Back to Basics

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I’ve been thinking about when I first started saving money back in 2010. I realised that maybe some of my money saving techniques – like bulk buying, cashback apps, Groupon deals and printing coupons – won’t work for everyone so I want to take it back to basics…

Let’s started where I did: assessing spending habits. After all, it is impossible to cut back if you don’t know what you’re spending. I remember sitting down one afternoon and just looking at my finances, I felt so much better after doing it and I encourage you to do the same.

It seems daft but assessing your out-goings and thinking about your spending habits will give you much more control over your money. I used to spend everything I had in my bank account yet had little to show for it. When I thought about it I had no idea what I’d actually spent my money on.

When I looked at my spending I quickly realised it was a lot of little purchases that were totting up to excessive spending. It was things like takeaway coffees, candles and bath bombs; things that I enjoyed at the time but probably weren’t worth the money. Especially when I was trying to pay off my debts and increase my savings. Cutting out those little spending habit left me better off and able to put more towards my debt free and savings goals.

I worked out my monthly budget and changed my approach to spending. I started to consider my purchases and I’d ask myself, do I really want to spend two hours worth of wages on a takeaway pizza? Do I want to spend a days earnings on a set of false nails? If the answer was no, I cut it out of my budget.

After that I started to introduce all my other thrifty ways which you can read about in my post Thrifty Clair’s Top Tips and Tricks. But before you read that, I encourage you to assess your own spending. Do it today, make a brew, load up your online banking and sit down with a pen and paper ready to tackle your spending habits.

It isn’t as scary as it sounds and I promise you’ll feel a lot better having done it because you’ll have a better idea where you can cut back, you’ll have a greater understanding of where your hard earned money is going and you’ll feel more in control.

If you’re still thinking it might be a bit too much effort, you could use my Printable Spending Assessment Sheet to help create your lists. It also has ideas on how to change your spending habits. Below is a step by step guide on how to assess your spending and it doesn’t matter whether you use my printable sheet or just do your own on paper.

Happy Budgeting,

Thrifty Clair x

1 – Start with essentials like rent/mortgage payments, bills, direct debits etc. Jot down the amount and what it’s for to start to build a clear picture of your out-goings.

2 – Then make a list of much you spend on food, toiletries and household items. This might be a little trickier to do, especially if you spend £10 and £20 there but this is the exact kind of spending you want to highlight. It’ll help you to see where you might be overspending.

3 – Check through your statements to see what other spending habits you have. Make third list of things like takeaways, little trips to the shop, meals out, trips to the cinema and any other random or unnecessary little purchases.

4 – Add up the amount for the essentials list, then deduct that amount away from your monthly income. The amount you’re left with can now be used to budget for the rest of your spending and saving.

5 – Look at your household list and find where you can cut back. It might be stopping trips to the corner shop, making a meal plan or only taking a set amount of cash to the shops with you so you can’t impulse buy.

6 – Now it’s time to adopt a thrifty mindset and tackle the non-essential spending. Of course you still need to have a social life and little treat but the trick is to be creative and make your social life work within your budget. Nights in, free events, DIY facials rather than expensive salon ones are just a few things you can do.

7 – Once you’ve adjusted to your new way of spending hopefully you’ll have some money left at the end of each month. Don’t be tempted to blow it on a new outfit or night out as a reward for your sensible spending. Instead, buy yourself a little treat (a bargain face mask or a bottle of wine) and put the rest towards a debt or into a savings account.

You can take charge of your finances and I hope this has inspired you to take the first step. X

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