Whether you are frugal or frivolous, have few money worries, or are just getting by, everyone could probably benefit from paying a bit more attention to their outgoings and their savings.
By making even the smallest of changes, you could save a decent amount of money over the years.
Saving money where you can and making wise investment decisions could make your life a lot easier in your later years. If you want to take control of your money and work towards and more secure financial future, then read our 5 suggestions below.
They should help you to cut back, save, and be smarter with your money.
#1 Meal planning
Are you one of the thousands of people who have no idea what you intend to have for dinner every night? If the answer is yes, you should seriously consider meal planning. Not only will it save you time but it is likely to save you lots of money too.
There are various ways to meal plan, but one of the easiest is to write down what you want to eat each week then make a list of the supplies that you need to create the dishes.
If you are likely to have leftovers, try to incorporate them into the following day’s menu. Food waste is not only bad for the environment but is also a waste of money, so plan out your meals, use everything up, and you could see a big difference in your average grocery spend.
#2 Adjust or switch your mortgage terms
For most of us, our mortgage is our highest monthly outlay, so reducing it in any way could save you thousands over its lifetime. Depending on your situation, there are various ways to do this.
The first option is to overpay every month. Unless you have a standard variable rate mortgage, most lenders will cap the maximum overpayment allowed to around the 10% mark each year.
By overpaying, you will pay your mortgage off quicker and thus save a lot in interest. Another option is to reduce your mortgage term, which is a particularly good idea if you have lots of disposable income each month.
Your monthly payments will, of course, increase, but you will save thousands in the long run. If your current mortgage product is nearing its end, speak to a broker and find out what products are available.
Mortgage rates are at an all-time low at the moment, so you could make substantial savings by switching to a product with a far lower interest rate – just keep an eye on arrangement fees.
They can be hefty and sometimes are not worth paying if the rate offered is not hugely different from other products with no fee payable.
#3 Savings and investments
If you have savings, it’s worth reviewing them at least once a year to make sure you are getting the best return. Savings rates aren’t particularly great just now, but it’s still advisable to check whether you could be getting a better rate.
Fixed-term or notice accounts will usually pay slightly higher than those with instant access, so if you don’t need access to your money for some time, locking it away may yield a better return.
If you have substantial levels of savings and are looking for long-term investment opportunities, it’s worthwhile doing some research as this will very much depend on where you live.
Real estate may, for example, be considered one of the best investments in Canada at the moment, but that may not be the case if you live in the U.S or Europe.
From stocks and shares to automated investing, there are a host of different options, so it’s wise to take the time to find out what is best suited to your situation and location.
An independent financial advisor can help you with this, or there are many excellent resources online that will guide you in the right direction.
#4 Review your insurance
If you usually auto-renew your home or vehicle insurance – don’t! You might be surprised to learn that you could save hundreds every year by shopping around or haggling with your current provider.
Many insurance companies are aware that people don’t have the time or inclination to compare insurance premiums every year and so won’t necessarily offer existing customers the best deals.
The next time your insurance is due, use a comparison site to check the rates that other providers are offering for the same level of cover.
If you don’t want to switch providers, ring your current insurer, and ask them for their best rate. It will only take a few minutes, and they will more than likely offer you some form of discount.
When arranging auto insurance, bear in mind that your premiums will be affected based on your job title as well as where you will leave your vehicle overnight.
If, for example, you are a homemaker but state that you are unemployed, your premiums are likely to be higher, so play around with job titles to see if it makes a difference.
Similarly, if you currently leave your vehicle in your driveway, your premiums will be higher than if you park in your garage.
#5 Reduce your household expenses
There are lots of ways to reduce your household expenses, and you may be surprised at just how much you could save. You can save on electricity by making sure that lights and sockets are off when not in use.
Heating bills can be reduced by using thermal lined curtains, draft excluders, and having the heating set to go off when it reaches a set temperature.
If you usually drive everywhere, try walking instead where possible. Not only will it save money on gas, but it’s a great way to increase your daily exercise.
When shopping, look for products that are on offer and use coupons where you can. The individual savings may be minimal, but over a year, they will mount up.