The current financial climate of rising inflation and stagnating wages means that the average Briton needs to optimize their money spending in order to save money. Domestic essentials such as food, personal hygiene toiletries, cleaning detergents and household bills can easily rack up a considerable part of your monthly costs.
Most of us are victims to habit. We do our weekly shop at the same store, on the same day, at the same time, buying the same stuff. However, rethinking your strategy on purchasing your most-used goods can save you a lot of money in the long run.
So how can you get focused and start saving your hard-earned pounds?
It’s no secret that the retail industry is built on enticing customers to make impulse purchases, and it can be difficult to escape the marketing avalanches especially around celebration seasons such as Christmas or Easter. Therefore, saving money must begin before you get to the shop.
When you know what you need, you are less likely to lose focus. Start by identifying your most commonly used products. Simply looking over your receipts for the last four weeks can tell you a lot about your shopping habits. Some products will last you longer than others, for example you may need to buy eggs on a weekly basis, but you may only need to purchase shampoo every couple of months. Knowing your usage of a certain product may help you predict your demand in the future. You may also notice that most products can be easily substituted, for instance branded condiments can be substituted for the supermarket’s own brand which may often be cheaper.
Before you set off to the shop, you should take a look at your current supplies and make a list of what products you need to stock up on. Some people may go the further mile and make a weekly meal plan, so they only buy the products necessary for preparing what’s on the menu. Moreover, making a shopping list before setting off will help you remain focused and reduce impulse spending.
The most popular household stores in the UK, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrison’s and Aldi, all compete for your cash. Depending on where you live, you may have more than one of the big names in close proximity. Sainsbury’s might have higher prices than Asda or Aldi, however their weekly promotions can often be a good bargain, so it is worth checking the closest stores to you for the best prices.
Most of the large shops now have a free points-based loyalty card for their regular customers. Becoming a member often gives you access to promotional offers and coupons as well as building up a points-based spending reserve for every purchase. If you are a frequent shopper, becoming a member will help you make the most of shopping to save.
Vouchers and coupons have become a popular way to save money in recent years. They are available everywhere, you may get them through a store membership, after purchasing from the store or through websites such as The Money Saving Expert or VoucherCodes which offer coupon deals on a range of brands and products.
Fancy marketing can often make a product more desirable to its cheaper alternative with little to no difference in the quality of the product. In most shops, you will find stock from big name manufacturers and the store’s own produce right next to it. Buying the store’s own branded goods will save a lot of pennies long-term. Something as simple as switching your bin bags from a premium brand to a store brand can make all the difference.
Generally speaking, the bigger the quantity, the cheaper the price per unit. Therefore, making use of two-for-one or similar offers can be a good idea depending on the product. Long-lasting products are usually better suited to these types of deals. For example, buy one get one free tooth paste will make perfect sense as it is an essential item that you are bound to use and you are saving money on your next purchase, on the other hand buy one get 50% off bread may not be sensible unless you plan on eating it in the next few days. It is important to note the expiry dates of reduced-price products and evaluate whether you will be able to make use of it before then.
Every year there is a mass wave of seasonal discount events like Black Friday, and the Boxing Day, Christmas and Easter sales where you can get big reductions that can come close to 70% off. Making use of these discounts can take some planning ahead to avoid unnecessary impulse shopping sprees. If you don’t need to make a purchase urgently, you can research the exact product you would like to buy and wait to see if it comes on sale. Where possible you can have several options for a similar item as this increases your chances of getting value for money.
Furthermore, if you wait until the holidays have passed you can make use of clearance discounts and stock up for next year. This strategy is particularly effective for the post-Christmas period when household essentials such as electrical appliances, furniture and home improvement deals are at their peak.
When it comes to your utility bill providers, being a loyal customer often doesn’t do you any favours. If your contract is nearing its end, it is worth shopping around to see what other providers have on offer as new customer deals can be very attractive. Don’t be afraid to switch providers if it reduces your monthly spend. Rethink all your regular monthly expenses to see where you can cut back, including your water, gas, electricity and media bills.
The bottom line is that there is no need to spend money unnecessarily! Becoming penny-wise isn’t difficult, but you will need to make an effort to adjust your spending habits.