Last Updated on 20 January 2021 by Dan
Hello everyone! We talk on this blog about the importance of saving money often, which leads of a lot of the other good stuff in building a healthy financial life.
It can sometimes feel a bit theoretical, so I wanted to share a few things that I’ve done practically over the last few months that have cut expenses.
Cutting the cord with Sky:
We are truly in the age of peak TV. Some of the latest dramas and sport out there have been absolutely brilliant!
I’ve been a subscriber to Sky pretty much since I moved to London, and I think it’s actually a pretty great product. Unfortunately ominous looking envelopes about price rises had come through my door several times in that period and I felt the cost was mounting up.
Faced with this I decided to assess what I was actually watching and enjoying. There were definitely some of Sky’s programs amongst it, but I realised a couple of things through this exercise:
1) I’m out doing other things on a frequent basis, and my TV viewing was often not that substantial.
2) Most of the TV watching I was doing was actually on Netflix, not Sky.
Faced with facts there was only one thing to do – cut the cord! It was actually a bit of a challenge – there were shows I missed for sure. However, it’s focused my limited TV watching into more quality stuff, and I’ve had no regrets several months down the line.
I should note I did intend to cancel everything, but ended up keeping Sky Broadband and Talk. This was because I’d done my research beforehand and knew the price that I could get with a competitor and they offered me the same price for something which was exactly equivalent. When I haven’t had issues with the service, no point switching for the sake of it!
What I saved – £65 a month or £780 a year!
Ok, ok….. I’ve cheated a little here but it’s to illustrate a point. This was the saving from the full price package I was on, but practically I was on a deal with reduced the cost for most of my time with Sky in exchange for extending the contract.
Sky have these deals at the time so if you don’t want to cancel Sky, it’s well worth giving them a call. I’ll write a separate post on how Sky will engage with you on this and how best to negotiate. UPDATE: It’s now live! It’s absolutely worth doing as the savings can be substantial.
Getting a library card:
I absolutely devour books. A combination of an hour-and-a-quarter-each-way commute and a quick reading speed means that I’m constantly on the hunt for new material!
I did something this year that I’ve been meaning to do for ages, and went and joined my local library. And you know what…… I was really pleasantly surprised. The sign up process and arming me with my shiny new library card took minutes. The range was excellent and I found significant more newer books than I was expecting – obtaining good material wasn’t the struggle I thought it might be.
Owing to my voluminous book appetites I’ve largely shifted to using a Kindle for practical purposes (even if there’s nothing quite like a good solid book) so the most pleasant surprise was to find out that you can get e-books through the library as well.
I still buy the odd book here (Amazon’s daily deals, often having interesting kindle books for 99p is great for discovering new stuff by the way) but library use has definitely reduced my spend.
What I saved – I was getting through two £6.99ish books a week, but always tried to find bargains and usually did so I think the cost is a bit lower in reality. Let’s say that’s a saving of £8 a week and £416 a year. That’s more than I would have expected.
Always love a good book chat so please do let us know any recommendations.
The nice thing about these tips is that they’re actually not all about moneysaving in origin.
I absolutely love and adore coffee. The taste of it, the smoothness, that flavour profile you get from some really good beans. I love it, and I’m unashamedly a coffee snob.
What I was noticing however was that the caffeine would leave me a bit too fired up – initially I’d see the improvement in concentration on my work but before long I’d start feeling anxious. I’d already largely switched to decaf as a result this year.
This year I’ve made an effort to cut down entirely – a morning cup from the work cafeteria was a daily treat. I still have an occasional cup, but try and build it into something useful like networking – and yes, just occasionally I do treat myself. It’s no longer a daily treat though.
If a daily coffee is a habit for you, it’s worth totting up just how much it’s costing you. With each hit being relatively cheap it never feels like much on each purchase – but big picture it can add up to loads.
What I saved – I’m probably drinking 2 cups a week instead of 5. Part of this was the temptation through my work cafe which is a very reasonable (for barista coffee) £1.65 for a flat white. So that’s £4.95 a week saved and £257 a year.
Just for comparison if you didn’t have the luxury of a work cafe and were at a Costa/Starbucks your coffee would be more like £2.80. Working on the same “three cups less” basis the saving there would be £8.40 a week and £436 a year.
Cooking at Home:
Again, this didn’t start as a moneysaving thing but simply trying to flex an old skill. It’s been a genuine pleasure (especially through the winter months) to take the time to try out a few more recipes.
If you think you can’t cook, I recommend signing up for some basic classes and considering it as an investment. Once you get into it it’s a real pleasure – and not only is the end result more tasty than anything you buy, it’s usually healthier as well and gives you control over what you put into it.
What I saved: I was never a big takeaway person anyhow – let’s say a takeaway for 2 a week of £20 as a very approximated figure for cooking in a couple of times a week but obviously still having to buy ingredients. That’s a saving of £1,020 a year.
I know I’m using some approximation on that last one I never thought it would be the biggest. Given research shows that especially in London ordering takeaway has become a regular thing, the savings here could be massive…..
Made any practical changes of your own? Please let us know!
There’s some great advice on the Joelisa blog on a six step approach to living within your means which contains more great tips!
If you’re after more moneysaving tips, you may find our article on saving money on tube and train fares interesting.
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