Many of us find at the end of the month that we ae down to the last few pennies in our accounts. Somehow, the money that we get into our accounts is nearly all evaporated by the time payday rolls around.
If this sounds like you then take solace in the fact that you are not alone. According to short term loan broker Growing Power - more than a third of Brits have to dip into their overdrafts in the week before payday. So why not take some positive action to try and break the cycle and follow our top tips below.
1. Walk or cycle
It's easy to forget just how much we spend on transportation, particularly in a big city.
Not only do walking and cycling save the environment, but they also save money. Even the initial down payment on a bicycle can be done with institutional assistance, via cycle schemes.
When living in a relatively central location, the choice to avoid crowded buses or delayed trains is a simple one to make. One can live by the old adage: "Anywhere is walking distance, if you have the time."
On top of this, you get a workout, which leads into our next point...
2. Workout at home
Staying in shape can be expensive.
Aside from bodybuilders, most people can workout at home with a fair amount of ease. Yoga classes? There are literally thousands available on YouTube. Weights and dumbbells? Body-weight fitness is an effective method of building muscle. Treadmill? Find a park, and jog in it.
An added benefit of working out at home is the convenience. How often have you found yourself sat on the sofa, debating whether or not you can be bothered getting dressed, packing your things, and physically going to the Pure Gym down the street? When your gym is your living room, your commute is suddenly under one minute, and you don't need to worry about looking presentable.
Gyms can feel like a luxury, particularly when living in an apartment necessitates low impact exercises. But when cutting costs, anything extraneous has to go, and a gym membership is near the top of that list.
3. Start meal prepping
It is standard money-saving advice to pack your own lunch. What stops many people from taking this advice is often twofold: time and skills.
This is where meal prep comes in.
Over the course of an hour on Saturday or Sunday, you can prepare your meals for an entire week. Chicken, fish, veggies, burgers - anything can be prepped, frozen, and then cooked in 10 minutes while you prepare for work in the morning. Suddenly, the cost of a £6 per day Pret a Manger habit is reduced to an average of £2 per meal.
This can also lead to more variety throughout the week, as you can add some spice to your own lunchtime life by preparing a variety of easy meals, instead of the same sandwich and packet of crisps.
4. Freshen up your accounts
Credit cards, energy suppliers, and even your phone can be optimised by switching to a different provider (or just threatening to do so). Competitors are always looking to lure new customers their way, and they're willing to pay for the pleasure of attracting your business.
New customers will have access to a range of exclusive benefits, most of which expire after a set time period - when it might be time to switch yet again. Often, people will accept paying higher rates simply because they don't want to go through the trouble of switching. By switching banks, for example, you could sacrifice a single lunch break and emerge with £175 from HSBC.
The same applies to energy providers, whose goal is to make the switching process as simple as possible for you. Even when ringing up your current provider to suggest switching, you can remember that you are the client. They don't want to see you go. If you play your cards right, you might hang up with the same provider, for a much better deal.
5. Pick up a side hustle
On one hand, it's unfortunate that we've normalised the existence of a capitalist system that requires us to secure additional streams of income in order to survive.
On the other hand, side hustles can be fun! By day, you might work a typical office job. But in the evenings and over the weekend, you could develop a small business that might eventually grow into a full-time dream job.
Side hustles usually start on a small, freelance basis. You could transcribe audio tapes from home, tutor university students in your degree subject, flip thrift store items on eBay, or hop onto a food delivery or rideshare app. With the internet at your disposal, there is almost no industry immune to side hustle penetration.
6. Make a budget
It might be the most obvious solution, but it's one that is often ignored. A spreadsheet and a calculator are all you need to make and manage your own personal budget. If you'd like to get more technical, there are also formulas that can breathe life into your spreadsheet. Enter how much you spent today, and in a flash, it will calculate how much you can spend each day for the rest of the month.
Many banks now offer services within their apps that track how much you spend each month, catching onto the overarching trend of budgeting apps. After a month or so of tracking, you can paint a clear picture of your expenditure and begin making changes. £300 on restaurants in January? Cut back on the sides and post-dinner cocktails, and you can easily halve that number.
Above all, be a conscious spender. The more you save now, the more you will appreciate it in the future.