Today I thought I would talk about living on a budget. I have spent the past three years at University living as a student on student finances and I would have thought things would have improved financially now I have a job. However, things are still sort of tricky. It is often as though my bank is stuck in a rut, it gets paid and then next day all the bloody bills come out! So after a long thought regarding the struggles I thought I would share some tips and tricks on how to survive on a budget and not getting into sticky situations. So sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy the read.
1) Switching Suppliers - Not long ago we switched providers for our electricity and gas due to being over charged a ridiculous amount. SSE initially charged around £30 a month for gas and ended up going up to £100 over the course of two payments. At this point we were quite concerned as we didn't use the heating as such and this was the only gas we use in the house. So we were freezing our butts off whilst paying an extortionate amount! So we decided to go with Uswitch and swap to Npower where we are paying around £50 for both gas and electricity and they haven't messed us around so far (*knocks on wood*).
2) Savvy Shopping - Now the best way of saving a few pennies is searching for a bargain. Every time I go shopping I always seek for the best value per kg, it's a great way to know you aren't paying too much for something. For example, when I go to buy cheese I always look at the price per kg, it is often the case that some cheese is on offer so appears it will be the best value but most of the time it will be Tesco's own cheese that appears better for value. I always find that looking for food that is either smart price or tesco value can save quite a lot of pennies compared to branded products. I always tend to go to home bargains, poundland or similar stores to get toiletries for the house such as toothpaste, soap and of course the dreaded toilet roll. These toiletries often cost little but last an incredible amount of time, I mean I wash my hair every other day yet I still have a bottle of shampoo that I bought over a month ago. Crazy. I also found this adorable door mat from poundland - £1 for a welcome mat that has cats on it, bargain! It is always best to shop around to save a bit of a harsh drop onto the bank account.
3) Planning Ahead - This is always the tough part that you really don't ever want to do. Checking when bills come out and making sure you have enough money in your bank to pay these bills. Now I'll admit I am terrible for this, I put some money away in my savings account for bills and rent but then if we need food or anything I will see it as money I have so use it anyway. This is something I am working on changing and ensuring I have enough money saved in my account for when bills come out and not extra that I have left over. This way you know how much you have left to spend each week.
4) Wrapping up - Keeping warm is so important, especially around this time of year. I have previously made a post on keeping warm during winter while not increasing the heating usage and I still stand by that. The best thing to do in a house that is quite cold is to wrap up warm, yes this is an excellent excuse to put on your dressing gown and slippers. Not to mention being able to use a lot of blankets and I dare say we have excessive amounts put to good use! As you can see from the following picture a classic example of one of our blankets (well, when I say ours it is really Kee's but when you live together everything is shared!) and these awesome slippers from my sister. This way you can save a little extra on the bills and also be comfortable.
5) Energy efficiency - It is important to try and save energy as much as you can when you can. First of all if you notice a switch on and it isn't being used try turn it off! Just little things like this can help save a little. This includes light switches, a few weeks ago we were stuck without a bathroom cord for our light meaning that it was on all night because we (I - being a little short arse) couldn't reach the cord. Thank fully my dad brought round a cord he had bought from ebay and attached it to our switch which we are so grateful for, (thanks dad, yet again you helped us out!). As well as saving energy through lights an alternative method to use can be using candles, while it sounds quite pretentious it does create a nice ambiance before you relax to go to sleep at night. My sister got myself and Kee a lovely set of candles as a moving in present which are incredibly soppy, but I love them.
On the subject of being energy efficient one big difference can be using an airer instead of a tumble dryer. This may sound like a lot of hassle and not being time efficient. However, if you wash your clothes, place them on the airer overnight and they will be dry by morning. It is also best to ensure your clothes are spread out evenly on the airer rather than piled up on top of each other to allow the clothes to dry faster. Also make sure you have room on the airer so take any dry clothes off or any kittens that like to play on it while you're hanging out the clothes. This picture is one way how not to dry your clothes efficiently!
So there you have it, some simple yet efficient tips on saving money and helping to live on a budget. After a few months the difference will show on how much you can save each month and it'll make you feel that little bit better.
Please feel free to share any tips you have on living on a budget, I would love some more suggestions!