I am nearly at the end of a long journey of saving to buy my first house with my partner Shane! I’ve always loved a good bargain but I’ve stepped up by game to be able to save for a deposit on a house. Here’s a few of the things I do to help save money.
Both Shane and I used to buy our lunches at work. I’d usually spend a couple of quid a day and Shane would spend anything up to £5 a day. We quickly realised this was a complete waste of money. I’ve now started cooking a bit extra when making our evening meal, when I’m dishing it up I put a potion each in pot ready for work the next day.
If I’m cooking something that wouldn’t be ideal for reheating the next day, I just make something extra for lunch like pasta salad which is quick and easy to do. We have easily saved over £100 a month doing this so the extra effort in the evenings has paid off.
Cooking from Scratch
If you’re not a good cook don’t let that put you off, making basic things like homemade pasta sauces can be a great money saver. I also try to use up as much of the food I already have in the cupboard, fridge and freezer before I do a big shop. I used to just nip to Tesco Express and get something in but now do a quick Google search of the ingredients I have in.
Cooking this way often results in a tasty meal and means we try new dishes rather than eating the same old things. I often add some fresh or frozen veg to a meal to bulk it up, this keeps costs down, makes the meal more filling and makes it healthier than a processed or ready-made alternative.
I used to be a die-hard Tesco shopper but I’ve noticed a lot of products have disappeared from the shelves and the prices are rising. They have also changed the Clubcard deals so the points won’t be worth as much in the future. As a result I’ve started to see what else is on offer and I’m slowly becoming a Lidl convert.
Not only is it cheaper but I can get my shopping done in half the time and there’s not as many products to tempt me to spend more. If you still shop at a big supermarket you could try downgrading some of your items. For example, rather than buying branded baked beans, downgrade to the supermarket own or if you buy supermarket own try the value range.
I absolutely love using my cashback apps to get lots of savings on food, drink and household items. I often get free or heavily discounted items through my apps; I’ve saved £88 using Shopmium and £305 using Checkoutsmart. I’ve recently started using another app called Green Jinn so hope to make even more savings. If you want to learn more have a read of my post all about cashback apps!
Impulse Buying Ban
I would often nip to the shops on my way home from work and would think nothing of picking up a big bag of crisps, a chocolate bar, a face mask and a bottle of wine. Sometimes I’d treat myself to some new pjs and a lush bath bomb because it was Friday.
I’ve put a complete stop to that and instead I drive straight home so there’s no temptation. The first month I did this I saved around £80! All the £5 here and £8 there totted up to more than I realised! I couldn’t believe that I’d been spending so much on stuff that I didn’t actually need.
Cutting back on Meals Out and Takeaways
Shane and I used to go out for tea near enough every Thursday and a couple of times a month on a Sunday. That’s been knocked on the head for the time being, we couldn’t justify spending £50 for Sunday dinner and a couple of drinks when we can have the same at home for a fraction of the price.
Instead of a takeaway once or even twice a week we have stuck to making our own at home equivalents. If I get to the end of a long week and don’t fancy cooking we treat ourselves to a supermarket £10 meal deal that includes a main, side dish, dessert and a bottle of wine. Our favourites are the Tesco or M&S deals, especially the ones that include steak!
By this point you’re probably thinking I am crazy and that I don’t do anything to treat myself. Don’t worry, that’s not the case at all! In the last six months I’ve had meals out, nights out, had a pamper day including a massage and facial, I’ve had new make up, clothes, shoes, perfume and lots of other treats too. I just do it all in my own thrifty way using Groupon, discount codes, freebies, cashback apps, vouchers, coupons and so on.
I doubt I’d cope if I didn’t treat myself and it’s great that I can do it on a guilt free budget. This is one thing to remember if you’re saving, you still have to do things that you enjoy, you have to treat yourself otherwise you’ll start to resent saving. You can have a look at all of my treats on my Instagram page.
The one thing I also can’t cut back on is Christmas and Birthdays! When it comes to gifts I make sure I’m prepared, throughout the year I pick up bits and pieces I know people will like and then store them away in my spare room. I’ve already started gathering together things for Christmas 2018! When a friend or family members birthday comes round I don’t have to worry about spending on gifts, instead I can focus on paying for a night or meal out as the gift is already taken care of.
If something I use regularly is on a good offer, I stock up. I’ve got a nice little stock pile in my spare room full of hair dye, hand wash, surface cleaner and toothpaste. I’ve not bought toothpaste since June last year thanks to the amazing deal I got. I used a deal on Checkoutsmart and ClickSnap and managed to get 24 tubes of Colgate Expert White for just £12 instead of £60.
I once got 12 bottles of hand wash for £10.56 that had an offer that allowed me to claim 8 free cinema tickets! Then there was the time I got 36 bags of Metcalfes popcorn for the price of one bag by using cashback and brand guarantee deals. I was able to take a group of friends to the cinema with a large popcorn each for just a few pence!
If you can stock up items when they are cheap or on special deals it’ll save you money and time in the long run. It also means you don’t run out and have to nip to the local shop and pay an extortionate amount for the same item.
Help to Buy ISA
Both Shane and I have been saving in our own Help to Buy ISA accounts for nearly two years now. All the money saved in those accounts is for the a 10% deposit on a house. I’m sure you heard of these accounts by now and the lifetime ISAs that also came out recently.
Both accounts are eligible for a 25% government bonus for first time buyers. This is helping us to stretch our budget and maximise our savings. This bonus can’t be used on any the additional costs of buying a house like solicitors fees, surveys and moving costs, so we also have an additional savings account that we put money into to cover those expenses.
I think most people focus on the deposit and forget about the additional costs of buying, having the Help to Buy ISA and another savings account helps us keep track of everything.
Why do it?
I think it is safe to say doing all of this has not been easy; I’ve missed going out for a nice meal every week, getting my nails done and just general treating myself. I know it will all be worth it once we are able to stop wasting money on rent and actually be able to invest our money into our own property.
We have rented since 2010 as we couldn’t really live with parents due to location and space; it works out that we have spent around £45,000-£50,000 on rent in that time. It’s so frustrating knowing that the only thing that has held us back was a lack of deposit. Now that we are so close to buying our own home it makes me proud that over those years we have been able to pay rent, pay off debts and save.
I hope I’ve inspired you to make changes to start saving more. Let me know in the comments below or tell me what you’re doing to cut costs as I’m always looking at new ways to save.
Thrifty Clair x