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Saving tips: how to become a saver, not a spender

Do you feel like it’s simply not in your nature to tuck money away? The good news is that even if you are more of a spender, there are some things you can do to become a saver this year. Here are some tips to help you start building your savings.
Unicorn money box with pile of coins in front of it
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Do you feel like you’re just not a natural-born saver? That it’s simply not in your nature to tuck money away, and that there’s no way to shake that ‘treat yo self’ mentality as it’s so deeply ingrained?

Well, we get you!

In fact, last year we asked eight members of the team whether they were a saver or spender for a social media video — and the results were split perfectly down the middle (and that’s from a group of people who know a fair bit about money!).

Even if you look at your own family or friend group, you’ll likely find that most of them lean one way or the other. Money either burns a hole in your pocket and you just love to spend it — or you’ll take any chance to squirrel extra cash away and get a thrill out of seeing your savings grow.

If you are more of a spender, the good news is that you can still create a decent savings fund because there are things you can do to help you become a saver in 2023. New year, new me and all that, right? Plus, with a new year presenting the threat of further increases when it comes to your bills, now could be the perfect time to start bracing yourself for the impact.

And in case you weren’t in the loop, we’re actually in the process of creating a new savings product to not just help spenders turn themselves into savers but help those who are already good at budgeting to get even more from their money.

Want to help us shape this product and make it the very best it can be?

You can sign up to the BETA trial here.

In the meantime, here are some other tips to help start building your savings.

Check where you can cut back

You know how much your basic bills (think utilities, council tax, and your rent or mortgage) are roughly costing you each month, and there’s not a lot – if anything – you can do to reduce the amount you pay for these. But there may be other areas where you can claw back some cash and grow your savings for the future.

To get a better idea of where your money is going, something as simple as sitting down and looking back at your spending over the past few months could be a good place to start. This will enable you to check what Direct Debits you pay, as well as figure out an average of how much you spend on certain things (such as groceries and leisure) to see where you may be able to cut back. After all, it can be easy to overdo things if you’re not keeping track of your outgoings.

As an example, our research has found that the average Brit spends £118.80 on a year on subscriptions they rarely use or don’t use at all.1 And, with several streaming companies hiking their prices last year, this number could be considerably higher now, as this research was conducted at the tail-end of 2021.

Even though we all know the key tips for cutting costs – let’s say renewing your car insurance with a cheaper provider – there are still some things you might want to consider to lower your quote further. For example:

  • Check that your predicted annual mileage is still accurate, as you may be using your car less if you’re still working from home a lot
  • Find out if you can you get a discount by having your car, home, and life insurance with the same provider

Give your savings a purpose

Having a specific goal in mind – such as saving for a holiday or a house deposit – can help to keep you motivated to keep tucking money away because you have something specific to aim for. But once you reach that goal, how do you keep yourself on track to becoming a saver?

Saving for something isn’t the only reason why you’d want to tuck money away. Here are some ideas on how you can allocate any savings you make to different pots with a range of purposes:

  • Emergency fund: a pot of money that’s set aside in case of emergencies (funnily enough), such as a broken boiler, leaking roof, or becoming unemployed. It’s often recommended that this is the is the equivalent of 3-6 months’ worth of outgoings, and that the money is kept in an account that’s separate from your current account but is easy to access.
  • Sinking funds: these are savings that have a specific purpose – so, they’d typically be used for expected expenses that come up occasionally. This includes holidays, special occasions (such as birthdays and Christmas), big purchases (like a new car), and vet and dental bills.
  • Long-term savings: these savings might not have a specific purpose – they’re just there in case you need them. You might want to consider putting them in a high interest savings account as they are designed to be tucked away for a longer period of time.
  • Investments: if the interest on your savings is lower than inflation, your money will lose value over time. So, investing some of the savings you won’t need in the near future could give them more potential to grow as your returns won’t be tied to fixed interest rates. However, markets go up and down, and there is a risk that you could get back less than you put in with investing.

Investing is something you might want to consider after you have an emergency fund in place as many investors will invest with long-term goals in mind.

As investing for the long-term (for example, at least 5 years) could give you more time for your money to compound and recover from market downturns, you may want to think of it as a long-term strategy for potentially growing your wealth.

Make saving a habit — not an afterthought

You’re probably reading this and thinking, “easier said than done”, right? Not necessarily.

As a matter of fact, it’s said that it takes around 66 days for a new behaviour to become a habit that you do automatically.2

So, how do you turn budgeting and putting money away into a habit?

Whichever savings strategy you choose, consistency is key —so basically, just keep it up! If you’re putting money directly into an ISA or another type of savings account each month, doing this as soon as you get paid (and before any of your bills for the upcoming month come out) could be something to consider doing.

If you ‘pay yourself first’ by setting a budget when you get paid (and putting a certain amount in savings before doing anything else), you’ll be less tempted to spend that money if it’s not sitting in your bank. Plus, it could be easy to turn it into a habit by setting up a standing order to ensure it gets automatically transferred into your savings pot every month. Or, if you wanted to tuck away different amounts each time, you could set yourself a reoccurring reminder to do it yourself on your phone.

Find a saving strategy that works for you

Despite what some clothing brands may tell you, things are rarely one-size-fits-all — and the same rule applies to budgeting and saving money. After all, everyone has different preferences for how they do things, as well as personal circumstances that could impact the best savings strategy for them.

Instead of going with the first one you see, why not do some research into the different strategies? There’s plenty to choose from, like ‘paying yourself first’ (as mentioned above), the 50/30/20 method, and envelope stuffing.

Take the 50/30/20 method, where you take your salary (after tax) and use 50% for your ‘needs’ (bills and food, basically), 30% for your ‘wants’, and then putting the remaining 20% into your savings. However, in a time where mortgage rates, energy bills and food costs are all higher than expected, this may not be a realistic target for everyone.

Put things into perspective

Changing the way you think about money – and the true cost of treating yourself – could also be a way to help you cut back on spending and grow your savings pot.

One way of doing this? The next time you go to buy something you want but don’t need (like a fancy lipstick, video game, or pair of trainers), think of things not in terms of how much that item costs, but how many hours you’d have to work to ‘earn’ it.

Say you earn £12 an hour and wanted to buy the aforementioned trainers for £60; you’d have to put in a five-hour shift to afford them. And if you’re in the office for eight hours a day (as is the case with many so-called ‘9-to-5s’ these days), that’s over half a day’s work for one pair of shoes.

Another way of framing it is to consider what you could buy with that same amount of money. Maybe that £60 could get you a week’s worth of groceries, or even cover a month’s phone bill or car insurance payment? Thinking this way could help you to consider how much you really want it, and you might find that after a week, the urge to purchase has gone as quickly as it appeared.

Wealthify does not offer financial advice. Please seek financial advice if you’re unsure about investing.

  1. Research conducted on behalf of Wealthify by Opinium Research amongst 2,000 UK adults between 17th and 21st December 2021
  2. https://jamesclear.com/new-habit
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