Are you getting the most for your money? Reviewing your spending habits

The two months of November and December are probably those where our pockets are hit the hardest.

From a Halloween hangover and bonfire night to the sudden emergence of Black Friday, and the delights of Christmas and New Year, our bank accounts will no doubt be a lot less bloated than our bellies come January. Tightening our spending need not be the onerous task that we suppose – here are some small tips for changing your monetary habits.

Impulse buys

We’ve all done it – spent money on an item that we have to own right now, with no possibility of waiting. However, there are precautions we can take to avoid this. If you know that you’re likely to spend in a certain shop or event, avoid them completely for a while. Prepare lunches at home in the morning to ward off the lovely smells of shops and spending. It’s drastic, but some banks will even let you block your debit cards at certain times of the day when you might be most vulnerable to splurging. And don’t fall prey to the ‘buy now, pay later’ temptation.

Waste not buy not

Just because an item may be part of a BOGOF (Buy one get one free) offer, that doesn’t mean that it’s obligatory to buy it – especially if you wouldn’t normally buy it without the offer. Food offers are particularly frustrating, as you’ll sometimes buy two packs of fruit or vegetables and watch them rot away. Instead, stick to purchasing items that you know you’ll use.

Regular reviews

Taking a monthly overview of your spending habits using current accounts, loans and credit cards will help you identify priorities; a simple case of shifting funds from one source to another might save you a few pounds in interest charges, or push you towards using an aggregator that can enable you to find better deals.

Takeaways? Go away

You might find that once you make one subtle adjustment to your lifestyle, others follow naturally. Let’s say that you cut out one takeaway a month, with an average of £30 for the family. Over time, you realise that you feel slightly better, so you also cut down on beer and other junk food, and decide to get generally fitter. Soon enough you’ve swapped the cinema visits for fitness activities; you decide to participate in more walking than driving – and you’re saving money along the way.

Cutting costs while barely knowing it

Many little changes can be achieved without even directly seeing them. For example, raising your insurance excess could cut your monthly premium – just make sure you remain careful with your driving! Not buying a chocolate bar or sweets at counters, changing our utility providers through comparison sites, and many other small changes could all make a difference.

Reduce multiple entertainment providers

If you buy movies on Sky Store or similar, wait a month or two for them to appear on Sky Cinema anyway. In fact, if you pay for a number of subscriptions to various entertainment providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, magazines et al, then perhaps a hiatus could be a wise move. Can you cope without some of these? Consolidate your TV and entertainment sources, only paying for what you actually watch regularly, and you could see a saving every month.

These may only seem like little gains, but add all these up every month and you could see a decent saving. There are many financial outgoings that you cannot negotiate, so focus on the ones you can to make sure you’re getting the very most for your money.