It’s time to stop saying “New Year, New Me”. Instead, let’s say “New Year, New Approach” because no matter what your goals or resolutions are this year, you don’t need a new you to achieve them!
I know there will be lots of you out there who are planning to take control of your finances to start saving more in 2021. In this blog post I’ll run through tips to help you find new approaches for day to day spending and saving. There are links to other posts which might help too.
Old way of thinking: I’m going to save thousands this year.
New approach: I’m going to save little and often wherever I can.
It’s great to have a savings goal but you don’t need to pile on the pressure. Remember, there’s a reason the saying “look after the pennies and the pounds take care of themselves”. Those small changes and savings really do add up. You can read some tips on small savings here.
Old way of thinking: I’ll put whatever money I have left at the end of the month into my savings.
New approach: I’ll put money into my savings on pay day and work out a budget for the rest of the month.
This approach can be applied to paying of debts too. Get your money sorted on payday so you know what money you have to play with. I even fill up my car with fuel on payday so I don’t leave myself short. Don’t be put off by the word budget either, it doesn’t mean going without, it is just planning how you spending your money.
Old way of thinking: It’s going to take ages to reach my saving target.
New approach: I am on track to achieve my savings target.
Focus on what you have achieved rather than being hard on yourself. For example, if your savings target is £5000 and you’re saving £150 a month to achieve it you can look at it two ways. 1) You’ve saved £150 this month but you’re still thousands away from your £5000 goal or 2) You hit your monthly savings goal of £150 a month. Always pick the one that sounds more positive.
Food shopping on a budget…
Old way of thinking: I need to do a weekly food shop to make sure we always have full cupboards.
New approach: I’ll make an inventory of what food we have and just stock up on the few bits when we need them.
Just because you usually go shopping weekly or fortnightly doesn’t mean you actually need to. I used to go every fortnight and would buy the same things every time whether I needed them or not which is exactly why I still have two and a half boxes of lasagna sheets in my cupboard! Now, I use my inventory list to meal plan using ingredients already in the cupboard.
Old way of thinking: I only do my big shop at Aldi because it is the cheapest place.
New approach: I shop wherever I feel I get the best value.
It’s all very well and good going to Aldi and spending £50 on a weeks shop… unless you then find yourself going to Tesco a few days later and spending another £25 because Aldi didn’t have everything you needed. Shop where ever is best for you. That could be a mix of shops, your local market or just sticking with one main supermarket to use their loyalty scheme offers. You can find some tips on beating the supermarket here.
Old way of thinking: I’ll just pop into the Co Op after work to get something for tonight’s meal because we haven’t got much in.
New approach: I’ll check what food we have in and see if there’s a simple meal I can make using what we have.
We’ve all done it when we have thought “I’ll just pop in there and pick up a pizza for tea”… £20 and a bag full of stuff you didn’t need later, you realise that you could have just made a simple pasta bake from ingredients at home. It’s so easy to impulse buy in local convenience shops. Having said that, they can be great for some yellow sticker bargains. Just remember to only buy what you need.
Old way of thinking: This is past its best before date so it needs to go in the bin.
New approach: This is past its best before date but it is fine. I’ll use it up in a meal before it goes bad.
Using up what you have rather than throwing it away will absolutely save you money so it’s important to know what Best Before dates and Use By dates mean. Best Before is a guide about quality and taste so fine to eat past that date. Veg past its best before is perfect for making up a big pan of soup which is perfect for lunches or freezing. Use By is about food safety and food should not be eaten past that date (unless frozen – see below). You can read more guidance on this here.
Old way of thinking: I’m not buying reduced meat, what’s the point if it has to be used today.
New approach: I can put the meat straight in the freezer to use another time or I can pop it into the slow cooker to make a big batch meal.
Yellow sticker meat is a fab way to make savings. Whether you freeze it on the day of purchase or cook it straight away, its a great way to eat well on a budget. If you freeze the meat, you can defrost it, cook it and then freeze that meal for future use. This always seems to surprise people but here is some more information on it.
Old way of thinking: Frozen veg isn’t good quality, I would rather have fresh.
New approach: Having in some frozen veg will allow me to make balanced meals on a budget and also means less waste!
Frozen is so cost effective and can be just as nutritious as fresh food. My frozen veg must haves are: peas, broccoli, spinach and sweetcorn. All of which are perfect for bulking up meals or making tasty and balanced side dishes. There’s no waste because I just use what I need as and when I need it. You can find out more about the nutrition of frozen veg here.
A mindful approach…
Old way of thinking: I can’t do anything fun because I am paying off debts/saving money.
New approach: I can afford to budget for the odd treat whilst paying off my debts/saving money.
It is so important to still enjoy your hard earned money when you’re saving. If all you do is save, you might start to resent it. Allowing yourself a treat is absolutely necessary – it doesn’t have to be anything huge either. It could be as simple as a face mask and bar of chocolate, it might be a takeaway or dine in meal at the end of a busy week. It could be a cheap trip to the cinema, a thrifted handbag or it could be a bargain spa day. You don’t have to feel guilty about spending your hard earned money.
Old way of thinking: Second hand items aren’t for me, I’d rather buy new.
New approach: I’ll have a look in a local charity shop then next time I need some new work trousers.
I was once someone who hated the idea of wearing second hand clothing. Now, I love it! It’s a way to shop more sustainably, shop on a budget and to support charity all in one go! A good way to start is for things like work wear. There will most definitely be plenty of work staples in your local charity shops along with lots of lovely hidden gems. So why not have a look? I’ve found some absolutely amazing items for just a few quid – the best being a French Connection jumpsuit, brand new with tags for £3!
Old way of thinking: This year I need to set a budget, start an emergency fund, save £5K, reduce my plastic waste, exercise more, cook from scratch and only buy second hand.
New approach: I would like to make some changes this year but I am going tackle one thing at a time in a way that is manageable.
It is so important to remember that you can’t do it all! It’s easy to want to set lots of goals for the new year but there is absolutely no point piling on the goals if you’re setting yourself up to fail. Tackle one thing at a time until it’s part of your normal routine then start working on the next goal. You’re much more likely to succeed that way.
As we enter 2021 the most important thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. Try to focus on how you approach things which will help to take the pressure off yourself. Allow yourself to make positive and small changes that will help you save more.
Let me know your old way of thinking and new approach in the comments or over on my Instagram grid post.
Happy New Year,
Thrifty Clair x