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5 Easy Ways To Start Saving
Saving is a great way to afford larger purchases like a holiday or a deposit on your first home, but saving can also help to protect you against a financial emergency. Having money set aside would help you to avoid debt, reduce financial stress and give you a greater sense of financial freedom.
We complied 5 easy ways to start saving money, from adjusting daily habits, to cutting down on monthly bills and making long-term changes.
- Set up a budgeting app
Budgeting apps are a great way to keep track of your bank accounts on the go, they provide you with the facts and figures of your personal finances and help you to make more informed decisions about your money. Getting started is easy, but finding the right app for you is important, so it’s a good idea to try a few out. Some well-known, safe budgeting apps include: Money Dashboard, Yolt, Cleo and plenty more.
- Prep for grocery shopping
Another way you can start saving money is by changing the way you shop. You could try planning out your meals for the week before you go shopping. By planning ahead, you can change your shopping list based on the things you already have, what you still need and what’s on sale. Doing this can save you time and money, especially when you consider that the average British family throws a meals worth of food away every day, costing almost £60 a month. (£720 per year)
- Stop Impulse Buying
Impulse buying is easier to fall into than ever, with constant ads on social media and the simplicity of online shopping, it’s no wonder more people are losing their money to things that they don’t need or necessarily want.
Before making a purchase, ask yourself, “is this a want or a need? Can I afford it without any debt? Can it wait a month? Will it go on sale? Can I live without it? How will it affect my life?”
- Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
Go through all your subscriptions and work out which ones you can do without, this includes services like Amazon, Netflix, NowTV and mobile apps. It’s nice to have a few of these subscriptions, but do you really need all of them? Cancelling or downgrading a few that you don’t need or use could save you money every month.
- Set a savings goal
Finally, setting a goal. Are you saving for a holiday? New car? Or just putting some money aside for a rainy day? It’s good to have an idea of what the money is going towards. People who have a specific savings goal typically save quicker than people who don’t, and they save £550 more on average! So it’s a good idea to have a think about what you’re saving for and put it into a separate savings account.
Welcome back to Financial Friday. Today I am going to discuss how to buy good food on a budget. Food shopping can be one of the biggest weekly expenses in a household and due to the tactics of supermarkets, we can end up getting way more than we need, or paying more than we need to.
Here is a list of 20 top tips to help you save those precious pennies!
Write a shopping list ✍🏻
Draw up a weekly meal plan using up ingredients you already have and make a shopping list of any missing items. When shopping, stick to the list as best you can as this will hopefully mean that there is no need for a mid-week top-up shop where more money is spent.
Try not to shop when hungry. People who shop when hungry are more likely to spend more, especially on less healthy foods, such as high-fat and sugary snacks.
2.Waste nothing ♻
The average family with children throws away almost £60 of good food every month. Be strict about buying only what you’ll actually eat.
Plan your meals so all the ingredients on your list get used. Freeze any unused food. Food storage bags and boxes will come in handy.
3. Eat Leftovers 🥪
Cook extra portions for your evening meal so you can have the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Any leftovers can be frozen for another day. Eventually, you’ll have a freezer full of homemade ready meals on tap.
4. Buy frozen 🧊
Frozen fruit and vegetables are underrated. They come pre-chopped and ready to use, are just as good for you (try to avoid those with added salt, sugar or fat), and are often cheaper than fresh varieties.
Frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of freshness and then frozen to seal in their nutrients.
5. Try cheaper brands 🤷♀️
You could save money by buying cheaper brands than you normally do.
There’s not always much difference between value and premium ranges. Give it a go and let your taste buds be the judge, not the shiny label.
6. Eat more veg 🥕
Meat and fish are typically the most expensive food ingredients on a shopping list.
How about adding vegetables to meat dishes like casseroles to make your meals go further? Or try a few vegetarian meals during the week to keep costs down.
Make it fun by joining the thousands of people who regularly take part in meat-free Monday.
7. Cook with pulses 🌾
Pulses, such as beans, lentils and peas, are some of the cheapest foods on the supermarket shelf.
These pulses are low in calories and fat but packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals, and also count towards your 5 A Day.
Use them in dishes to replace some of the chicken or meat, such as a chilli con carne with kidney beans or a chicken curry with chickpeas.
8. Freeze leftover bread 🍞
Bread is one of the most wasted household foods. Reduce waste by freezing bread, preferably in portions (for convenience) and when it’s at its freshest (for taste).
Store bread in an airtight container (such as a freezer bag) to avoid freezer burn.
9. Know your kitchen 🥫
Know what’s in your kitchen store cupboard, fridge and freezer. You may find you have got enough ingredients to make a meal.
Plan your week’s meals to include ingredients you have already got in and avoid buying items you already have.
Check use-by dates to make sure you use up ingredients before they go off.
10. Buy cheaper cuts 🍖
If you’re prepared to take a little more time with your cooking, buying cheaper cuts of meat is a great way to save money.
Choosing a cheaper cut of meat, such as braising steak, shin or shoulder, does not mean missing out on a tasty meal.
Slow cooking gradually breaks down the fibres in cheaper cuts, giving great taste at a lower cost.
11. Look up cheap recipes 🧾
Cheap does not have to mean less tasty. There are plenty of websites offering recipes for cheap eats and leftover ingredients.
Check out Change4Life’s healthy recipes for some inspiration and easy meal ideas.
12. Eat smaller portions ⚖
Try eating smaller portions by saying no to a second helping or using smaller plates.
You’ll have more left over for lunch the next day and your waistline may benefit, too.
Try weighing or measuring out staples such as pasta and rice when cooking to stay in control of portion size and reduce waste.
13. Cook from scratch 👩🍳
Save money by cutting back on takeaways. Preparing and cooking your own meals is generally cheaper than buying a takeaway or a ready meal, and because it’s easier to control what goes into your dish, it can be healthier.
14. Buy chicken whole 🍗
The cheapest way to buy chicken is to buy a whole chicken. From a whole chicken, you’ll get 2 breasts, 2 thighs, drumsticks and wings, plus a carcass for making stock.
Consider using the deli counter for cheese and cured meats. You can get exact amounts, which is cheaper and less wasteful.
15. Compare pre-packed with loose 🍌
Fruit and vegetables sometimes cost more pre-packed than loose.
Check the price per weight (for example, £/kg). Stores know that consumers want to buy in bulk, so they mix it up: sometimes the packed produce is cheaper, sometimes it’s more expensive.
Also, pre-packed is not always the freshest and you may end up with more than you need.
16. Cut down on luxuries 🤑
If your regular shopping basket tends to include fizzy drinks, crisps, snack bars, biscuits and cakes, try trimming down on these non-essential items.
Many of these are high in sugar and fat, so you’ll be doing your waistline and your bottom line a favour. They can also contain a lot of salt.
Think about cheaper and healthier alternatives, such as sparkling water and fruit juice instead of cola, or fruit and plain yoghurt.
17. Beware of BOGOF offers ⚡
Special discounts, such as buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) deals, can offer good value, but be careful.
Only buy items you actually need and are likely to keep and use. Tinned or frozen fruit and veg, or rice and pasta, are good examples.
Markdowns on perishables at the end of the shopping day are another way to bag a saving.
But make sure the item gets used before the use-by date and does not go off sooner than expected.
18. Toddlers eat the same 🚼
If you have a toddler in tow, get them used to eating the same meals as you instead of relying on costly pre-prepared toddler food.
Simply blend or chop up their portion to suit their age and freeze extra child-sized portions for later.
Make sure not to add any salt to their portions, and be careful with spicy food.
19. Shop online 💻
Search for supermarket price comparisons that let you select a basket of products and then choose the cheapest supplier. The price differences can be significant.
Unlike going to the shops yourself, you’ll know how much you have spent before going to the till, which can make it easier to stay within budget.
20. Shop during the ‘happy hour’ ⏰
Most supermarkets discount fresh items towards the end of the day.
But with longer opening hours, it’s a case of finding out just the right time to grab those bargains.
If you time it right, the “reduced to clear shelves” can save you big money. Always check use-by dates.
We hope you will save some money using these tips. Let us know how you get on!
Good Luck and Happy Saving!! 💰💰
Team ACDI 🌈
Today’s Financial Friday is focused on the second step to being in control of your money this year….. Budgeting!
Here at ACDI, we always suggest using a budget as this is an easy way to see money coming in, money being paid out and what money is left. Using a budget is also beneficial when you are saving for something specific or trying to get rid of debt.
- When making a budget, be honest with yourself! (Even budget in the daily coffee or cake!)
- Allow your budget to be flexible, don’t feel like any decisions you make are final, finances are constantly changing.
- Take time to really think about your money – most issues arise when you avoid taking action.
- Ask for help!
If you feel like you are ready to make a budget but may get overwhelmed, give one of our advisers a call on 07555060664 📞
To get started on creating your own free personalised online budget, follow the link below!
Good Luck! 🤞
Happy New Year All, and welcome to our first installment of ACDI’s ‘Financial Fridays’.
This month I will be discussing how you can get one step ahead with your finances this year.
Do a credit check!
A credit score check is an easy way to see how banks or loan companies see you when you apply for a loan or mortgage. It is vital to see any money that is owed, and who it is owed to as this can allow you to budget each month how you will pay it back.
At ACDI use Clear Score, however there are many websites who do similar things.
Follow the link above, create an account and start your credit check.
Team ACDI 💰
A few new grants have been released by the Scottish Government in the past few weeks to assist those in need over the festive season.
If your child is eligible for Free School Meals then you may be entitled to the new Winter Hardship Fund (£100 per child). Follow the link below for more information:
I hope that our blog this year have been helpful and we look forward to continuing these in the new year.
If you are feeling uneasy about the festive period this year, have a read at our wellbeing blog for helpful tips and tricks to having a happier healthier life.
Thank you all for reading our blog, have a very Merry Christmas and we will be back in 2021!
ACDI have teamed up with Money Advice Service to provide you with access to their fantastic resources to help you get in control of your money.
As a first step, we advise that you follow the link below to a Money Health Check. This identifies areas of your finances which may need more attention or assistance and you will then be given tailored advice for your specific situation.
If you are worried about your finances, give a member of our team a call.
Remember, the first step to fixing your issues is identifying them.
Don’t let scammers catch you out this winter!
Scams are a bigger issue than ever now with most financial transactions taking place online. Keep your money and personal details safe online by being extra vigilant when receiving emails, pop ups or adverts. Here are a few tips to help you spot a fake:
- Check the logo – any genuine company will have a logo on their emails, so if you don’t see one be very careful. Some clever scammers use very similar logos in hopes of impersonating a brand, do a google search for the real logo to check the colours and shapes are correct.
- Don’t disclose bank details – If an email is asking you to send your account details, do not do it. If they are claiming to be a company you use, call the company direct and ask if they have sent the email.
- Check the email address – Always check the email address of the sender. Most large companies have their own email address domain, so if you see a “gmail”, “hotmail”, “yahoo” or other similar email address from a large company such as Tesco or Santander, it is probably a scam!
- Check the grammar – If the grammar or spelling is poor, this should ring alarm bells. Genuine emails will be checked thoroughly before being sent to you.
- Don’t click the link – If the email states that you MUST click the link provided, be wary of this. Clicking on a link can allow scammers access to your device which could in turn mean stealing your data. If you feel pushed into making a decision or taking an action, you may be the victim of a scam.
If you think you have received a scam email, phone the company that the email is from to check it is genuine, or if you do not recognise the brand or sender, delete the email straight away.
Stay safe and don’t fall into the traps!
If you want to get ahead with your Christmas shopping, Friday 27th November 2020 is your day! In America, the Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday”, this is when most people would take a sick day from work to get a 4 day weekend! In more recent years it has spread worldwide as a day of sales in the most popular shops. (And a great opportunity to grab early Christmas deals!)
As Black Friday is only one day, I have a few tips to help you navigate it and secure a bargain!
Tips for Black Friday:
- Shop online as stores are stocking less this year.
- Have a list of things you would like to buy.
- Put things in your online basket/wish list beforehand and keep watching on 27th Nov.
- Sign up to mailing lists to get exclusive deals.
- Start early! (6am is when sites are quietest and less likely to crash)
A few shops such as Argos and Amazon have started their sale early so check them out.
The most anticipated Black Friday sales this year are from Very, Boots, AO, John Lewis and Currys/PC World.
It may feel too early to say the “C” word, but if you want to have a stress free festive season planning early is the key!
Money Advice Service’s Christmas Money Planner helps you to see what money you have, what you can save and what you plan to spend allowing you to control the pennies instead of them controlling you!!
The Money Planner asks you what money you currently have set aside and what you will be able to save each day on the run up to Christmas. You are then asked to input your usual spend on presents, outfits, nights out, decorations etc. and the website calculates whether you will have enough money saved.
Follow the link to calculate your Christmas spend!
Are your children attending the new super-school? Are you struggling with dinner money and uniform costs?
You have come to the right place!
East Ayrshire Council have grants to help low income families with the costs of their school child’s food and clothing.
Free School Meals
All children from primary 1 to primary 3 are granted free school meals however afterwards you must apply and meet certain criteria.
If you are accepted for free school meals, a weekly allowance will be paid into your child’s ParentPay account. This will cover a standard two course meal daily.
You are eligible for free school meals if you currently claim any of the benefits listed below:
- Income Support
- Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
- Employment and Support Allowance (income based)
- Universal Credit (take home pay is not more than £610 per month)
- Child Tax Credit only – annual income less than £16,105
- Working Tax Credit and Child Tax credit – annual income less than £7,330
- Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
If you meet the criteria shown below, you will be entitled to a once yearly payment of £120 per child to cover school clothing costs.
(If your child is intending to stay on after fourth year any award will not be paid until they return in August.)
You are eligible for a clothing grant if you currently claim any of the benefits listed below:
- Income support
- Job Seekers Allowance (income based)
- Employment and Support Allowance (income related)
- Universal Credit (take home pay is not more than £610 per month)
- Working Tax Credit – annual income less than £15,276
- Child Tax Credit only – annual income less than £16,105
- Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit – annual income less than £7,330
- Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction
For more information and to apply online for Free School Meals or a Clothing Grant visit:
On 5th November, the Veteran Railcard Scheme will launch. If you have served for at least one day in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces (Regular or Reserve) or have been a Merchant Mariner who has seen duty on legally defined military operations, you may be eligible.
The Veterans Railcard grants you 30% off of your normal ticket price, allowing you to get from A to B at a fraction of the price.
The Veterans Railcard is on sale for an introductory price of just £21 for one year, until 31 March 2021. That’s a saving of £9 on the normal retail price of £30.
A 3-year Railcard is also available for an introductory price of just £61, if purchased before 31 March 2021, instead of the normal retail price of £70.
Like our other Railcards, the Veterans Railcard offers savings of 1/3 on rail travel, whether your are visiting family and friends or simply enjoying a day out.
You can also nominate a companion to get 1/3 off when travelling with you and up to 4 children travelling with you get 60% off. – Veterans-railcard.co.uk
Think you’re entitled to the Veterans Railcard? Click the link to find out more and purchase yours!
Not eligible for this one? Here is a list of other railcards on offer:
Two Together Railcard – With a Two Together Railcard you can enjoy savings of 1/3 on fares across the UK, for any two named people aged 16 or over who travel together.
Disabled Persons Railcard – You can save 1/3 on fares across Britain for you and a companion with a Disabled Persons Railcard.
16-25 Railcard – If you’re aged 16-25 or are studying full time, you can get 1/3 off all train travel for just £30 a year.
26-30 Railcard – The 26 – 30 Railcard may have only been around for a short time but it’s already helping millennials save big on rail travel. For just £30 a year, the railcard can save you 1/3 on rail travel.
Family & Friends Railcard – For £30 a year, you can get 1/3 off train travel for up to four adults and 60% off for up to four kids.
Senior Railcard – If you’re over 60 you can save 1/3 on your train fares with a Senior Railcard.
Young Scot National Entitlement Card – If you’re aged 16-18 and have a Young Scot National Entitlement Card, you can get fantastic discounts on your train travel in Scotland. This includes 1/3 off most rail fares and 50% off weekly and monthly tickets.
Highland Railcard – A Highland Railcard can save you 50% on selected routes. When you use it, up to two kids can travel for a flat fare of only £2 return each.
The Highland Railcard is only available on selected routes for people living in selected postcodes.
For information on Accessible Transport in East Ayrshire, follow the link:
Take care and travel safe!
Have you been forced to work from home due to the coronavirus? Are your electricity bills going through the roof?
You could be entitled to tax relief.
At the beginning of October, HMRC launched a new scheme which allows people who have had to work from home due to the Coronavirus to claim tax relief for the costs incurred while working from home (e.g. broadband costs, higher electricity and heating bills).
How much you are able to claim is explained below by UK Government:
“You can either claim tax relief on:
- £6 a week from 6 April 2020 (for previous tax years the rate is £4 a week) – you will not need to keep evidence of your extra costs
- the exact amount of extra costs you’ve incurred above the weekly amount – you’ll need evidence such as receipts, bills or contracts
You’ll get tax relief based on the rate at which you pay tax. For example, if you pay the 20% basic rate of tax and claim tax relief on £6 a week you would get £1.20 per week in tax relief (20% of £6).” – www.gov.uk
What you will need to apply:
- Your National Insurance Number
- A payslip, P60 or Passport
Follow the link to apply now: https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home
Any queries, please get in touch.
Hello and welcome to Money Blog.
This blog will provide essential up-to-date information regarding benefits and money saving tips.
The team at ACDI are adapting to the “new normal” and using our online platforms more than ever to share information and help the local community with any issues that they are facing.
At the bottom of the blog, you will be given the option to send us a message – please feel free to use this to ask for advice or give us feedback.
Stay safe and take care,
Team ACDI 😊