Everybody knows that saving money is a good habit to get into but the reality of modern life is that so many people prefer to spend what they have (and more) rather than save. It was different in previous generations when credit was difficult to come by or prohibitively expensive, but now, even after the long recession that started back in 2008 it is still relatively easy to get credit. Whether on credit cards, as an overdraft, as a personal loan or other sorts of loans; there are so many options and so many lenders offering us credit that it's no surprise we seem to be a nation in debt.
Even the most sensible of people can be tempted by a credit card especially when it has a low interest or even zero percent deal but constantly buying on credit will prevent you ever developing a healthy saving habit. And a healthy habit it is, because having savings rather than debt is good for our mental well-being. It means we don't have those anxieties and worries about money that can keep us awake at night.
According to Time magazine half of people aged 35 and older are kept awake at night because of worries over their finances. That’s more than those worried about their health, relationships or career. Financial worries can put pressure on important aspects of life by causing mental and physical ill-health, reducing productivity at work, and causing problems in our personal relationships.
So when you are next tempted to get another loan or spend more on credit think about whether the new item you are planning to buy will make up for the potential anxiety that extra debt can cause. Instead try and make a commitment to change your spending habits focusing on what you really need not just on short-term wants.
But it's hard to change spending habits so just what are some of the best ways to learn how to start saving instead of spending?
One of the easiest ways is to generate spare cash by reducing your existing outgoings and start putting that cash away in a savings account. Of course, interest rates for savings are very low so don't expect much in the way of interest but having a separate account is a great way to avoid touching your savings as they mount up, which they will – and quicker than you might imagine.
Here are a few easy ways to free up some cash to start building your savings pot:
Create a Budget
You can't reduce what you spend if you don't know how much you spend - and on what - so the first step to start saving is to create a budget for all your regular expenses such as rent or mortgage, food shopping, utility bills, insurance, petrol for the car etc. Take a look at what you currently spend on the flexible items like groceries and work out what you could realistically cut that down to by economising with cheaper brands etc.
Learn To Cook
Ready prepared food is always more expensive than making it yourself and home-made is always taster and healthier as you tend to use less salt and sugar than manufacturers do in their pre-prepared dishes. There's really no excuse for not learning to cook your own tasty, healthy meals what with the abundance of TV cookery programs, books, magazines and websites devoted to all things about food.
It has even become common for people to buy ready prepared salads and ready chopped vegetables; all of which you are paying a premium for. So try and stop this habit straight away and your wallet will thank you. You will be healthier, better off and you might just find you enjoy cooking.
If you have the same insurers, energy provider or phone company that you have had for several years then it is definitely worth checking prices with other companies. Typically these companies do not offer the best deals to long-term customers so you could get a better deal if you switch; it's easy to compare deals on sites like gocompare.com or moneysupermarket.com and look at how you could switch energy suppliers and save money.
And when it comes to car insurance, different rates are charged for different parts of the country so it always pays to find the insurance company that favours your region or postcode. Make sure you check how much you are paying every year so you are always on the best deal.
Avoid Late Payment Charges
Paying a credit card bill late or paying less than the minimum amount will incur a hefty fee so avoid this at all costs. Set up a direct debt for the minimum monthly payment for credit card bills and all other bills, including utility bills. These fees can easily be avoided with a bit of planning and organisation.