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Looking back at 2016, there are certain areas where we spent more than we wanted to, or we actually lost money. This year I am participating in #PlanAheadToSave where, inspired by the “New Year, New Start” mentality of January, I want to become more financially organised for 2017. Here are the steps I am taking to save more money this year.

Meal planning

Groceries is definitely one of our biggest monthly costs, and in January we set ourselves a goal to only spend £100 on groceries and our other household spending (toiletries, cleaning products, etc). It has been a challenge, especially with two cats to feed, but meal planning has been integral to this. Meal planning means that we decide our meals for a week and then build a shopping list around those meals. It means that we no longer purchase food that then goes to waste, and we only buy what we need. Without meal planning we find ourselves wandering around a supermarket rather aimlessly, and losing money.

Budgeting for annual expenses

If we receive a discount for paying annual bills annually (such as insurance policies) then we will do our best to pay the annual fee. Unfortunately, we have a lot of annual payments due in the same month, so planning ahead for these helps us to not lose money in the long run. To do this, we divide the annual cost (usually inflated a bit) into 12 and put that money aside every month, so that when the renewal rolls around, we have the money set aside. This works great for other annual costs like Christmas.

Ensuring that I have proper insurance

Forgetting insurance for valuable items can be a really expensive mistake – I dread to think about the costs associated with anything happening to my iPhone or iPad. It is really important that I make sure all our valuable possessions have adequate insurance so that we don't lose money should something happen to them. This applies to all types of insurance, including holiday insurance!

Automating my savings

Setting up a standing order for my savings will definitely help me to save more money. Treating my savings as a bill – an amount that I must put away every month without fail – means that I can watch my savings grow regularly. If I manage to save money on other spending, or increase my income, then I will be topping up my savings account too.

Increasing my income

I am always looking for new ways to boost my income, and so far in January I have been listing a lot of unwanted items on eBay, and I've made a nice amount of money to boost my savings with. Whether it is selling on eBay, mystery shopping or completing more online surveys, I am going to continue looking for more ways to make more money in 2017.

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