Autumn is officially here, and though many of us will be planning the busy lead-up to Christmas, there’s Halloween and Bonfire Night sandwiched in between now and then. In case you weren’t aware, October gives you five weekends to enjoy, but this means the budget has to stretch that little bit farther.
This can be a financial nightmare with many dipping into their savings pot, borrowing from friends or using some form of credit to get by. Instead of this extra stress, why not plan and find ways to make your money work that bit harder for you?
Make a few cutbacks
It’s getting colder so you’re likely to want to put the heating on, eat more hearty meals and may need a new coat or extra layers to keep you warm. This doesn’t mean you have to break the bank and dip into your savings or use credit to cover the long month ahead. Instead, it’s the perfect reason to rummage through the kitchen cupboards, open the larder and tidy the wardrobes and make use of everything you have already.
Turn the heating down
If the heating is on and especially if you’re on a meter, it’s better to turn it down a few degrees to save a few pounds. Only use the heating when you’re home and turn it off in any rooms you don’t use.
Tidy the wardrobes
Look through your wardrobes and dig out the thicker layers you haven’t worn since last winter. Don’t go out shopping for new stuff when there’s nothing wrong with what you have. Also, see what you could sell online on sites such as eBay and Gumtree. You might have old CDs, DVDs or toys you kept hidden that could fetch a nice earner - you may be surprised at what everday items could be worth.
What’s your monthly shop?
Most of us will work out our food budget out over a four week month. So for example, let’s say you have a grocery shop of £50 per week, your monthly spend will be £200 a month usually. But this month, you’ll need at least £250 in total to account for those extra weekend days. Look at what you’re spending and cut back any unnecessary costs and look at ways to get smarter with your cash.
In the kitchen
We’re all guilty of going on big supermarket shops and filling the cupboard or freezer up on staple foods. Tinned foods, breads, frozen vegetables are all great to stock up on when they’re on offer but not if you don’t use them. So look through all the cupboards, give them a tidy and plan how far these foods can stretch.
Though you’ll need fresh produce like milk, bread, fruit and veg, look to buy these when they’re on offer. Buy seasonal products as well – this brings the cost down. Plan meals that use up everything you have, including herbs and spices to add flavour, and don’t throw foods away. Don’t be afraid to experiment with dishes – you don’t have to follow a recipe exactly if some ingredients are missing, adapt it to suit you.
There are many useful sites online like Cooking on a Bootstrap with cheap meal recipes, or why not challenge yourself via Thrifty Lesley to make her meals for £1 – remember, the chefs on Ready Steady Cook have been making delicious meals out of a mix of ingredients for years, so just think outside the cupboard!
If you find it tough managing your budget, a thinkmoney Personal Account might be able to help you stay in control month on month. We’ll look at what you’re earning and outgoings to help you budget better and stay in the black.
The thinkmoney Personal Account has a monthly management fee of £17.50 or £24.50 for a joint account.