Benefits come in all different shapes and sizes, but the main aim of them is to ensure the sufficient financial stability of you and your family. You are probably already aware, but to those that may be new to the process, benefits come in the following forms:
- Income based job-Seekers Allowance
- Working Tax Credit
- Income Support
- Child Tax Credits
- Working tax credit
- Housing Benefit
Soon enough, these benefits are going to be scrapped, and replaced with something new with a posh name and all: Universal Credit. If you are claiming benefits, you will have been told when ‘the big switch’ will affect you (and it’s not as bad as it sounds). With changes in benefit comes changes in budget, but we’re going to show you how to make the most out of your new payment method. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, Universal Credit will now be received as a monthly payment, so if you are used to a weekly payment, you may be panicking about how you are going to budget wisely. This is where I am here to help. You may not know it yet – but a monthly payment may be your blessing in disguise and might just get you on the road to saving for that summer holiday you have needed for years. There are places online to check how much Universal Credit you will be entitled to, so you know exactly what you are working with.
1 – Get Organised
First things first, know what you are inevitably paying out. By inevitably, I mean things like bills, council tax and rent. Take these amounts away immediately from your incoming money, so you know what you are left with to spend. By working your money step by step you can spot any windows of opportunity you might have to put some away.
2 – Feeding the Kids, Yourself, or Both
Next comes the food shop. You are likely to know roughly, or even exactly how much you spend on a weekly shop, so let’s see if we can reduce that a bit. Food wastage is a big thing, and also a massive drain on your income, with the average household throwing away around £35 of food a month. Let’s get that £35 out of the bin and into your holiday fund. Even if you only save a tiny amount per shop – every little helps.
3 – Writing your Shopping List
This entire post is all about getting organised as this is the top way of saving money. What better way to be organised than to write your shopping list? Set aside five minutes to write down all of the things you will need for the week, if you want to go that extra step further, you can even plan your meals. Shopping with a list in hand will prevent you from chucking any old thing in the trolley that will neither get used nor eaten.
On the List:
- Including frozen foods such as frozen fruit and veg can help save you some mega bucks. Frozen foods are definitely surrounded by some sort of bad stigma, but definitely don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Frozen fruit and veg have all the goodness of the regular stuff, just pre-chopped. Defrosting is super easy and a little can go a long way.
- Lentils, chickpeas, Kidney Beans – these are super cheap and can really make your meals go further. A meat and veg dish with added lentils will make for a bigger, heartier meal. Make more than you will eat in the evening, and then make lunch out of the leftovers – killing two birds with one stone whilst saving money? Winner.
- Checking the dates when you buy can stop you having to throw away things that you won’t eat because it’s gone off. When buying in a supermarket, the same product will often come in a range of sell by dates, so make sure you check you are getting the most out of what you’re spending. What if something is going off that you don’t have time to eat? If you know things aren’t going to get eaten in time for their use-by, freeze it, you can defrost it at another time rather than binning it.
4 – Have a Clear Out
Have things you no longer wear or need? As long as they are in a decent condition, often clothes, kid’s toys and furniture can sell for a reasonable price on auction sites such as Ebay. This is an easy way to make money and have a clear out at the same time. If things are a bit shabbier or maybe a bit dated why not try hauling it all to a car boot sale? Again, throw the money you make into your savings. Now we are seeing it start to grow.
5 – Open a Savings Account
If you haven’t already, opening a savings account is a great way of storing any spare cash safely. On most online banking sites, you can easily transfer money between your savings account and your current account, so if for example, you do a food shop that costs less than normal, you can transfer the excess into your saving – it can easily be withdrawn if it is needed for an emergency, but try and keep it saved, even adding to it if you can.
6 – Have a Financial Goal
By doing all of the above, you are likely to get together some money to put into your savings account. However, keeping it there can be a whole different kettle of fish. This is where you need a financial goal. If you have a set amount you want to save each month (make it realistic) you are less likely to take out any money you put into your savings, and are also more likely to find other ways of saving, if you are close to reaching your monthly goal. Remember anything is better than nothing.