Inflation is going up, there’s an energy crisis, and don’t even mention the worldwide problem that has been closing or downgrading businesses all over. Our money is starting to feel like sand in a sieve. How do we cope?
Well, there is a can do attitude that is taking over the next generation, which is hopeful to see, but in the meantime, there is a lot of little things that can be done to save money on your monthly expenses.
Save energy = save money
On top of all the crises mentioned above, we also have to deal with the climate crisis. Like a death by a thousand cuts to Mother Earth, each of our carbon footprints is doing substantial damage to the planet. The first step to resolving that is to use less energy.
There are a lot of things you can do here. Turn off any standby appliances, turn off the light when you leave a room, wash your clothes on a cooler cycle, etc. You’d be surprised how much you are actually saving when you do these things.
There are also bigger things you can do to preserve energy so that you don’t have to use so much. Insulation, for example, will stop heat from escaping out your windows. You can insulate lofts and basements, invest in double glazing on your windows, and replace your boiler or air conditioner with newer, more energy efficient, models.
Of course, in the age of advanced technology, there are a lot of devices that will do all these things for you. If you are a fan of gadgets you can look up a lot of smart devices that will monitor and reduce your energy usage in a number of ways.
For example, you can replace all your bulbs with LED smart lighting kits. The LED lights use less power, and the kit allows you to control them via your smartphone. You will be able to turn down the brightness and change the color, and it’s all handled remotely so if you forgot to turn them off before you left the house, you can turn them off with your phone. You can also add a motion detector which will turn on all the lights you program it to when you pass by.
Those new energy efficient boilers I mentioned will also likely include a smart thermostat, which you can invest in without the boiler. It will stabilize your heating system to a set temperature and can be controlled from your phone.
Plus, you can save yourself from going around pulling out plugs by investing in a few smart plugs. They plug into your usual socket but will shut off power to your plugged-in appliances with a timer. You can customize when it does or doesn’t allow power through your phone and find yourself trained to perhaps watch less TV late at night.
Redo your budget
Building your budget will allow you to see everything clearly. If you haven’t looked at it in a while you can redo your budget to reflect your current way of living. You can rethink subscriptions and direct debits, rework insurance policies and see where you can save money. Compare your written budget with what is actually coming out of your bank account. Collect all your data from the past few months into categories of food and fuel, etc. to see if there are areas where you are overdoing it.
If you have any debt, pay more. As counterproductive as that sounds, your debt will be collecting interest that will only grow. It’s in your best interest to get it paid off as soon as possible. You will soon find you have an extra chunk of money each month without that debt hanging over your head.
When you next look at your budget, pull out all your insurance files. Maybe it’s time to do some comparison shopping. Take a look at your current quotes and shop around for some more on comparison websites.
If you have more than one vehicle in the house, look into multi-car discounts. Their policies tend to amount to less than two individual policies to make it worth it.
For home insurance, consider installing a security system. Most homes come with a fire alarm built in so that will no longer help you when you mention it to your insurer, but you might want to look into a carbon dioxide detector and install a security system. If nothing else these things will keep you safe and therefore you could go longer without claiming. If you don’t claim you could build your no claims discount, saving you money. If something happens that needs covered, weigh up the cost against your no claims discount and consider covering the cost yourself.
Consider paying annually for any insurance policies or subscriptions you might have. Paying monthly might be more manageable but paying annually will be cheaper. For a middle ground, in case you feel out of pocket in a year’s time, you can put the monthly equivalent away in a savings account and pay it off at the end of the year.
Work from home
The thing that shall not be mentioned actually did a lot of workers a good favor. Team managers were forced to allow work to continue at home if they wanted work to continue at all, and so everyone logged in with their laptops and the Zoom meeting culture was born.
And, to everyone’s surprise, bosses and staff found they liked the idea, and there wasn’t much argument when businesses opened up again and people asked to stay working from home.
In particular, there was a give and take with money. Staff found that they were spending far less money on food and commuting, but more money on utilities, needing to power their laptop and heating for longer. For the most part, staff must have decided the extra money in utilities was worth it since there is evidence of businesses adjusting to life with workers at home. A lot more laptops have been bought, with stationary PC’s getting handed in, and office spaces are getting sold for smaller spaces.
So, consider putting a pitch together for your boss to allow you to work from home. If the job allows it, you can work at home and save money on commuting and food, while, according to surveys, enhancing your quality of life by saving time and improving your productivity. You can save money by not having to buy more work clothes that will need washed every week and forgo the gym membership since you will have more time to workout and therefore more options.
If you have kids, the biggest cost you’ll have to endure, besides Christmas, is probably childcare. If you are working from home, you will be able to look after your kids and work at the same time, allowing you to pull them out of daycare or after school care and perhaps avoid a hefty bill.
If you are already working from home, consider a few online tools to help you save money. You can download a phone system that operates over the internet, saving you a landline bill while offering video and phone calls.