Not only do we have a wedding and honeymoon to pay for, I also booked us a cheap week away to Florida in September. So I've taken our very tight budget and stretched it even more – it'll be worth it in the end, but there are only so many ways I can make extra money before I burn out.
A few weeks ago I came up with the idea of withdrawing our weekly household money in cash and then physically putting aside whatever is left over after a week into an envelope. The money left over would go straight into our Florida fund. With 15 weeks to go when I started, I thought every little bit that we could save would help. Our budget is quite generous, especially for thriftsters, at £65 a week to cover our food, cleaning products, meals out, additional entertainment and takeaways. Our groceries come in at around £25-£35 a week, leaving as much as £30 left over for top up shops, meals out, takeaways and even pesky parking charges when we go to the cinema.
Since dealing in cash only, I've found my spending has dropped. A small top up shop on a debit card ends up being around £10, whereas with cash, if we're going to buy bread, we buy bread, because handing over £1 (or 10p if I've managed to get it from the cheap shelf) is a heck of a lot easier than handing over £10 on junk we don't need. I've also looked at ways of getting our meals out cheaper – either by not going, mystery shopping or using vouchers. Instead of a sit down meal every week, we might opt for a cheaper Subway – £10 for 2 foot long subs and a drink is really good value. Another great side effect of running this challenge means that I'm actively looking through our food supplies to see what we can use up – the freezers have never been so empty, and yet there's still probably weeks worth of food in them, once you start getting creative.
After four weeks we have managed to save £41.43 – an average of £10.35 a week! Imagine if we did this for an entire year, it would be £538.59. It should hopefully give us an extra £155.36 for our trip to Florida if we manage to keep saving at this rate.
I find that cash works better for me, but there's no reason why you can't apply the same idea to your bank account. Just set up a different account (e-savings accounts are the easiest to set up) and transfer any saved money over each week. I found that when we were using our debit cards to buy groceries, we'd often go over our budget because we didn't have a physical reminder of how much we had left to spend. And of course, you can make your savings more glamorous than my A4 white envelope with “Florida savings” written on the front – a nice piggy bank would make a great alternative.
Having something to look forward to definitely helps in that moment of weakness whilst in store. I try to covert whatever I'm considering buying into something in Florida – if it is a bottle of coke, I think about how much nicer it'll be to have a frozen coke slushie in Florida! If it is a meal out that we're debating, we decide if we'd rather go out that night, or The Cheesecake Factory in September. Of course, that's pretty extreme thinking, but as I mentioned, our budgets are already stretched very thin, so it is a case of every penny counts.
Do you prefer to use cash or cards? Which one helps you to save more?
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