New year, new you. You know the drill. It’s that time of year again, when everyone jumps on the bandwagon of self-improvement, whether that be physical, emotional, intellectual, financial… With Brexit on the horizon and gloomy financial forecasts dominating the headlines, it’s never been a better time to take a step back and think about your spending habits. Here’s a list of five steps you can take to have a thriftier 2019!
1) Shop around for cheaper options when booking travel online
Travel can take a huge chunk out of your budget, but have you explored all your options? Train tickets are notoriously expensive, but by buying train tickets ahead of time and at off-peak (or even super off-peak) times on Trainline, I can get to London Euston and back for under £20. What’s the catch? The train is slow, taking around an hour and 40 minutes to get to Euston. But for me, that extra 40 minutes on the train is worth it for the massive financial savings it enables me to make. What’s more, I can put that time to good use by working on essays on the train.
2) Go veggie for one day a week
Vegetarianism is becoming increasingly popular, primarily due to concerns about the health and environmental impacts of an omnivorous diet. And it can also be a way of saving money. But in spite of all of vegetarianism’s benefits, there are still many who remain attached to meat.
If you want to cut back on meat but don’t think you can commit to a fully vegetarian diet, consider going veggie one or two days a week. The main reason why people don’t stick to their New Year’s Resolutions is that they’re overambitious. So if you’re an omnivore who knows in their heart of hearts that transforming their whole diet is an unrealistic goal, try resolving to reduce your meat intake rather than eliminate it entirely. You’ll likely reap more financial rewards than if you cut out meat, cold turkey (excuse the pun), only to binge on McDonald’s a few days later.
3) Make Poundland your best friend
Before I started university, I didn’t realise quite how brilliant Poundland is – it’s the home of many great savings on food, cosmetics, and more. It’s particularly brilliant for buying multipacks of snacks for parties, as well as everyday items like instant noodles and cereal bars — a nice find recently was a four-pack of Nature Valley almond butter cereal Bars, which would have set me back £2.89 at ASDA!
Poundland is more hit-and-miss when it comes to cosmetics, but as someone who spends a considerable amount of money on beauty products, I’ve found it worthwhile to explore what the store has to offer, and have found some steals. Don’t get me wrong, I love luxury brands, but Poundland’s Makeup Gallery liquid lipstick, for example, is genuinely good (read the online reviews if you don’t believe me), with a strong pigment and a moisturizing, pleasant-smelling formula that isn’t watery. And if you don’t trust Poundland’s own brand, they also sell some brand items, such as Rimmel nail polishes.
4) Use a price comparison website to check if you could be saving on household bills
It’s common for consumers to stick with what they know when it comes to utilities, opting for well-known energy companies such as British Gas, and understandably so — If you’ve got a lot on your plate, changing gas companies is probably the last thing on your mind. But if you’re worried about money, changing companies is a way of saving money without giving up any creature comforts. More obscure providers can be surprising sources of savings. Bulb, for example, is an eco-friendly provider that’s been described as one of the cheapest suppliers in the UK and is well worth checking out.
5) Buy more clothes secondhand
When it comes to cheap clothes, Primark is often what people think of first. While I enjoy Primark as much as any bargain hunter, its clothes are often poor quality. If you want clothes that actually last but you don’t have much money to spare, an underrated option is buying secondhand from eBay. Although eBay is most commonly associated with bid wars, there’s a great selection of clothing available to buy immediately without the stress of bidding. Many unworn and barely worn items are available from brands out of the range of a student budget (e.g. Topshop) at Primark prices. Charity shops are also good if you want decent quality clothes at affordable prices, and Coventry and Leamington Spa are both full of them.