my ‘spare’ cash – which means that if I want to treat myself, I know how much I’ve got to spend. Rather than completely restricting yourself, it’s about knowing what money you’ve got spare, as usually that can be a wake-up call in itself to cut your unnecessary spendings. Having several different savings accounts with different functions means that it’s harder to simply ‘take money out’ for purchases you perhaps ‘don’t’ need, as everything appears to already serve a purpose, so you’re less likely to splurge.
- Voucher codes. A pretty self explanatory tip, but a few seconds Googling ‘ASOS voucher codes’ can often slash 20% off your order or grant you free next day delivery – if you’re already heading to the checkout. I personally am not signed up to any of the voucher codes sites, since they email you with updated offers on a weekly basis – many of which I find far too tempting. Remember, it’s not a bargain if you weren’t going to order it anyway – sorry to be a spoilsport!
- Use up what you’ve got. Again, another common sense tip – but it’s so easy to avoid! Using up fresh food items that you’ve got in the cupboard is not only good for the environment – as it saves you throwing decent food away, but it’s really good for discovering new concoctions and flavours. Sites and apps such as Supercook allow you to type in the (usually fairly random selection of) ingredients you have in your fridge, before calculating a unique recipe based entirely on what you’ve inputed. This method has resulted in some interesting dinners – quorn burger pasta anyone? – however it’s a really effective way to save money when you’ve already got some perfectly good food in front of you!
- Set a ‘date night’ for once a week. It’s unrealistic to not go out with friends, family or your partner but a more feasible way of saving and enjoying yourself is to limit your ‘blowouts’ to once a week. Whether ‘date night’ is with your best friend or your boyfriend, having it just the once means you’re more likely to enjoy it, treasure it and really make the most of treating yourself – rather than a half-hearted effort three or four times a week. If you want to socialise outside of date night, make it a ‘home’ occasion – with a budget ‘cheese and wine’ party (which can be thrown for under twenty pounds if you’re savvy with shopping) or a TV picnic (always a winner).
- ‘Make’ rather than ‘Take’. Now you might be reading these tips with a furrowed brow – ‘you’re taking away ALL the fun, PLEASE don’t take away the takeaways too’ – but I promise, you can make extra special delicious delights from your very own kitchen, which can be enjoyed in front of the television, but with far less of the guilt (calorie wise and financially). My favourite options include a wholewheat wrap pizza – essentially just a wholemeal wrap, tomato pasta sauce (Dolmio does the trick, as does Asda’s basics), a sprinkling of mozzarella and whatever toppings you fancy. Bake in the oven for ten minutes and away you go! For a something a little more ‘doughy’ try Warburtons Square Wraps as a pizza base! In fact, I’ve written a whole post on my skinny pizzas here. Similarly, a chicken and vegetable stir fry (with oyster sauce if you want more of an authentic takeaway flavour) is far more satisfying than its greasy takeaway counterpart.
- E-gym. If you’re not going to the gym more than 2-3 times a week, an expensive membership probably isn’t worth your money. Instead YouTube your favourite workouts – the ballet core workout is one of my favourites – and do it from the comfort of your own home. It does require a little more motivation than being in the gym (where you push yourself harder with others around you) but it’s free – and really rewarding too!
- Sell or Swap. With sites such as Depop taking the second-hand fashion selling market by storm, it’s never been more on-trend to make money from pre-loved items. Sift through your wardrobe at least once a month and make a pile of clothes (or a rail) you haven’t yet worn – or only worn once. If it’s still unworn within another month – think about selling it. Or, if selling isn’t your thing – you could opt to swap your clothes for a new outfit. Riffleit is a brand new site (run by a lovely friend of mine) who offer a unique ‘diamond currency’ for your pre-loved items, swapping your clothes or accessories for something new!
- Local city break. Holidaying doesn’t always have to involve stepping onto a plane – in fact, they can be just as exciting without all the added hassle of the airport! Being a tourist in your own country (or even your own city, if you don’t want to venture too far) is actually really fun – as you can use Google as your own personal tour guide (without worrying about added charges to your phone bill) and try out different local dishes. I recently took a festive break to Manchester (which you can read about here) – which with all the Christmas markets, was just as magical as going to another country!
So, there you have it – a couple of my sensible Halihacks, ideal for saving so that you can enjoy that once-in-a-lifetime trip or finally put the deposit down on your new home. They seem like minor things, but lots of tiny adjustments can really help – as a quick trip over to your online banking can confirm that the little things do add up! And, best of all – after a month of semi-strict saving over Christmas (I bought all my gifts well in advance to avoid rushing and buying things on a whim), I was able to afford a last-minute birthday break to Prague last week! I’ll ‘cheers’ to that!
Do you have any Halihacks you’d like to share? I’d love to hear your saving tips and tricks!