Savings tips to help you plan for the future

Saving for the future is not always simple, especially during uncertain times. The coronavirus pandemic has shown that unexpected events can often cause challenges for our finances. This makes building up our financial security even more important.

Saving can be tricky at first but by changing certain habits and behaviours, and by setting yourself targets each month, you can quickly start to grow your money.

Here are some simple ways to build your savings.

Review your household bills

According to energy switching service Flipper, UK householders spend on average £37,331 too much on utilities and insurance in their lifetime. In other words, there could be huge savings to be made on your own household bills.

The good news is that there are now more ways than ever to check that we’re on the best deals and tariffs. Use comparison tools to check everything from utilities and food shopping to broadband, phone and insurance bills, or look at whether you would benefit from using an automatic switching service.

Within the home there are plenty of measures you can take too, such as using energy saving light bulbs to reduce your energy consumption and save money on your bills.

Reduce your debts quicker

Effective debt management can be an important way of saving more money. Remember that if you only make the minimum payment on your credit card each month, it will take you longer and cost you more in the long run.

If you’re able to increase your monthly payments, this will help to pay off your balance quicker, and reduce the overall cost of borrowing. Where possible, you may also be able to make additional ‘over’ payments on a loan or mortgage so that you can pay off your debts quicker.

Check with your loan provider first to understand what options are available and how to best go about this. We have lots of information and resources if you are looking for debt advice and support.

Save money, and go greener

Making more use of second-hand shops is good for the environment, and good for your disposable income too. Every week 13 million items of clothing end up in UK landfill, but by shopping second hand you can help to reduce waste and find great bargains in the process. The money you save can go straight into your savings account.

You could even support campaigns by charities like Oxfam, which include encouraging people to only shop second hand for one month. At The Co-operative Bank our colleagues have got involved in supporting such campaigns whilst raising money for Oxfam and its fight against poverty.

Set yourself a savings challenge

Get creative by finding new ways of saving money. For example, you could have a ‘no spend’ weekend each month, where you decide not to spend anything on non-essential items. Put a calendar on the wall, mark up your ‘no spend’ weekend with a highlighter pen, and then make sure you stick to the rule.

You may find your savings quickly add up if you’re not spending money for just a couple of days each month. You could also try the 52 week savings challenge. This involves saving £1 in week one, then £2 in week two and so on. You keep going through the rest of the year, adding £1 to your saving amount each week, until you’re saving £52 by week 52.

This takes plenty of discipline, but it should become easier as you discover new ways to save throughout the year. And by the end of the year you will have saved a total of £1,378.

Cancel those unused subscriptions

Do you pay full price for a streaming subscription, yet only watch the odd film now and then? Or pay monthly prices for a music service but never listen to the latest tracks? Cancelling subscription services you rarely use is a quick win when it comes to saving money each month. Just make sure you check the terms and conditions first in case there are cancellation charges.

According to research by Barclaycard Payments, Brits spend an average of £46 per month on subscriptions (£552 per year), and our subscription use has grown since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Rationalising all of our many subscriptions and membership packages is one way of finding monthly savings.

Buy a reusable coffee cup

If you’re a frequent coffee or tea drinker, investing in a reusable cup is an immediate money saver. Rather than buying expensive brews from high street outlets, you can make your own and take it with you. Even if you still fancy a trip to the local café, many outlets offer a discount when you bring your own cup.

According to a 2018 Environmental Audit Committee report, 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away in the UK each year. Using a reusable cup is therefore another way of reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill too.

Make do and mend

More people are recycling and upcycling everyday items to help save money – and live greener lifestyles. This can be as simple as keeping clothes for longer, stitching and mending where necessary. You could do the same with furniture too, by restoring items rather than buying new.

Not only will this reduce the amount of waste you throw away to landfill, it will also allow you to save money on new purchases. These additional funds can then go straight into your savings pot.