We all want to save more, whether that’s for the future, for a special occasion or holiday, or even simply to have an emergency fund stashed ready for a rainy day. Sometimes the cost of living can make saving seem quite hard but there are ways to make it simpler.
Research carried out by Aviva last year showed that one-in-four families earned £1,500 or less a month and that those families had an average of £95 in savings. That’s not much if your boiler breaks down or you find yourself hit with an unexpected bill.
Without savings you risk having to turn to debt to pay for any emergencies. That’s why having some cash ready in an account is essential while saving towards goals like buying a home has even more obvious rewards.
So here are some easy ways to put cash aside without even feeling it.
1. Set up a direct debit
If you wait until the end of the month and save what you have left then the chances are you’ll hardly ever save a penny. But if you set up a payment to come straight out of your account on payday each month, and into a separate savings account, then you’ll soon get used to not spending it.
Perhaps you think you can’t afford to do that but even a tenner a month adds up to a small safety net over a year.
2. Use a clever app
Thanks tothere are many apps that can assess your regular spending and squirrel away small affordable amounts into your savings.
For example, the app Chip is designed for people who struggle to save. It’s free and compatible with most UK bank accounts. Once it’s connected to your online banking, the app gathers information on your spending and works out how much you can afford to save. It transfers regular small amounts that it believes are affordable into your savings – out of sight, out of mind.
There are lots of different apps that help you in similar ways, so it’s important to find the one that works best for you. After all, it’s no help if you accidentally go overdrawn – you need an app that fits your circumstances.
3. Save on your unnecessary spending
Did you know that most people could save hundreds of pounds a year simply by switching their car insurance and energy provider?
If you’ve auto-renewed an insurance policy, haven’t switched gas and electricity in more than a year and generally let your household bills roll on and on without checking them then there’s potentially a lot of money you could easily save.
A few minutes on a comparison website can really pay off, while setting aside a regular time to check over your bills can stop you overspending by hundreds of pounds a year. Switch and then funnel that money away and your savings will really grow.
You could also look for other daily savings. For example, by comparing the cost of your supermarket shop with the website MySupermarket and switching to a cheaper store you can typically save £10 or more on a week’s big shop. That could add up to more than £500 in savings over a year.
4. Make it fun
Money can be fun but saving doesn’t always feel like a fun thing to do. But there are ways to make it more enjoyable – you could pick a certain kind of coin and every time you get one add it to a pot (£2 coins are good for this). Just make sure you regularly add it to your savings or you risk spending it when you’re caught short for the window cleaner.
One of the most ridiculous but funniest ways to save was suggested by the website TopCashback.co.uk. They’ve worked out that the average person uses the toilet 7 times a day.
If they put 1p in a jar every time they did that, then over a year they’d have £255.50 stashed. Whatever weird way works for you, make yourself stick to it and the savings will really add up.
5. Save into an ISA
One way to save more is to simply make your money work harder. You can do that by saving into an ISA, which means your savings will produce higher returns compared to keeping them in a current account. That's because any interest you earn is yours to keep and the tax office can’t take a penny.
It’s a really straightforward way to make sure you’re protecting your savings in the future as well as the present, by securing them in a tax-free wrapper.
There are lots of different ISA accounts to choose from, so make sure to shop around to find one that suits you. If you think you’ll need to access your savings within the year, a cash ISA is a great option, though interest rates will be lower than a stock and shares ISA.
Different kinds of ISAs serve different purposes. A cash ISA is simply a savings account that’s protected from tax, while a stocks and shares ISA allows you to make investments and keep any returns where the tax office can’t touch them.
But there are also lifetime ISAs that help you save for your first home or retirement, innovative finance ISAs that let you invest in peer-to-peer lending and junior ISAs that help you save for children.
They are not at all complicated, they just need a bit of research to find the right one for you.