As we rapidly approach 2024, many people are starting to map out their new year's resolutions — one of the most popular being better financial habits and advanced planning. While this might sound ambitious, it doesn't have to be time-consuming or take up much mental energy. By taking a few simple steps, you can save a surprising amount of your money (and maybe even earn extra, with very little effort).
This article explores the top money-saving trends for the coming year, including practical advice you can start practising at home, when going to work and in your social life:
1. Be energy efficient in your home
Efficient energy use not only contributes to a healthier environment, but also trims down your monthly utility bills. Whether you live on your own, with a partner or family, or in shared accommodation, making small adjustments such as switching to energy-efficient light bulbs, using programmable thermostats, and turning off appliances when not in use can make a big difference when accumulated. Investing in smart home technology can also help you monitor and control energy consumption more effectively, putting you in charge of your utility costs. Below are a few tips for saving energy:
a. Smart meter installation:
Take advantage of government initiatives to provide smart meters to homes. These meters offer real-time insights into your energy consumption, helping you identify areas where you can cut back. Most major providers, such as Octopus Energy or OVO, will even offer to install these for free.
b. Energy-saving grants:
You can explore available grants and schemes for energy-efficient home improvements., where the government often provides financial assistance for initiatives like insulation upgrades and installing energy-efficient heating systems.
c. Switch to green energy providers:
Consider switching to energy providers that offer renewable energy options. Many providers in the UK specialise in green energy, contributing to a more sustainable future while potentially saving you money.
d. Cold weather tips:
During colder months, implement cost-effective measures such as using draught excluders, insulating windows, investing in heated blankets for bedtime, and utilising heavy curtains to retain heat. These small adjustments can significantly reduce heating costs.
e. Energy-efficient appliances:
When upgrading appliances, look for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label. These appliances meet high energy efficiency standards, helping you save on electricity bills over time.
2. Audit your subscriptions and monthly bills
Take a closer look at your monthly expenses by auditing subscriptions such as Netflix, gym memberships and other bills that might be sliding under the radar; you might be surprised by the number of memberships that you no longer use or need. Cancelling redundant subscriptions, negotiating with service providers for better rates, and opting for more cost-effective plans can yield substantial savings over time. Regularly reassessing your bills ensures that you're only paying for what you truly value.
Also, be aware of any new contracts you’re signing that have an auto-renew function for payments; these can often go unnoticed and add up to a hefty sum without much notice over time.
3. Earn a passive income by renting out your driveway
If you’re a homeowner, you can easily rent out your unused driveway through JustPark as a savvy way to generate passive income. This not only benefits those in need of parking but also puts extra cash in your pocket effortlessly. Plus, the first £1,000 you earn on the platform is completely tax-free.
Signing up is simple, and you can set your availability and pricing, making it a hassle-free way to turn your empty parking space into a steady stream of income. Plus, if you live near high-traffic areas like sports grounds or music venues, you can earn up to 57% more than others on the platform.
If you don't have a driveway, it doesn't mean you can't still save on regular parking expenses by up to 65% by booking ahead of time when going into the city centre, heading to the airport for the weekend or driving to the office.
4. Shop for deals — even on groceries and household items
Signing up for newsletters to your regular shops to look for deals, discounts and promotions, especially when it comes to groceries and household items like toilet roll, cleaning supplies and toiletries, can help keep bills down.
If you live near multiple shops, deal-hopping can also be an effective way to manage grocery bills without having to make too many sacrifices. Some shops will carry very affordable basics, such as canned goods and spices, whereas you might go to a more expensive shop for key items like meat, cheese or specialty foods.
5. Take on some DIY projects
Embrace the do-it-yourself mentality to cut down on expenses. From home repairs to crafting, many projects can be tackled without needing to hire a professional — especially with YouTube and TikTok there to help you along the way. Explore online tutorials and community workshops to enhance your skills. Not only does this save money on labour costs, but it also allows you to add a personal touch to your living space.
6. Start looking for second-hand hidden gems
Charity shops and apps that allow the re-sale of used clothing like Vinted and Depop often hold treasures waiting to be discovered. Consider shopping for clothing, furniture, and household items in-person or on other services like Facebook Marketplace. You'll find unique items at a fraction of the cost, contributing to both your savings and you can feel better about the fact you’re being a more sustainable consumer.
7. Plan your meals ahead of time
By preparing a weekly menu, you can create a shopping list with only the necessary ingredients, reducing food waste and impulse purchases. Batch cooking and freezing meals in advance can also save time and money on daily dining expenses. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to takeaway or a nice dinner out on the weekend; it’s about cutting out unplanned costs.
If you’re not a confident cook, you can start by using meal kit services like Mindful Chef, who often offer discount codes for first-time users. Beware though, these aren’t the most cost-effective in the long-run and only contain enough ingredients to make that single recipe; investing in basic spices and kitchen staples can extend your budget by a lot.
8. Learn more about investing basics
Understanding the basics of investing can be a game-changer for your financial future. Take the time to educate yourself on investment options, risk management, and long-term financial planning. Whether you start with a simple savings account or explore low-risk investment opportunities, the knowledge gained will empower you to make informed decisions about growing your wealth over time.
You can browse the below apps and websites to help inform your financial planning:
- The Motley Fool - A well-known financial education platform providing investment advice, stock market analysis, and educational content to help individuals make smarter financial decisions.
- MoneySavingExpert - Find tips and guides on various financial topics, including budgeting, saving money, and finding the best deals.
- Nutmeg - This robo-advisor offers investment services, including goal-based investing and pension planning, with educational tools built-in and a low starting threshold which is great for beginners.
- Most major banks will have their own investment guides and will have representatives available to walk you through their products and account options
9. Benefit from being a loyal customer to your favourite shops
Many retailers offer loyalty programs that provide exclusive discounts, rewards, and access to special promotions. Whether it's your local grocery store or favourite clothing brand, being a loyal customer can translate into significant savings over time. Keep an eye on loyalty perks and take advantage of the benefits offered by the businesses you frequent. A few of the most popular loyalty programs you can take advantage of are: Tesco Clubcard, Boots Advantage Card, Pret Subscription, H&M Membership, Starbucks app rewards and more.