Treating yourself is said to boost your mood and give you a buzz. These are definitely reasons as to why I have always enjoyed spending; whether it be on a nice evening meal or on some new clothes each season. Unfortunately, I am guilty of still wanting to spend my money, despite nowadays being far less wealthy than I once was. During my student days, I had a job as well as student loans, so I thought nothing of popping into the nearest shops in between lectures, buying something new and shiny.
It became something of a bad habit, and seeing as I always used to go with my best friend, we both enabled each other, and would usually treat ourselves to lunch as well. This is how I would define a change in mindset when it comes spending, and it's all to do with the word mentioned above; Habit. As I can admit, I developed bad spending habits, whether it was spending a little too much in Primark or treating myself to things on a weekly basis to the point where they weren't really treats anymore. But since my aspirations have changed, and long-term travel is now the goal, i have had to face my bad habits and change them. Now you too face this choice, of continuing with existing bad habits, or changing to new, positive habits, with the focus being saving for your travels.
So in Part 1 of the Spend Less Series, I discuss bad habits when it comes to spending on food, that are easy to fall into, and the steps I took to stop doing these things and haemorrhaging valuable pennies! The result was a significant reduction in my monthly spending, helping towards clearing my debts quicker, and saving up even more for my travels!
Bad habit 1:
Buying food throughout the week at the local convenience shop as opposed to setting aside the time to write a list and do just one weekly shop.
Now I am convinced this is something all the worst spending offenders would admit to, and why this is so bad is because the spending seems small at the time, but really adds up. Nipping into the shop also leads to impulse spending, especially when shops position lots of tempting goodies and deals right in the queue area, and us consumers fall for it every time! Unless you just avoid such shops in the first place. Set aside some time, maybe a sunday evening, and write out a list which contains only the things you actually need for that week; write down some meal ideas and then check your kitchen for ingredients, to ensure you don't buy duplicate products and waste pennies that way. Then use this list when you shop, try to move quickly around the store, trying not to linger too much, as this is when you might stray from the list and make impulse buys! I guarantee this will save you money on a weekly basis.
Bad habit 2:
Ordering takeaway's every weekend.
This all goes back to the idea of treats, and many of us associate our weekends with the time to let go a little bit, maybe loosening the diet, and then ordering a pizza or a Chinese or Indian meal. Well sorry to tell you (what you already know), but having this as a weekly thing, really is going to make a dent in your bank balance. I think people find it so easy to defend weekly takeaways because they want it so much, or tell themselves they do, and so mentally they write-off the cost of it and just enjoy it. This is fine, of course that is the definition of a treat, not really worrying over the price of something. But yet again this is where serious savings can be made. A typical Chinese or Indian meal could add up to £20, a pizza deal could add up to a slightly cheaper £10. So say you have a takeaway even just twice a month, that amounts to around £500 a year. Thats one expensive dinner! This also relates back to Bad Habit 1, whereby you may end up ordering a takeaway because you didn't take the time to plan your dinners for the week, and come 7pm that after a busy day, slumped on the sofa, that long-forgotten ready meal deep in the freezer sounds far less yummy than the pizza your friends are tucking into!
Bad habit 3:
Not making a packed lunch, because you left it too late or didn't buy enough food in your weekly food shop.
I used to be fall victim to this bad habit very often, and it was all down to my lack of preparation! Now I make packed lunches which have a lunch-time food as well as several snacks to keep me going. I understand why people fail to make a lunch, and I sometimes think people do it on purpose, because the food in the work canteen is just not going to measure up to your sandwich. I get it, we'd all like to dine like kings every day if we could, but purchasing a meal deal from a supermarket every day, for example, could cost £3 a time, so if you do this every day, you potentially spend £60 a month on lunch!! Thats £720 a year...
So what do I do to undo these bad habits and save money on food spending?:
TOP TIP 1:
Make a shopping list every week; stick to it, buy only what is listed, and buy the cheapest versions of things wherever you can.
TOP TIP 2:
Include treats in your weekly shop. If you know that you will be craving a cider by Wednesday, or a chocolate infusion by Friday, make sure you buy these when you do the weekly shop. As I said, those little trips to the local convenience store really do lead to excess impulse spending.
TOP TIP 3:
Limit yourself to one takeaway a month. Try to make your own version, or buy less expensive supermarket versions, of your favourite takeaway meals. That way you can still eat the foods you love on the weekend but you get rid of the luxury element associated with spending money on something which is delivered all cooked and ready to your door.
TOP TIP 4:
Make a balanced but tasty packed lunch each night before the working day.
TOP TIP 5:
Set yourself a weekly budget for food; this includes your takeaway if you choose to have one, as well as any treats or lunches or dinners. My figure is £30, I never go above this.
NOW, I realize, all these things will take time to become firm habits and behaviours that you will enjoy adhering to, but always remember what motivates you, each time you reach for the takeaway menu or decide on a Tesco trip at 10pm at night.
Thanks for reading :)
Hannah & Taran x