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Living To Save: Good Habits For Saving The Pennies

 

 So at the beginning of this month I moved out of my parent’s house into my own place in the town nearby, not a huge distance, but a big change! I was stressed out for weeks running up to the day, convincing myself it was an impossible task that I was stupid to take on – despite all the love and support from those around me. The stress made the whole process an ordeal and really tainted my last few weeks at home – I self-sabotaged the last weeks in the house I grew up in by making the move a way bigger scarier deal than it turned out to be.
Now I’ve been here just about a month and I love it, and living independently hasn’t been all that terrifying so far, just a bit more to keep on my mind day-to-day. The biggest of all these “grown up” issues is, as expected, money!
Making sure the finances are healthy is a big part of my day, making sure I have enough shifts, online and offline income to keep myself comfortable! Of course, my day job sorts out as much as I need, but in this age we need to save for the future, so I work hard to make sure I’m making and saving enough to stay afloat and keep some back for when I may need it!
Being raised by a family good at navigating the turbulent waters of life, who always made sure I had all I needed growing up, I’ve learnt a lot already, and I’m figuring out more and more as I go along!

1. Become a smart consumer!
Since moving around, I have started brushing up on my quick mental maths so I can easily calculate what I get for my money, and being more thoughtful with what I invest in, taking the time to consider each item and decide whether it is worth it.
Things like Ready meals seem like such a good idea at the time, but actually are bad for your wallet. When a microwave lasagne is only £1-2 from the shops, that may seem like a great way to put food on the table, but it’s a marketing trick. It is banking on the fact that it is quick to grab off the shelf, and they just hope that the consumer buying it doesn’t stop to work out that it would be a much better deal to cook a pan of lasagne that they could then reheat for the next day or two (or freeze) and have over a longer period of time. If I want something, I always quickly do an estimate of how much the ingredients would cost. The individual componets of the meal may work out as more expensive, but it is usually in quantities big enough that they will last for multiple recipes, rather than just 1 meal.
2. Plan Ahead
 My housemate and I have started doing big shops together in order to save money, because we find we spend less by doing our shopping in bulk. As we all know, when you go shopping you always end up getting some stuff you didn’t plan for, or you got hungry when you saw a treat, and there are always those little things you put in the cart that you forget about.
Planning ahead and doing one big shop every week or two actually really helps to organise yourself and save buying unnecessary junk.
Also before I go do a big shop, I make a list of the meals I plan to make and their ingredients and browse online supermarket prices, to compare where is cheaper. I tend to go to multiple shops to get the things that are cheaper from each one – it is a fair bit more effort, but you save a lot of money in the process, and after a while you start to learn where certain things are cheaper and naturally remember without the research!

3. Free Transportation

Being a somewhat lazy person, I never showed much appreciation for the fast and free mode of transportation available to me, that is walking. I always got the bus, caught a lift or, in dire circumstances, got a cab, but recently I adopted a zero-tolerance policy on transport and decided to always walk into work if time, weather and health are suitable to do so.
I live a half hour walk from where I work and the amount of effort the walk feels beforehand always fills me with dread, but it’s never so bad as I think it will be and I save upwards of £10 a week and get fitter as I go!

3. Go reusable

Integrating reusable items into your life can be such a great way of saving money. It reduces the need to re-buy (in some cases for life) items which you would have once used only up to a couple of times before discarding.
Reusable items are not only better for your bank balance, but often the environment too, reducing the amount of waste that to landfill dramatically

My favourite items online
Laundry Eggs
These are plastic balls filled with pellets that slowly dissolve over hundreds of washes, cutting out other detergents and saving money! They are usually refillable and eco-friendly to boot! They can be purchased plain, but there are also scented alternatives to give your laundry a fresh smell!

While they appear extremely expensive, a quick breakdown of the price divided by the number of washes shows that even some of the more expensive brands work out at only about £0.03p per wash, so saving you money as well as time and protecting the environment!
Here is a list of available brands online!

 

Dryer Balls
Dryer balls are a super helpful little gadget! You throw them in the tumble dryer with your washing and set it going, the dryer balls aerate the laundry, helping the laundry dry a lot faster, saving time, money and energy!
There are also brands that scent your laundry, to make it smell nice while they’re at it!

 

Reusable Straws
A bizarre item to think of buying a reusable alternative to, but if you have a tendency to get through a lot of straws, investing in a set of silicone or stainless steel straws could be a great idea!
While cool, they are also easy to clean, reduce plastic wastage, and save that little bit of money if you find yourself getting through too many.


Microfiber Kitchen Cloths
Microfiber cleaning cloths are a great reusable investment that make cleaning a lot easier and I would recommend anyone to start using them in place of disposable surface wipes!
I use them for most cleaning jobs- they even leave windows and mirror streak-free and clean!

Unexpectedly reusable
I would never have guessed it was a legitimate idea before seeing it in action, but I have met a lot of people recently who reuse kitchen sponges, throwing them in the hot wash with their tea towels to freshen them up every couple days! I am not sure whether this practice is recommended with them, but I have being doing it ever since and seen no issue from it!

4. Save The Pennies
Literally. Put those pennies into a jar and keep them safe, then get them swapped out for cash when it gets full! It’s a really good idea whe you stick to it, as pennies are hard to carry around and use, but do add up quickly! I currently have about £14 in pennies in a jar on my desk and am waiting a bit longer before lugging it all to the bank for the precious payout!
Getting a container that isn’t necessarily easy to raid is a good call, as it helps to prevent dipping in unnecessarily and slowing your progress.
I’m fond of the huge novelty banks that can hold hundreds of pounds as, while they take longer to fill up, the payout is so satisfying when you finish it up!
Here are some I can recommend, if you don’t want to go down the “coffee jar” route.

5. Side Projects

Finding easy sources of side income, even if it’s only a little amount, is a great way of taking some of the stress off finances. While this may seem obvious, it’s a step worth thinking really hard about – you would not believe some of the weird things I’ve made money from in my time!
Think hard about what you can do to bring in that extra bit of cash:
Cleaning
Drawing
Knitting
Freelance assistant work
Email editor
TV extra
Affiliate advertiser
The above are all little side things I have made money from personally so, trust me, I’ve been there and done that!

6. Get A Routine

Come up with a routine of saving, some small rules to follow that are feesible with your lifestyle. Decide what limitations you need, what percentage of your income you can set aside, and any goals you want to reach and in what time.
Make sure to be realistic with your goals, rather than pushing to have to stretch yourself too far to meet your goals- It will increase the chances of success and keep you motivated. Don’t trouble yourself too much by trying to set goals too ambitious, because you can always set a lower goal and exceed it, while overestimating and missing the mark will leave you disappointed and possibly result in actually saving less.
How much do you believe, with being careful, you could save a week? Or month?
What things could you cut down, without damaging your quality of life, to save that little bit extra on?

I hope these tips help you to improve your savings and reach a greater level of prosperity! Remember, having money is great, but do not make your whole life centred around it – Do what you can to make sure you have what you need, but remember to take that little bit of time to enjoy your life – don’t make every moment a scrabble for more, and make sure there are things in you life that really make you feel good, that makes all your hard work worth it.
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Reclaiming your space: Beating messiness

I’ve promised to always be honest on here and, in all painful honesty, I am a messy person. I have a habit of being rather lazy and also to pass up tidying and cleaning in favour of more “productive” jobs. It isn’t good, it isn’t fun and it’s got to change.

I am slowly starting to change this (on my days off work) and I wanted to share my ways of clearing some space.

Ask yourself what you want from your space.
Do you want your space to be a bedroom, an office, a dressing room, a wardrobe, a guest room? begin by asking yourself what kind of room you want it to be and think hard about what features that kind of room has.
Do you want it to have a lot of open space and clear walls? Then maybe you don’t want lots of stuff and shelves all over the walls.

Tough love
This may be the worst part of the whole experience. Where you have to bite the bullet and be painfully honest with yourself about the stuff you need to throw out.
Do you need the big prop sword you never use? Do you need ALL those bottles of perfume you never wear? Is it actually possible that you own too many storage boxes?!
It’s not easy to be 100% straight with yourself at this point, but force yourself through it. Gather up a load of your stuff and put it into two piles, being totally honest. One pile is for stuff you need and actually use, the other is for the charity or junk shop.

Spend a little money
it doesn’t have to be a lot of money, just invest a little into some good cleaning products, the right kind of storage for yourself and maybe a couple DVD folders for the thousands of movies you own.

One of the best things I bought for organising my space was this storage ottoman:

 

It can be folded flat, but when set up (and with some stuff inside) it also makes a fantastic seat! When I got it, I filled it with stuff and jumped on top of it to see if it would break and (while I WOULD NOT RECOMMENT doing this) it didn’t give way!

Make a list
For messy folks like me, we sometimes need a challenge to make sure we stick to our guns. Maybe keep a list of jobs you have to do, or keep a record of the jobs you to each day.
I own a little red notebook called my ‘task book’ in which I write all the jobs I did that day and how much money I earned that day.

Don’t get mad, get even
You wanted this. You want a tidy room/house and it’ll be worth it in the end. Chores and cleaning can be a pain, but suck it up and make your room perfect, one step at a time.

Slaying the beast
The biggest challenge we’ll face in this process is most likely the “sentimental monster” that creeps up behind you as you look at that Cow Keyring in your hand and whispers “That was an awesome day when you bought that. If you throw that away, you throw the memories away with it”
This voice is a liar and sentimentality should, one, be saved for REALLY special memories, and shouldn’t be on stuff like a cow keyring, unless it holds a LOT of emotional value to you.

Stay on top of it
Like with any war, it’s not just about the one battle. You have to keep winning each battle, and that means staying on top of things and not winning one and then just stepping down. If you do that, your space will go back to just as bad as before. Control your space, keep your stuff in check and don’t just let it slide.

To get my idea, here are a list of Keepers Vs Leavers

Staying                                                                                Going

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This keyring has very strong personal value    VS.        A cow keyring that won’t actually clip

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A box I made myself by hand                               VS.  Some random jewellery boxes I collected

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A scarf my best friend bought in Italy                VS.  A random brown square I knitted

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My favourite perfumes                                            VS. Perfumes I never use (Check out that dust!)

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My precious Batman and Maneki Neko             VS.    Some random “cool looking” bottles

I’m staying true to my word and the “Goers” are going in the recycling or the charity shop.

Good luck! X