Published on February 21st, 2015 | by Pete0
Money-Saving 101 for Beginners
New to money-saving? Glad to meet you!
Hi to money-savers old and new. I’ve put together this guide for people who are new to the game of saving cash. So if you have any tips to add or feel I’ve missed out on a money-saving trick here or there, then by all means leave a comment. If it helps someone somewhere save money, it’s all good by me!
Your money saving style
We’re all different – this much is obvious. But it also goes for the ways we save money.
Some people, for instance, can’t abide cheap coffee. Me? As long as it contains caffeine, I’ll get by. So there’s an instant ‘saving stream’ identified for me. However, I can’t really deal with a chilly living room in the winter months, so there’s no chance of me saving on the heating bill by turning the heating down to 1.
Add up all your saving likes and dislikes, and a pattern may well emerge. Some people can live a rather Spartan life (albeit maybe for a limited period of time) while others prefer to make a slimmer saving over a longer period of time.
The watchword here is sustainability. Are you comfortable with your economising? Or will you crash through the barrier and go on a comfort splurge after a few weeks?
For me, money saving is often a bit like dieting. If you put the pedal too far to the floor, the chances are that it’ll fail. There are usually no immediate solutions, magic answers or one-size-fits-all miracle cures.
Saving money is going to require a little bit of perseverance, resilience, and creativity. But if I can do it, I’ve every faith that you can, too.
Note: this 101 is for people at the start of the money-saving journey. So if you’re looking for all the more in depth stuff about (for instance) how to get the best price for a second hand car, you will often find stuff like this and more within the websites of the gurus mentioned below.
So let’s begin…
Know your gurus
There’s a number of money saving gurus out there, and few must be the people in the UK who have never heard of the phenomenally successful Martin Lewis, a.k.a. Money Saving Expert.
This guy (to quote the Rocky films) is “a bulldozer, with a wrecking ball attached” in terms of how he can destroy money-wasting habits. In fact, if there’s just one online article that illustrates his approach, it’s this one from Yahoo Finance, entitled “how to save £1,000 in a day”. If I had to describe this guy’s money-saving style it would be “relentless”.
But there are other gurus out there too, so don’t just settle for one. Check out the work of Alvin Hall – who also has some amazing advice.
Leave no stone unturned
If there’s one thing that life has taught me, it’s this: there are always savings to be made.
This is where the fun bit comes in. (I told you money-saving was fun, right? Well it sure is!)
What to do is you make a list of every area of your life where money can be saved. And then you set about saving money. Pretty simple really. So if one of the items on your list is grocery shopping, you can have a think about what’s costing too much and target your savings. And when you make those savings – satisfaction ensues. (If you’re looking for tips on grocery savings, do a quick web search – there are loads of sites with guides. No need for me to add to them.)
Then there’s the other important stuff. If you have debt then the chances are that clearing it will be among your uppermost priorities. There are quite a few places online with information to help you find ways of managing debt, but in general the principles should be fairly straightforward (as they are laid out here). In fact, stuff like this should always be straightforward and common sense. Avoid miracle cures or anything that promises the world on a stick.
A lot of money-saving philosophy isn’t that different from investor philosophy – it’s all about common sense, value and sustainability. You’re not necessarily aiming to “buy cheapest” as this can be a false economy. What’s the point of buying the cheapest shoes on the market if they only last a week?
What you’re looking for is the optimal ratio of outlay to value for your needs. And that’s why money-saving is such a fascinating subject – offers and prices change, so making sure your buck is going as far as it can isn’t a matter of following a few set rules. Rather, it’s an art that you can perfect over time.