Reboot, recharge and get your finances into shape. We’ve put together fourteen personal finance hacks – savvy shortcuts to bolster your bank balance1.
Why small steps can lead to big savings
The beauty of lots of small, short steps is – over time – they could add up to a big leap forward for your savings.
We asked for top tricks from you, our colleagues at Barclays, friends and family and were overwhelmed with the response – a deluge of smart and striking ideas.
We’ve highlighted our favourite hacks in speech marks below – some are twists on an old invention , others we’ve never heard of before!
We hope you’ll be inspired by them as well as save some money. With fourteen tips you can try a new one every other day of the month to really see what works for you and gets you in a good finance frame of mind for 2019.
1. Turn your savings into a monthly bill!
‘Set up a standing order from your current account so it pays a set amount into another account each month. You can make it from as little as £1 to however much you can afford – and then forget about it. Pretend it’s a bill, if you like! You’ll be amazed at how much you can save quickly.’
2. Put strangely shaped veg in your supermarket trolley
‘Look out for oddly-shaped veg in boxes for discounts (often quite a few pounds cheaper) because many customers don’t like the way it looks. But if you don’t mind your vegetables coming in strange shapes, it’s an easy saving!’
3. Buy lost and stolen goods at police auctions
“Police forces end up with plenty of lost and stolen items they can’t use, so sell them at auction. Items on offer vary wildly – bikes, razors, toys, denture cream, candles. Type the words ‘police stolen goods auction’ into your web browser and look for an auction near you. You’ll usually have to collect the goods in person, so always check location.”
4. About to splurge? Save the same sum first
“Next time you want to buy a treat – a £30 dress, say – make yourself save the £30 first. E.g. stop yourself buying that coffee out (£3 saved), make a few extra veggie meals (£5 saved) until you hit £30. Now switch this sum from your current account into your savings account. This way, you’ll save extra, get in the habit of cutting back on spending AND give yourself time to make sure you really want that dress.”
5. Pay off pricey debts as a top priority
“If you’re trying to save but regularly run up card or overdraft debts, you might be better off simply paying down your debts instead. Take £1,000 on a card at 18% (£180/yr bill in interest) and £1,000 savings at 1% (earning just £10/yr). If you were to manage to pay off this debt with your savings, you’d be £170 better off.”
6. Be prepared to walk away…you might get paid to stay
“When you come to renew your mobile phone, broadband, gym provider etc, research online to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. If you can, call up your current provider and see what they can do to match this. Often, in a bid to keep you as a customer, they’ll boost your offer e.g. more data for your phone or a month’s free membership.”
7. Have a ‘no spend’ weekend EVERY month
“Set yourself a ‘no spend weekend’ each month. Do activities like going on walks, movie night, board games, free museums. And if you use up any leftover food from the week as well, this can all really make your salary go further every month.”
8. Take the 1p savings challenge
“This is all about scale over a year! Save one penny on day 1, 2p on day 2 and so on. After 365 days you could end up with savings over £650.”
9. Steer clear of monthly insurance bills
“Your premiums might look more affordable in any list of insurance quotes, but there’s a sting – many firms charge high interest if you pay monthly. This can put an extra 20 per cent or so on to your premiums – that’s a whopping £100 more, for example, for a £500 car cover policy. Pay upfront if you can.”
10. Do a daily bank transfer into your savings account… even if it’s just pennies
‘At the end of every day, I check my current account balance and round down whatever is in there e.g. £45.67 rounded down to £45. Then I transfer the difference to a savings account – the pennies soon add up.’
11. Take a very close look at your tax code
“It might look innocent enough to ignore but your tax code can trip you up – it’ll always pay to double-check you’ve got the right one. If it’s wrong, you could pay too much tax or pay too little and get a hefty bill later on. Millions pay the wrong amount every year. There are loads of HMRC tax tips to check you’re on the right one.”
12. Consider putting £50 a month extra onto your mortgage payment
“Overpay a bit each month and you could chop your mortgage term and save thousands in interest. Imagine you owe £100,000 at 3 per cent. It’d be roughly £470 a month over 25 years. But pay an extra £50/month and you could save more than £6,000 interest – and pay it off three years early. Check for early-repayment charges, though.”
13. Pay less for your gas and electricity… with the SAME supplier
“Worried switching your energy company would be a pain? Just phone your existing supplier and ask to be swapped onto its cheapest deal. You could save hundreds if you shift from a standard tariff to a cheaper short-term fix deal. Watch out for tariff exit penalties, though they’re not usually charged for this type of switch.”
14. Shopping online? See if you can get paid to buy it
‘When shopping online, once you’ve found the best price with the retailer of your choice, always check to see if cashback is available – whether it’s from Barclays cashback or other major cashback sites you can find through online research. There’s often a code which can give you a discount on your target item.’