Monday 1 September 2014

Guest Blog: Winter Blues - Savings for the Budget Savvy You

No one wants to waste money. Therefore, everyone likes to save money, right? Not necessarily. The issue is, we don’t realize the little droplets of money that keep bleeding on small things. Saving money consistently is really hard work. The most vigilant budget savvy lapse on some of them from time to time-Trust me I know. The bright side, of course, is that with so many opportunities for saving money, there are bound to be a few you've overlooked.

If you are trying to trim your monthly budget, this article will help by taking a look at some common ways to save money that are often forgotten. Let’s go thru some of the ways to save the most money with each method and find out exactly how much money can be saved with each one.
The recommended winter setting for a home thermostat when people are at home is 20 degrees Celsius. If you keep yours above that, reduce it to 23. Once you've gotten used to that daytime temperature (or if you already had it set there), try setting it a few degrees lower. You'll have to experiment to see how low you can stand it -- you don't want to blow the money you saved on heat, buying mittens. The exact amount you'll save varies based on heating prices, the size and efficiency of your house and the temperature outside. 
To save even more, take the temperature down to 15.6 or 12.8 degrees Celsius when you're away or in bed. (Some people even go down10 degrees Celsius). If you work outside the home during the day and sleep eight hours a night, you will be reducing your energy usage for 16 hours per day. That will translate to hundreds of pounds in savings in just a year or two. If you're home during the day and need the heat, you'll save about half as much by just turning it down at night.
By the way, it's a common myth that you'll use so much energy getting the house warm again that you won't save anything by turning it down. When you turn the heat down, the heat doesn't run as the house's temperature falls. You save enough energy then to counteract the energy used to reheat the house, so you break even. The savings come during the time you leave the temperature down, since the heating system isn't working as hard to maintain a differential between the inside and outside temperatures. The longer you leave the thermostat turned down, the more you'll save.

Spending on clothes can be hard to track because it's not something most people do every week or even every month. First, don't focus on brand names. You are usually just paying for the name, and the clothes are not always nicer than what you would find in a lesser-known brand. Considering the insane prices for designer jeans, shoes and other apparel, you can rack up massive savings with this step alone, depending on your prior shopping habits.

Next, sort your clothes and note what you wear regularly and what hangs in the closet until you forget you even own it. It doesn't matter how little you spend on an article of clothing -- if you never wear it, it's all wasted money. Focus on versatile pieces that can be worn in different situations or that match lots of other things so you can create different outfits.
Now, plan ahead. You don't want to be buying winter clothes in November because things are most expensive "in season." Stores cycle through their clothes pretty quickly, though, so head to the clearance rack if you have to buy. You'll find incredible deals on clothes that will be in season in a few months. It takes some digging, since those clearance racks can be poorly organized, but it's worth it. Imagine a £30 pair of jeans on clearance for 75 to 50 percent off (not an uncommon sale). If you're focused on fashion, you can still save money while shopping for current styles.
Take a look at fashion outlet stores and discount Web sites. Also consider store brands that follow fashion trends without the prices of big brand names
Many goods are cheaper when purchased in large quantities. Obviously, you want to stay away from things that will spoil (In other words, don’t buy perishables in bulk). Some bulk purchases go wrong for reasons you couldn't possibly predict. The best items to buy in bulk are paper goods. Toilet paper, paper towels and printer paper never go bad and store easily. It's also sensible to stock up on cleaning supplies, garbage bags, soap, shampoo, and laundry detergent. These are things you will always need and will certainly use -- and won't go bad.
Coffee is a product with a large gap between the price at a coffee shop and the per cup price if you make it at home. If you buy a moderately priced package of coffee- If you happen to enjoy even cheaper varieties of coffee, you can get that price down even lower. If you usually buy a coffee at Starbucks every day, it won't take long for the coffee maker to pay for itself, and the savings will start piling up after that. As an added benefit, you can make your coffee just how you like it, try different varieties of coffee, and never have to deal with the hassle of trying to order coffee in a coffee shop ever again.
Public transportation is another alternative mode of travel, but riding a bike has advantages over that, too. Wouldn't it be nice to cut that expense out of the budget?
There's one more potential savings factor if you ride your bike everywhere. You might be able to skip the gym membership, since you'll be getting plenty of exercise just getting around town.
Be creative and find new ways to save those pennies so that you won't get caught out in the cold financially this winter.

Written by Tokie L Brown 

About The Author

Tokie Laotan-Brown is the author of the book “10 Steps to Managing your household budget” which provides readers with useful financial management tools to assess how their household expenditure is utilised.
Twitter - @tokielbrown

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