We don’t know about you, but we know all too well what it’s like living pay-check-to-pay-check, always skint at the end of the month, and not really being able to save.
In the last few years, we researched ways to optimise our money as a couple, so that we could save for really important things like holidays, renovations, and saving for a house.
From that point on we doubled down on money optimisation techniques that would improve our outgoings and ultimately make our lives far more enjoyable. Here are just a few money saving tips we’ve learnt, we hope you find them useful!
1. Batch cook your meals
This is a great one for the autumn or winter. If you're anything like us then we love to have a big hearty meal when the weather is a bit dreary outside. However it comes with the cost of loads of time, money and energy (electricity or gas + effort!). Also, there's nothing worse than staring at a huge pile of washing up every night following the effort of making it all. We started batch cooking years ago and it's a great way of condensing all of that cost into a one-off activity. Cook far more than what you need and freeze the rest in plastic containers.
Meals we often batch cook are chilli con carne, bolognese, curry, stews… there's nothing better than coming home, simply whacking something in the microwave and having a meal ready. You save on washing up, limit food wastage, you get lots of time back that you would otherwise spend in front of the cooker so you’re left to do something valuable with your evening, be it leisure or work (if you're self employed).
It's a win-win-win-win!
2. Buy food in bulk
I don't think we get as many opportunities as our friends over the other side of the pond being able to buy wholesale very readily, but in the UK there's still a few ways to make some savings if you look closely.
Items we’ve bought in bulk include toilet rolls from Amazon which if you have loft or other storage space is easy to store, also supermarkets have huge bags of rice which are a great way to save money. It also means you are very rarely left running down to the corner shop with a look of fear in your eyes! If you have a dishwasher, Amazon also do cheaper dishwasher tablets than supermarkets so it’s well worth shopping around.
3. Itemise your finances on a spreadsheet tracker
Some time ago we created a spreadsheet that would become the way that we managed our money in the lead up to buying our first place, a small flat in Hove and it’s been the reason why we’ve been able to save for anything major.
Saving up for a deposit for your first place takes a bit of determination and a few sacrifices also, but going about it in a logical and documented way really helped. We now use this spreadsheet to manage our finances years on.
What the spreadsheet tracks:
Mortgage payments, bills, and other outgoings
A savings planner
Accumulative savings data, to inform us how much is in our savings account at a particular month
The spreadsheet really helps us save for big purchases.
Following this process as a couple has allowed us to…
1. Be 100% open and honest with each other about where every single penny we earn goes each month and document it.
2. Adjust our individual expenses so that we save more towards our goals.
3. Give ourselves a budget to enjoy the simple things in life without worrying we’re overspending (going out for drinks, takeaways etc).
4. Commit to saving every month, towards things we both really want in life.
We are so pleased with our spreadsheet that we are now selling it for a small cost, so if you're interested in controlling your finances like us then please check it out!
A simple tool to help you save money and plan for the future
4. Checking the weight per £
This is a tip for when you're in the supermarket and you're trying to choose between two branded products (Aldi shoppers won’t have this issue because they only have one option for everything! We love Aldi) Try and compare the kg/£ price. Supermarkets do a little trick quite often to stop you comparing by putting 100g/£ instead but that's fine because with a simple bit of maths you can convert it into the kg/£ price. Going for the lowest cost per weight can save loads because it enables you to easily compare the costs of buying in different sizes. The pennies all add up.
5. Keen gardeners, make sure you’re composting and collecting water
If you're keen gardeners like us, when spring time comes around, the garden starts to become expensive, amongst everything else lots of water and lots of compost. When we moved in we were lucky enough that the garden already had a water butt, so all that was required was to buy a composter. You might be able to buy a composter quite cheaply as they are sometimes subsidised by our council, you can check their website getcomposting.com to see if you can get one for a quarter of the price like we did. Now we get free water for watering plants and free compost just by chucking our grass, food and cardboard away. This is a great way to save resources, to be kind to the environment and to save money.
6. Grow your own herbs
The savings for growing your own food are a bit questionable to be honest, but we think that there are ways that you can make it worth your while, for example by growing things that you are going to need all of the time but that are fairly costly. Examples of good food to grow are herbs, (especially perennials) , tomatoes, green beans, mange tout, chillies. Not only does homegrown food taste way nicer, this is a great way to reduce your food and packaging waste. Plus, it’s something Neil has found great for wellbeing. We while away hours in the garden.
Thank you for reading this post!
If you’d like more savings tips, we’ve also shared a post called “The 10 commandments to save for a house deposit” which is jam packed with saving ideas regardless of whether you’re saving for a deposit or not.
Neil + Fi xoxo