Smart Living | Lifestyle

Lifestyle | 21 Feb 2023

Cost of living: How to keep your spending under control

Christmas may be long gone, but the bills keep flooding in and prices continue to rise. It might be time to put yourself on a financial detox and tighten that belt.

Some financial experts advise instigating a ‘no spend’ month, resolving only to spend cash on essential bills and food. This may sound like an extreme strategy, but incorporating at least some of these principles into your financial life could help stop those debts from mounting up.

Here are some top tips on how to curb your spending (all links are at the bottom of the page).

Make it a dry one

Dry January is often touted as way to improve your health while saving the pounds, so it’s worth extending it to other months.

“You’d be surprised how much money you save in a few weeks when you aren’t spending it on alcohol,” says John Stirzaker, consumer expert at Net Voucher Codes.

Matilda Littler, at Millennial Saver, says it isn’t just the alcohol price that you save when you go dry for a month, but also the cost of socialising in general.

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Take the five-item challenge

Food and toiletry shopping is a big expense for many of us, and costs are rising. If you do a big shop each week, or even each month, consumer champion Jane Hawkes, who runs the Lady Janey blog, suggests seeing if you can remove five items from your basket (whether online or physical) before you check out, to save cash.

“Needs and wants are very different,” she points out. “Put five items back at the end of each shop to help you ascertain which of your purchases fall into each category.”

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With sales seemingly a permanent fixture in our shops these days, it’s easy to get sucked in to buying ‘bargains’ that you don’t need, especially if your inbox is full of emails from favourite retailers offering discounts.

Jane Hawkes suggests unsubscribing from all these emails, to prevent temptation to spend.

“Email marketers are professionals in what they do, and understand the power of a new sale or exclusive coupon,” she says, adding that, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

While unsubscribing from these apps, consider trying Vinted – the second-hand online site that allows you to sell as well as buy. That way, if you’re tempted to buy an item while you’re out, you can check if you can get it cheaper second-hand. You can also sell your own unwanted goods to offset any purchases. As always, check if you really need the item before buying it either new or used.

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Transport yourself

If you need to travel to work or to shop, it is easy to see this as a fixed cost, but Olle Lind, founder and CEO of budgeting app Buddy, says that savers can challenge themselves to find another way of getting about.

“Transport can feel like a given expense. You may have been doing your commute the same way for months, years, or for some, decades,” he observes. “But it’s worth seeing if there are ways to switch it up.”

He suggests walking or cycling one day a week, if possible, or asking colleagues to consider a car share.

“As with everything, just experimenting a couple of times a week could really add up in the long run,” he says.

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Meal plan like a pro

It’s all too easy to default to a food delivery app. But resolving to plan meals, including packed lunches, can help save a fortune.

Olle Lind, at Buddy, says that the trick to making food prep palatable is to tweak it to fit your routine.

“Meal prep has a bad reputation. It’s seen as a chore, wasting Sunday afternoons slaving over huge bubbling pots,” he acknowledges. “It doesn’t have to be this way. Think about making double portion sizes to ensure no ingredients go to waste, or making sauces in advance.

“Not only is buying food in bulk cheaper, but knowing you have something quick and easy at home will often save you from that exhausted, post-work impulse to buy as you pass a supermarket.”

There are many apps to help you with meal planning, and the best ones for you will depend on whether you already have recipes you like, or want to try something new that an app can suggest.

Try Mealime, which includes grocery lists and recipes, or any other simple meal planner app that allows you to plan using your own favourites.

Cost of living: How Vodafone can support you in 2023

From low-cost broadband and mobile plans, to getting the most out of your current package, here’s how you can make the most of being with Vodafone.

Vodafone customer?

There are many ways you can keep your mobile and broadband connectivity costs under control, too.

Buying both as a Vodafone Together customer earns you a discount, and separating the cost of your airtime contract from the handset contract through Vodafone EVO flexible plans, can help you keep better control of costs and budget more efficiently.

You can also get a guaranteed trade-in price for your old phone when you want to upgrade, potentially saving you hundreds of pounds.

If you’re on benefits, Vodafone offers social tariffs for both mobile and broadband that are well worth checking out.

Learn more about how Vodafone can help you through the cost of living crisis.

Useful links

Net Voucher Codes

Lady Janey




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