Living on a budget

We have all, at one point, had to live on a budget. Whether you are trying to save up money, you’ve just moved into a new flat or you’ve started university, money might be tight. I will be taking the train to university and have to save money in order to buy the tickets. Having a goal when you’re trying to live on a budget is very important. It’s by no means necessary, but it makes living on a budget so much easier.

Saving up money and cutting costs here and there isn’t easy. Especially when you’re used to or enjoy spending money on things you enjoy. I know it was quite the adjustment for me. So here are a few things that have helped me keep my bank account balance higher. If you’re wanting to buy a flat, are moving to university or are just low on money, keep on reading!

Budget

It’s in the title and it’s the first step when it comes to living off less money: budgeting. You can organise this the way you want. Some have weekly budgets, others have monthly ones. You can keep count on your account or take out cash. Choose what works best for you and work from there. Then, figure out your spending categories. The most common ones (almost) everyone has are food and rent/bills. Especially the latter often requires the most money. Then, depending on your situation, you could need money for travelling, for uni/office supplies, takeaway, shopping, car insurance and fuel… Make a list of all the things that apply to you and that you need money for.

Now comes the fun part – said no one ever. Budgeting is all about figuring out how much money you need for each category and, where you can, cut costs. Do you really need to shop for new clothes twice a month or eat takeaway three times a week? It’s in cutting down these extra (unnecessary) costs that you will save money. The trick then is to not go over your budget. If you have a limit of £100 for food a week, do not go out for a meal when you’ve already spent £97. It’s all about practising self-discipline and trying to spend as little as you can – while still enjoying a meal out or a shopping trip here and there.

Limit what you buy

Avoiding to buy unnecessary things is the easiest way to save money. The less you buy, the less you spend. When living on a budget, not giving in to the temptation of buying things can be quite difficult. On those days where you find yourself aimlessly walking through TK Maxx or browsing through your favourite online shop, remind yourself of why you are trying to save money and hopefully it will be enough to bring you back.

A way to buy things while still saving money is by shopping more intelligently. Buying in bulk is often a good way to go, but always check the little price/kilo or price/unit on the price ticket. This will help you avoid falling for scam “value packs” that actually end up costing more than two or three normal packs. You can also buy certain items from cheaper brands. I’ve started buying Asda’s coconut toilet paper and it’s better than previous branded items I used to pay double the amount for!

Discounts

If you are a student, or have been, you will know all about student discounts. They are everywhere and are absolutely amazing. Download StudentBeans and Unidays, these will bring you loads of discounts and offers on many popular brands. Many public transport networks offer great deals for students and young people too! If you live in Scotland and are between 16 and 25 years old, get yourself a 16-25 Railcard that will save you a third on ticket prices for just £30 for a whole year!

You can find discounts in a lot of other places too. If you read magazines, there usually are a few discounts for different products inside. I’ve recently discovered that subscribing to newsletters from different websites will also get you discount codes. You could create an account with Honey (for free!) and they find discount codes for you when you shop online. Don’t ever shy away from trying to find a discount code, you will often find one and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your total reduce by 10% or more.

Charity shops and sales

Before living in the UK, I never went to charity shops. But they are very popular here. And you know what, charity shops are actually amazing. You’ll often find good pieces of clothing (sometimes from expensive brands) for a fraction of the original price. It’s mental! You can also find amazing homeware and even furniture! My flatmate and I got an incredible set of couch and armchair for £80! We also got a dining table with chairs for a very cheap price.

When you are trying to save money but are a bit of a shopaholic, sales will be your best friend. Buy out-of-season clothes (winter coats in the summer for example) and browse through all the big sales. You will find amazing things for way cheaper and both you and your bank account will be happy!

Meal prep

One of the biggest categories I spend my money on is food. I love eating and I’m in the shop almost every day to buy dinner. This adds up and you quickly find yourself spending so much money. The easiest way I found to deal with this is meal prepping. Do a bigger shop once or twice a week and buy things that can be used more than once (rice pasta, frozen veggies, etc). This will also stop your impulse buys every time you walk past the chocolate or crisps aisle. Don’t be ashamed, we’ve all been there!

When you are meal prepping, try to make meals that will last a couple of days. You can cook a big batch and then either refrigerate or freeze the rest. Try to also use ingredients that keep longer (to avoid wasting food and money!) and that you can buy in bigger packs. Rice and pasta will be your best friend. Multi-packs of canned tuna and eggs are also great if you’re wanting to add more protein to your diet. Buy salads that haven’t been washed and bagged because they are cheaper and also cut your own vegetables. All these little steps will save you a lot of money in the end!

Also, bring your own lunch and snacks to uni or work and don’t forget your travel mug to save money and the planet!

Savings

When deciding to start saving up money, you also have to decide how you’re going to do that. Some have jars that they put their leftover change in, others have piggy banks or you can go to an actual bank and open a savings account. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s the right way for you. You could have a jar in your room and every once in a while you lodge that money into your savings account.

When you are looking to open a savings account, just be sure to do your research. Just like with normal bank accounts, there are certain perks or certain costs that come with certain accounts. Be sure to find one with an interesting interest rate and that, if possible, doesn’t cost you any money. You can do research online, ask your friends and family or visit local banks to see what they can offer you.


These are all my tips for living on a budget. If you are trying to save up money for something and are reading this, you can do it! If you’ve got any tips of your own, please share them down below in the comments or comment them on my latest instagram post! And if you’ve read this far, thank you so, so much! It means the world to me. I hope you have a lovely week and I will see you next Sunday!

Yours truly,

Maeve

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