The New Year is always full of promise. It's a time to make changes, a time to plan for your best year ever and set yourself goals. Whether that’s about a sleek new you or setting challenging goals with the aim of a life overhaul.
A couple of years ago I undertook the biggest change, leaving my previous career as Head of Department in a large secondary school. I swapped the classroom for the front room in a bid to get a better work/life balance for my family and decided to make blogging my new career. Ambitiously, we wanted to maintain the same lifestyle we had but in order for that life and career change to work we had to get more creative with our money and worked out where we could spend less and save more.
Many assume that being frugal or thrifty means going without; far from it. For me, it was simply about making better financial choices and using my money wiser. That’s meant that we can still have the nice things in life and hopefully have a little left over. So the recent challenge that I undertook with TSB, to make even more savings was a good refresher course for the New Year. Where else could I save more money in my everyday spend?
Direct Debits and Standing Orders
I started noting all the outgoings from my bank account and immediately found two standing orders I had forgotten about for products that I just didn't use anymore. Cancelling those alone will save me £150 per year! Secondly our eldest daughter has just turned 17 and we bought her a car. There are so many options for car insurance now including learner driver insurance. Through learner driver insurance, we can just insure her as and when she needs cover for the next few months whilst she is learning to drive. We’ll likely look to see if we can save with a multi car policy once she passes.
Another way I have saved money is by using an Added Value Bank Account. As a family we have separate breakdown cover and also travel insurance policies which as an overall cost is quite a lot. As a blogger I am sometimes invited on press trips or asked to review holidays so having an annual travel policy makes the most financial sense for our needs. Before undertaking this challenge, I was already a TSB customer and by upgrading my current account to the TSB Platinum Account* which costs just £17 a month or £204 per year, I am making savings as the Platinum account includes AXA worldwide travel, AA breakdown and mobile phone insurance. Now that we need three of us covered, breakdown cover was quoted at £189 for us alone. On top of that the annual travel insurance costs another £120 for our family of five which is without even needing to make a claim where we would have to pay an excess! So by upgrading to a packaged current account we’ve found another saving of at least £105.
Cashback sites are such an easy way to make savings on money that you are spending anyway. Simply search your retailer on the cashback site and your visit will be tracked by a cookie and your cashback – if eligible - should be credited to you at a later date. I use a couple including TopCashBack and swagbucks but there are lots of others which you can find with a quick online search. Once you get into the habit of doing your online shopping through a cashback site the savings quickly add up. In the month of November and December I managed to get £63 of cashback on my purchases. A good one is booking your holiday through a cashback site as you get a good rate of cashback in return, if it's tracked by the retailer. There are many ways that families can make money online when things are tough you just need to be committed to saving.
Clever use of discount codes and vouchers also saved me money in November and December. By using Swagbucks I was rewarded in Mastercard vouchers. I then bought vouchers from Zeek, a voucher and giftcard swapping site using the MasterCard vouchers, making more savings. It's also really easy to use online apps to save money. When eating out in the week or in the daytime there are usually great discounts on restaurant deals on sites like bookatable, opentable and toptable.
Finally I use apps like Roamler for mystery shopping. This is a referral only app which rewards me in cash when I shop. I might have to check stock available or how a product is displayed, it's really simple. When shopping I also use shopmium app which allows me to try products for free. During the challenge I was able to pick up a Lindt Reindeer and large jar of Nutella for free. You pay for the product, scan the barcode and upload a picture to the app and within a day or so my PayPal was credited with the cost of the item.
So at the end of the challenge over 2 months, I saved £105 on insurance products for my family and made £63 on cashback through online shopping. That’s a saving of £168 from only 2 small changes to my spending. I made approximately £5 from mystery shopping and post purchase cashback apps.
Using these tips and tricks I have saved myself over £173 in a month - now I challenge you to look at your outgoings and do the same.
*This is a paid blog for TSB. Emma was a blind selection for this challenge and not known to be a TSB customer before being selected. TSB has not further incentivised Emma to upgrade her account and her review is impartial.