If you are reading this at home, take a look around you. We all buy extra toot that we really do not need. Shops and marketers use thousands of subtle ways to make us buy things impulsively, but the best defence is to say ‘I’ll think about it’. Changing habits is one of the most difficult things to do, but if you know that you make impulse purchases, try to only buy things that you intended to. If you see something when browsing, have a cooling off period of a few days and if you still want it, go for it. The same can be achieved for online shopping by adding the item to ‘save for later’ or leaving it in your basket for a few days. Deferred gratification means that you will look forward to your delayed purchases over those days and perhaps enjoy it and appreciate it even more, and avoid buying things you don’t really need. You can even try changing your password to one of your financial goals, perhaps a holiday destination (with a mix of numbers and symbols… keep your passwords cryptic folks!), which may keep you focused.
Many companies use some of their marketing budget to offer discounts and cashback. Many websites and apps use this to give you money, keeping a bit back for themselves naturally! If this was a purchase you were going to make anyway, it makes sense to get a little cash back if it is being offered. Below are some of my favourites:
If you do decide you want something, get cashback on your purchases using a service like TopCashBack. Earn upto 10% on Amazon purchases (although usually 2% on most items), 2% on most supermarket chains, and hundreds more. Cashback is delivered as vouchers to use in many different well known retails.
A similar app is Airtime Rewards which allows you to link your debit/credit card or Apple and Google Pay, and when you spend as normal in a selection of online and high street shops you can earn cashback which you can use to decrease your monthly mobile phone bill or top-up if you are pay-as-you-go. Shops include Argos, Debenhams, Wilko and many more. If you purchase online, you can use in conjunction with TopCashBack to earn twice! Use the code BEGECKUR to earn (at time of writing) 50p, plus £1 if you spend on your connected card within 7 days. You can currently earn airtime on the Vodafone, Three, O2, EE and GiffGaff networks. You can also ‘gift’ airtime to someone else if you are on a different network or if you don’t need to top-up.
There are also apps where you can earn cashback for particular items when you upload your receipt. My favourite is Shopmium. View the list (sometimes shop specific) of valid items either in-store or online. Then simply purchase the item, upload a photo of the receipt and the barcode. Use promo code d89g53 to get the cashback to cover a complete item, making it effectively free. Currently, this is a 500g tub of Ben & Jerry’s.
Grocery shopping is potentially an area where you can make big savings with a few tweaks of your habits which you can reinvest by increasing the quality of the food you buy. Personal, I am not one for coupon cutting as the time/money saving benefit is usually limited and it allows supermarkets and companies to direct you to buy what they want, rather than what you want. The same ‘impulse buy awareness’ applies to grocery shopping, and you should try to make a list of items you want, and think carefully about additional items if you are tempted to buy them. We will discuss environmental issues in the next section, but it is important to note that food waste is a real issue and that 60% (Source) of this waste could be avoided. It is also one of the easiest ways to save if you change your habits.
Things to try:
- Shop more… Seriously. Buying a week’s worth of groceries means that you have to guess 7 days ahead want everyone in your household wants. Instead, try to buy fewer items in one go, and shop when you actually need to, rather than having a shopping day. Sound like extra work? If you walk past a supermarket, great! But if that is not the case, most supermarkets have a delivery pass which allows unlimited next day delivery for around £50-60 a year. Considering that the average consumer wastes 20% of everything they buy, getting delivers little, but often can easily cover this upfront cost.
- Embrace the tin! Dried, picked and tinned food can last for years, so you can use these if your fresh food runs out, and you will be less inclined to buy extra fresh food ‘just in case’ which is unlikely to be eaten. This back-up store should be seen as second rate, and it is important that you buy quality things that you are your family love.
- Get to know your freezer. You will be amazed by what can be frozen. The answer is usually ‘Yes, it can!’ Plus freezing often means that the food is more nutritious than if it has been sitting in a shop and then browning in your fridge for a week. There are some tips here from the BBC about freezing food.
- Bulk buy when you will actually use it. BOGOF is a double-edged sword as it can mean savings, but it can also mean that the item will be wasted. Think carefully if is will actually get used.
8. Think Eco
Generally, what is good for the environment will also be good for your economics. We have already address food wastage, but energy wastage is also an issue, even for those of us using renewable energy from the gird.
Power To You
As a renewable energy supplier simply adds power to the grid somewhere, rather than directly to me, the total energy still needs to be generated, and therefore, reducing power consumption can still reduce the need to generate power from fossil fuels, which are usually the turned up and down to level out demand. What’s more, it will save you money as well as the planet. So spend some time making your home as energy efficient as possible and turn things completely off when you are not using them. Many devices use only a little less power in standby as when they are on!
In addition, you may wish to consider some micro power generated to power your small gadgets using a portable USB solar panel, this not only pays for itself is just a few months, it is a great teaching tool to use in class, as the kids love seeing environment issues being practically addressed and see if they can run the classroom ‘off-grid’ for a day.
There is no doubt that is some areas of the country and for some journeys a car is essential, but changing the way you use it can save petrol, CO2 emissions and your money. If you are not in a position to go electric, there are smaller measures you can take. The wrong tyre pressure can make your car 10% less efficient, so ensuring this is correct is an easy way to improve the cost to you and the environment. Also, ensure you are not carrying around excess weight which requires additional fuel to move around. Perhaps you might even get away with using this as an excuse to leave your marking at school!
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